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Posts Tagged ‘Nassif Ghoussoub

Order of Canada honours for B.C. residents

Order of Canada honours for B.C. residents

Nassif Ghoussoub is a professor of mathematics at the University of British Columbia.

Photograph by: handout , Mark Mushet Photography

Governor General David Johnston has announced 69 appointments to the Order of Canada, including six from British Columbia.

Nassif Ghoussoub

Officer of the Order of Canada

Born in Mali (west Africa and a Lebanese from the town of Beit-Chabab) Nassif Ghoussoub has distinguished himself as a scientist, educator and mathematician working in the field of non-linear analysis and differential equations.

Ghoussoub is a professor of mathematics at the University of B.C., where he also serves as a Distinguished University Scholar.

He has won at least 11 major awards and distinctions, published dozens of academic papers and supervised the higher education of a generation of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Rudy Buttignol

CEO of British Columbia’s Knowledge Network, Rudy Buttignol is appointed for his contributions to the growth and quality of Canadian documentary filmmaking.

Italian-born Buttignol was a successful independent filmmaker from the mid-70s through the early 90s, when he joined the world of public broadcasting as the creative head of independent production for TVOntario.

He has served in leadership roles on dozens of boards and festivals in the film and television world and is regarded as the driving force in the transformation of the Knowledge Network.

Wade Davis

Member of the Order of Canada

Author, explorer, ethnobotanist and photographer, Wade Davis is appointed for his work to promote conservation of the natural world.

A Harvard-educated anthropologist and explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, Davis has written 15 books including The Serpent and the Rainbow. Davis is professor of anthropology and the B.C. Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of B.C.

Ted Grant

Member of the Order of Canada

With a career spanning six decades, Ted Grant is regarded at the father of Canadian photojournalism, capturing unique and enduring images of Canadians from Ben Johnson’s Olympic victory to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau sliding down a banister.

In addition to the many awards and distinctions Grant has earned, the National Archives of Canada maintains the Ted Grant Photo Collection, comprising more than 280,000 images. Another 100,000 images are curated by the National Gallery of Canada, the largest collection dedicated to any photographer.

Peter S. Li

Member of the Order of Canada

Peter S. Li, through decades of work as a sociologist and editor of books such as Race and Ethnic Relations in Canada and Destination Canada: Immigration Debates and Issues, has shaped public discourse on everything from ethnicity and language policy to multiculturalism and immigration reform.

Li has been an associate editor of the Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology and advised the Canadian government on issues of race and diversity.

Atom Egoyan

Companion of the Order of Canada

The Victoria-raised movie director earned a promotion within the order for his groundbreaking contributions to film as an internationally respected filmmaker and for his commitment to mentoring and showcasing Canadian artists. The 55-year-old Egoyan earned a best director nomination at the 70th Academy Awards for his critically acclaimed 1997 film, The Sweet Hereafter.

 A leadership issue at UBC board of governors? Dr. Nassif Ghoussoub wants John Montalbano  to resign as chair

I have been a faculty member at UBC for 38 years, and I have served this great university in many other functions, including six years on the Board of Governors (2008-14), three of them on the Board’s Management Resources Compensation Committee (MRCC).

I was elected by the faculty to the presidential search committee, which eventually chose Arvind Gupta, after evaluating hundreds of files during an eight-month deliberation period. You were also a key member of that committee, as Chair of the Board.

Last Friday, I read your joint announcement with the Chancellor, informing the world that President Gupta has decided to resign after only 13 months on the job. This news took many of us by surprise, as would be expected. What was not expected is that you, the Chair of the Board, were also “surprised” by this resignation, at least according to the Vancouver Sun.

This could only indicate that you, Mr. Chair, have erred, either in hiring Gupta, or in not anticipating the crisis, reading the situation, and providing the support you and the chancellor were expected to provide, so as to ensure that the president is successful.

Frankly, your botched announcement has caused disrepute to our university. The lack of clarity and the suspicious timing have triggered rumors and innuendos that, frankly, UBC can live without. You don’t seem to be aware that “an early lack of transparency and full communications can heighten the risk of a major crisis erupting.” And this eruption is happening now, under your watch.

You seem to have been taken off-guard by the Faculty Association’s request for clarity on the situation. Surprisingly, now you say that the full Board needs to confer, after the fact, to prepare answers. You seem to have failed to understand that ours is an institution that thrives on collegiality and respect across all of its stakeholders, and that its leadership must embrace the basic principles of shared governance.

Your understanding of university leadership and transitions is perplexing. We don’t hold our heads high when “Inside Higher Education” reports to the whole academic world: “When Mr. Montalbano suggested in the Globe & Mail that a university president is de-facto as disposable as a Swiffer Duster, it made me wonder if something else is going on and if risks are being taken with the future of my alma mater.”

This type of understanding may have led you to direct UBC into this unfortunate state of affairs. For one, the impact on the faculty was demoralizing. To them Gupta was a breath of fresh air, and their outcry reflects their high expectations from a president who valued their opinion, recognized their core academic values, and committed his support for their vision of excellence.

You must be aware that the last presidential search, inauguration, and transition costs alone are counted in the millions of dollars. Have you led the Board to ponder the massive financial waste of taxpayers’ money associated with all the personnel changes that accompany three presidential appointments in just over two years? Did you discuss the loss of momentum and reputational damage to an institution that will be dealing with a prolonged period of unstable, incoherent, and unfocused management?

Martha Piper’s message to the community speaks of the continuation of Gupta’s reforms and strategic plan. This indicates that this situation was not prompted by the president’s bold vision, but by an operational environment that you, the chancellor and the Board are supposed to oversee and keep honest.

One case in point is the brouhaha that is linking Gupta’s resignation to the departure of 3 Vice-presidents from the previous administration. From my own experience on the Board, such personnel changes are pre-approved by the MRCC, on which you and the chancellor sit. Have you given the president the support he needed, when these changes started making the news?

PSE historians relate that the most common factors that derail even the most visionary of presidencies are inordinate levels of interference by Board members on the president’s operational space, end-runs by deans and other subordinates trying to appeal directly to Governors, and an environment of extreme stress often caused by continuous harassment that can happen at any level of responsibility.

Did the Board debrief the president to learn if any of the above led to this short-lived presidency, and whether you and the chancellor have performed as expected to prevent such situations in your role as a key support to the president? I ask you because, if these issues are left unattended, no future president of UBC will be able to succeed, and the current impasse will be back soon to haunt us again.

A failure of a president is also reflective of the performance and the failure of the Board Chair, especially when the latter has both actively participated in the selection and convincingly shepherded the appointment through the Board. My question is therefore: Given the impasse we are currently facing, what guarantees UBC that your leadership will lead us to the right person next time around?

You often said in public and in private that you and Gupta are “brothers in arms. He fails, I fail.” Now that President Gupta has stepped down, unable to carry-on with his mission, it seems fitting that you, Sir, should do the same.

Nassif Ghoussoub is a professor of mathematics and a former member of the board of governors at UBC. This article originally appeared on his blog.




March 2023

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