Where in the World is John Montalbano?

Less than a week after a secret meeting of the UBC Board of Governors was followed up later in the day with the “surprise resignation” of UBC President Arvind Gupta, the people left at the top of UBC’s power structure have continued to make themselves scarce, publicly at least.

John Montalbano, the Board of Governors Chair, and Lindsay Gordon, the Chancellor, have so far only addressed the issue through confusing prepared statements, or terse comments to selected media. Everyone else on the Board has been absent from the public eye. To all those looking for answers amidst the turmoil, their collective silence has said much more.

UBC has a directory of people associated with the university. Search the name John Montalbano… no results. Search the name Lindsay Gordon… no results. An enquiry to UBC Public Affairs for their contact information was referred to the Board of Governors Secretariat, who claimed the information was private and could not be divulged. To summarize, John Montalbano and Lindsay Gordon do not have offices. They cannot be reached by email. They cannot be reached by phone. The two most powerful men at UBC are ghosts.

Certainly, everyone has a right to live as private citizen, but that right ends where their duties as Governors begin. They are not acting as private citizens when they vote on raising tuition, or the university’s billion-dollar budget, or when asking university staff to stop using the term “rape culture” because it makes them uncomfortable. Mr. Montalbano was not on the search committee that ultimately chose Arvind Gupta as UBC President in the role of “random individual plucked off the street”. All of these derive from the fact that they are people who have been given control over a very large and significant public institution. If they would rather be private citizens, they are welcome to take the advice of faculty member Nassif Ghoussoub and resign. Until they do, their roles come with a duty to the public, and the tens of thousands of people who hold a very real stake in the success of this institution.

Adding to the confusion, Susan Danard, managing director of UBC Public Affairs, was responding to enquiries earlier this week by stating that both men were out of town on vacation. She has since stated that those vacations were cancelled and in fact, there have been frequent conversations with various campus stakeholders. Their actual whereabouts are still uncertain. The UBC Faculty Association, for their part, sent a message to its members stating that a conversation with Montalbano had occurred this week, but details of any other engagements or actions taken are hard to come by. Where are they, what are they doing and who are they meeting with? Nobody seems to know, or want to say. Of course, this is just another example of the completely secretive way in which the UBC Board of Governors does business all the time. Faced with a situation that demands more clarity, all they create is more fog.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

Comments are closed.

Please vote for us in the Continuous VoterMedia Contest