Michael Korenberg and Beverlee Park appointed to UBC Board of Governors

UBC's new Governors, Beverlee Park and Michael Korenberg

Yesterday, the BC Government appointed two new members to the UBC Board of Governors, Michael Korenberg (OIC 101) and Beverlee Park (OIC 102). Both have been appointed to terms ending December 31, 2017, and the Board’s membership is once again at its full capacity of 21 members, including 11 appointed by the provincial government. They are replacements for Kenneth Fung and Birgit Bennett, both of whom left the Board earlier this month. Fung resigned, while Bennett chose not to continue after her appointment concluded. They also follow the appointments of Kevin Ross Smith and Sandra Cawley in December.

Ms. Park is an accountant by training who for most of her career was in senior leadership positions at Timberwest, which as the name implies is a forestry company. Notably, she was also president and COO of Timberwest’s real estate arm, Couverdon. Somewhat surprisingly, a search reveals no donations in her name to the BC Liberal Party, though Timberwest is a frequent and generous donor to the party. Ms. Park left the company in 2013 and now seems to act primarily as a member of various Boards, including TransAlta, Teekay LNG, Intransit BC, Silver Standard Resources, and now UBC.

In an interview from 2014, she gives this encouraging answer about being a proactive Board member, especially in regards to governance.

    How is the role of board member evolving?
    There’s an ever-growing need for board members to be on top of industry issues and trends and the strategic direction of a company. And board members are taking their own training and development more seriously. I get out to a range of seminars and have taken specific governance training.

Hopefully she can bring some of that independent spirit to UBC and learn about the university from those inhabiting it rather than relying on the orientation provided by the Board secretary.

Mr. Korenberg is the Deputy Chairman and Managing Director for Jimmy Pattison’s group of companies, where he’s been for the last 20 years. He also serves as the Chair of the Board for Canfor, a forestry company owned in large part by the Pattison empire, which by the way is the largest private corporation in BC according to Business in Vancouver. Even more surprising than Ms. Park’s lack of donations is that Korenberg has personally given a number of donations to the BC NDP ($4400) as well as the Liberals ($8150). It’s very possible that he was appointed based solely on his business and management acumen.

For UBC’s Board, which has received a ton of lamentable government appointments over the last few years, these people at least don’t seem like crass patronage appointments. Yet it’s hard to say if this is progress or not – only time will tell. The most recent appointees to the Board – Korenberg, Park, Smith, Cawley, and let’s throw new Board Chair Stuart Belkin in here too – all have eminently respectable backgrounds in governance and management, but with an extremely significant caveat that the entirety of that experience is in a private sector context. None of them appear to have any relevant experience in academic governance, and they would be well-advised to not approach UBC’s Board like any of the others they’ve ever sat on. UBC’s Board isn’t just governing an academic institution, it’s also a de facto municipal council. Like in a municipal environment, community engagement is a key part of the job, and in their current situation, should be the most obvious path back to legitimacy. The Board’s continuing resistance to engage in genuine two-way conversations will continue to harm the Board’s reputation as long as this type of corporate mindset is the norm.


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  1. I suppose it depends on exactly how you define “crass patronage”. Korenberg’s pattern of donations is consistent with trying to curry favour with the government: in 2011-2012, he donated to the BC Liberals, but as the 2013 election approached, he started donating to the NDP, who were generally expected to win. After the Liberals’ victory, he switched back to them.

    Sure, the pattern is also potentially consistent with genuine shifts in his political outlook…but we’d have to believe those occurred in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014, despite the lack of any major shift in either party’s ideology over that period.

    Posted by J. | February 26, 2016, 3:39 pm
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