Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Professor asks UBC to reconsider Dr. Henry’s honorary degree, cites conflict of interest

‘At the minimum, please consider postponing it to after the current public health emergency is over’: Sumeet Gulati

One of its professors is asking the University of British Columbia to reconsider bestowing provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry with an honorary degree this June.

Sumeet Gulati said Henry receiving the award would be in conflict of interest considering her “direct influence” on the functioning of the university.

“Henry’s office is currently instructing UBC to plan for a full reopening in the fall,” Gulati said, citing a March 8 letter the doctor wrote to post-secondary institution presidents.

In it, Henry wrote: “It is essential that we plan for a full return to in-person activities on campus in September 2021, including in-person instruction.”

The recommendation has prevented the university from determining “what is safe and appropriate for its employees,” Gulati said.

“The return of over 66,000 students, from all over the world, many likely unvaccinated, to large capacity crowded classrooms is hazardous,” he wrote in a letter to Vancouver UBC’s senate.

The award’s timing is a main issue for the economics professor.

“At the minimum, please consider postponing it to after the current public health emergency is over,” he urged university officials.

Henry – listed as a core clinical faculty member at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health – is set to receive an honorary doctorate in science.

Gulati noted honorary degrees are not normally awarded to current or former faculty members.

RELATED: Dr. Bonnie Henry, Greta Thunberg to receive honorary degrees from UBC

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