Two resign from Quest University's board of governors 

Michael Hutchison and David Fujimagari, both from local development company Bethel Lands Corporation, step down

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAVE BUZZARD / WWW.MEDIA-CENTRE.CA
  • Photo by Dave Buzzard / www.media-centre.ca

Two figures in Squamish's development scene who sit on Quest's board of governors have resigned.

Michael Hutchison and David Fujimagari have left the board, according to a letter circulated by the school.

"I wish to thank them for their invaluable contributions to the board," reads an email from George Iwama, the president of the school.

"They have been, and continue to be, avid supporters of Quest and of our innovative educational model."

Hutchison and Fujimagari are both members of Bethel Lands Corporation, a company that owns several of Quest's student residences.

The letter gives no reason for their departure, but in an email to The Chief, Quest spokesperson Jasmine Aimaq said that Bethel sent a formal letter expressing interest in partnering with the school for land development this week.

Quest has yet to make a decision on which company they'll be partnering with.

"Since joining the Board, [Hutchison and Fujimagari] have been aware that some members of the Quest community were uneasy with their presence and worried about conflicts of interest, even though any potential conflicts were managed well by the board," said Aimaq.

As a result of their expression of interest, Hutchison and Fujimagari decided to step aside.

"He and David decided it would be a smoother process for everyone if they stepped down sooner rather than later, to help mitigate any lingering concerns," Aimaq said.

The Ossa and Red Tusk buildings are owned by Bethel, but are on an agreement that will eventually see the student housing given to the university.

Bethel also owns the Riverside, Four Winds and Swift Creek student housing buildings, as well as the land they are built on.

In November, a number of Quest University students expressed concern over the potential conflict of interest at a public forum. At the time, Iwama said measures were put in place to address the conflict.

“By category, they [Hutchison and Fujimagari] are in conflict,” said Iwama in a January interview with The Chief. “Just by label of being on the board and the named partner they are in conflict.”

“They have recused themselves,” he said. “They have been outside deliberations concerning anything to do with this.”

“They described a vision for the partnership that we considered and then they would leave,” added Iwama, recalling board discussions on Bethel’s involvement.

Two new appointees, Anna Lippman and Sheila Biggers, have recently joined the board, Iwama said.

Lippman is a Quest alumnus, and the first former student to be appointed to the board of governors as a full voting member. She works as a trauma counsellor for the YWCA and a research assistant for The Centre for Drug Policy Evaluation.

Biggers is the president and CEO of Junior Achievement BC, an organization that provides education programs for youth.

Bethel representatives did not respond to requests for comment from The Chief.

A version of this story originally appeared in The Squamish Chief on March 20.

Speaking of Squamish, Quest University

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