University of Alberta looks for oil and gas expertise for board of governors by Sheila Pratt, September 16, 2013, Edmonton Journal
The University of Alberta is looking for people with expertise in the oil and gas industry to fill positions on the board of governors this fall. Board chair Doug Goss downplayed the advertisement, which contains the university’s request for expertise in “Alberta’s energy and/or natural resource sector” for three new public members of the board of governors. “That’s just one qualification; we are also looking for expertise in financial management, community involvement,” said Goss. “It’s wide open. We’re looking for people who care about the institution.”
New Democrat Rachel Notley says looking for special representation for one major industry in the province raises some serious question for the U of A. If the university wants to contribute to building a diversified economy, it needs to stay with the broad approach it takes now, said Notley. “This is narrow and short-sighted,” she said, noting the university did not call for renewable energy expertise. Notley also questioned whether hiring board members specifically for their oil and gas expertise will send a negative signal to academic staff and might discourage research in other areas, such as the environmental impact of the oilsands. “With this approach, how many more David Schindlers will we produce?” said Notley, referring to the internationally renowned water expert who pioneered research on oilsands and the environment.
Goss emphatically dismissed that concern, saying the board does not get involved with such academic matters. “We just want to bring breadth and depth to the board.” Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, who makes the appointments to the boards of governors, said the U of A board requested those specific qualifications be included in the advertisement. Lukaszuk said he was happy to comply with the request. While the province initiates the hiring process, universities and colleges have an opportunity to contribute to content of the advertisement, he explained. … Seeking expertise from the oil and gas industry “is not too common,” added Lukaszuk, but he is ready to take the U of A board’s advice on such matters. The ad says preference will be given to candidates with a “demonstrated interest in post-secondary education,” “and/or the training of adults.”
“Preference will also be given to those who have demonstrated expertise in financial management, experience with human resources; and/or information technology, as well as those with experience working with Alberta’s energy and/or natural resource sector.”
On a U of A blog site, several professors raised questions about the requirement for oil and gas expertise only and not other disciplines. They questioned whether this ad was “routine.”
“This is not out of the ordinary,” administration replied, though it noted it does not keep copies of previous ads for the board of governors positions. [Emphasis added]
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