A national association representing academic staff is calling on B.C.'s Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson to review the appointment of James Moore as chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers say that UNBC's board of governors did not properly consult the university's senate when they decided in Nov. 2015 to appoint Moore, a former Conservative cabinet minister.

"Once you sideline the senates, the faculties, students, you essentially rip the academic soul out of the university," said CAUT executive director David Robinson.

"You sacrifice academic integrity, and without integrity, our universities have nothing."

Consultation questioned

The Canadian Association of University Teachers represents 68,000 teachers, librarians, researchers, general staff and other academic professionals, and the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association is one of their members.

The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C. has also called on Minister Wilkinson to review the appointment.

According to the University Act the board is required to consult with the senate before appointing a chancellor, but the legislation doesn't specify what exactly that consultation must entail.

UNBC Maclean's rankings

UNBC has just ranked #1 among Canada's small universities, according to the newest Maclean's Magazine rankings. (UNBC)

Robinson said the senate wasn't consulted, but rather "was simply informed" of the decision to appoint Moore.

"We're just calling on the minister at this point to look at the University Act and to see whether or not the spirit or even the letter of the law was broken in this particular case, and to maybe give a sense of greater clarity to our institutions about what consultation actually means," Robinson told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen.

The majority of the 45 senators and students who make up the senate voted in Dec. 2015 to ask UNBC president Daniel Weeks to inform the school's board of governors that it didn't sufficiently consult with the senate.

"I think people have gotten really miffed about it, because there wasn't consultation. There wasn't an explanation about why the board felt this was the best fit, and because of that people are up in arms now," Robinson said.

"I think having that dialogue earlier on might have avoided a lot of the controversy we have right now."

Board defends decision to appoint Moore

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson was not available for an interview, but said in a statement: "Government is not involved in the selection process of the chancellor."

Ryan Matheson, the chair of UNBC's board of governors, told CBC News that the board followed the appointment process as described in the University Act.

He said a number of meetings were held over several months between the advisory task force, alumni, the governance committee of the board of governors and various senate committees.

"It's unfortunate they feel there was not proper consultation or proper review … but the process was followed as it was prescribed," he said.

Matheson said that the board of governors is learning from the criticism.

"The board is committed to reviewing the selection process for future chancellor nomination selections."

Matheson said Moore was chosen because he is an alumnus of UNBC, and among other qualifications, was "a driving force" behind the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.


To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: National association asks B.C. advanced education minister to investigate James Moore's UNBC appointment

With files from Gavin Fisher