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To: Faculty, staff and students in Vancouver and the Okanagan
In April of this year, the UBC Board of Governors requested a comprehensive review of Policy #93. This was in response to sensitivities expressed by many members of the UBC community in the wake of the leadership change that occurred last year.
In response to this request, the university reviewed best practices at peer institutions and a Policy Review Committee was convened, comprising faculty members, staff, and students from both campuses. The full terms of reference for the committee are available online at http://universitycounsel.ubc.ca/policy-93-committee-tor/.
We are now inviting feedback regarding the proposed amendments, to be submitted by October 31.
The aim of the review was to ensure that Policy #93 provides a comprehensive, clear set of criteria and guidelines to assist the board and its standing committees in governing their “meetings” (as such term is defined in the proposed amendments) in accordance with principles of transparency and accountability to faculty, staff, students and alumni, while balancing the need to treat sensitive matters with appropriate levels of respect and confidentiality.
The proposed amendments acknowledge the underlying commitment of the board to always act in the best interest of UBC, as required under the University Act. The key amendments are as follows:
(a) define the term “meeting”;
(b) provide readers with sufficient information to understand the manner in which the board addresses its business directly and through its standing committees;
(c) set out the principle to be applied when deciding whether items on agendas should be dealt with in closed sessions of meetings;
(d) provide illustrative examples of matters that may be appropriately dealt with in closed sessions of meetings;
(e) identify the individuals responsible for determining the agendas for meetings (for both open and closed sessions) of the board and its standing committees, and set out the process for setting the agendas;
(f) where it is determined that a matter should be addressed in a closed session, require that the reasons for doing so be documented and annually reviewed by the Board’s Governance Committee to ensure that these decisions are being made in a manner that is consistent with the proposed amended policy;
(g) require that the Board’s Governance Committee prepare a written report to the board regarding its annual audit and that the report be made publicly available;
(h) require public notice of meetings for which there is to be an open session, with the agenda for the open sessions to be included in the notice;
(i) require the publication of docket materials that are submitted for consideration in the open sessions of meetings;
(j) require that minutes be taken at meetings of the board and set out the minimum requirements for the contents of those minutes;
(k) require the publication of minutes from the open sessions of meetings of the board; and
(l) provide further guidance on matters relating to attendance at both open and closed sessions of meetings.
You can view the existing version of Policy #93 dating from 2008 at http://universitycounsel.ubc.ca/current-policy-93/. The full text of the proposed amendments to Policy #93 is available at http://universitycounsel.ubc.ca/proposed-policy-93/.
You are encouraged to submit any comments to the Office of the University Counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 31, 2016.
Once the consultation period concludes, all of the feedback will be provided to the Policy Review Committee. The committee will then determine what, if any, adjustments should be made to the Policy #93 proposal before submitting it to the board for approval at its meeting in February of 2017.
Hubert Lai, Q.C.