Prof. Bourne himself confirms his inability to function as an effective Chancellor
In his letter to the Members of Council, dated June 25, 2011, in which he retracted his acceptance of Council’s unanimous reelection to serve as Chancellor of the University of Guyana for another three years, Prof. Compton Bourne himself confirms the several claims made by the unions about his shortcomings and his inability to function as an effective Chancellor. As Prof. Bourne has admitted in his statement, the University’s problems were dire upon his arrival in 2009 and after three years at the helm, he has failed to stimulate any progressive change at and within the University. On the contrary, the conditions have deteriorated.
While Prof. Bourne would have Council believe that his resignation and volte-face were prompted by the deteriorating industrial environment at the UG, Operation Rescue UG maintains that the University of Guyana needs a Chancellor who would be courageous enough the take the job precisely in order to arrest this decline, and indeed to initiate and pursue a process of organisational re-creation and cultural change. However, by his own admission, Prof. Bourne is neither temperamentally nor professionally suited for such an undertaking.
Indeed, Prof. Bourne does not appreciate the need for bottom-up organisational restoration of the UG. Rather he attempted to impose a superficial superstructure of ‘performance requirements and performance standards’ on a clearly decaying organisation, rather than address the underlying problems of low trust, chronic financial woes, shockingly low salaries, backward HR policies, low staff morale among others that prevent the realisation of these standards. Having failed to address these fundamentals of organisational behaviour and performance, Prof. Bourne would have us believe that those of us who have decided to embark on a process to rescue the University, have caused him to resign. This strange sentiment is now being echoed, though more loudly and more shrilly, by the Minister of Education, whose verbal abuse of citizens, including students, over whom she has direct responsibility, is lamentable. Our training, character and values however, preclude us from penning a similar response.
Notwithstanding Prof. Bourne’s eminent reputation, what precisely did he do to build trust at UG between the Council, the Administration, and Faculty, Staff and Students? Notwithstanding his management skill, how effective was Prof. Bourne in persuading Council members to respect and adhere to globally observed academic protocols and desist from acting in a politically partisan manner? While the laboratories continue to deteriorate and students continue to be recipients of virtual education in the science and engineering streams, how effective has Prof. Bourne been in persuading the Minister of Finance to ‘sign the World Bank Loan’ in order to start addressing these deficiencies? How effective has Prof. Bourne been in raising and seeking redress to, as matter of a high priority and strategic importance, the clear and debilitating inadequacy of financial resources at the University? Notwithstanding his eminence, the University continued to operate during his three year tenure with an annual deficit of over $200 million dollars when one of the direct responsibilities of the Council, over which he presided, as noted in Statute 12 of the University of Guyana Act Chap 39:02, is “to govern, manage and regulate the finances, accounts, investments, property, business and all affairs whatsoever of the University.”
While Prof. Bourne and the Honourable Minister of Education seek to take the mote out of the eyes of concerned staff and students, we urge that they do as the Good Book admonishes, and first take the beam out of their own eyes since, lodged within the protests and demonstrations that have erupted during Prof. Bourne’s watch, were the seeds of his failures. In criticizing our demand for transparency, accountability, improved standards and good governance, and by labeling our actions fractious, Prof. Bourne is witnessing the failings of the Council, over which he presided - failings that precipitated our actions. Prof. Bourne also fails to recognize that his refusal to engage the staff and students whom he leads and his shifting this responsibility onto the equally ineffective Pro-Chancellor only served to escalate the crisis.
We, the staff at the UG are fully cognisant of our value. We recognise that it is due to our sacrifice, commitment and persistence that the University of Guyana continues to function, albeit barely, as we bear the burden of supporting our students’ education. We will not apologize for our militancy but instead we will continue to peacefully but forcefully advocate for a national university that treats its staff with respect and furnishes its students with the quality education they deserve.
Dr. Mellissa Ifill
Dr. Thomas Singh
Operation Rescue UG