– institution on needed transformation course
The appointment of a Chancellor at the University of Guyana (UG) has allowed for the enhancement of the leadership of the tertiary institution. This is the deduction of Technical Advisor to the Minister of Education, Mr. Vincent Alexander.
Professor Nigel Harris, former Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies was recently appointed Chancellor, a void that was left after the 2009 to 2012 stint of Professor Compton Bourne.
Alexander said that since the position of the Chancellor is “more or less ceremonial”, Professor Harris is not tasked with the day to day operation of the University. However, it is expected of him to be involved in strategic outreach.
This, according to the Technical Advisor would translate to him “creating linkages with other universities and to mobilize resources from outside the university or outside the country.”
And he is convinced that Professor Harris has the capacity to competently fulfill this mandate. Alexander qualified his conviction by pointing out that not only was the recently appointed Chancellor former Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, but he played integral roles at a number of other tertiary level institutions both regionally and internationally.
“One would expect that he has the kind of linkages and contact to be beneficial to the University of Guyana…that’s where it starts, but he also chairs the Council so he can impact on the way in which the Council itself deals with the internal University, and one would hope that he does that,” said an optimistic Alexander.
Since assuming administrative power earlier this year, the coalesced A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Government had touted Professor Harris for the position of Chancellor.
Moreover, Alexander, while not speaking on behalf of Government, noted that “certainly Government expressed support for his appointment, and so I would think that they should be comfortable they have someone with whom they could work.”
UG in a press statement issued earlier this month stated that Professor Harris’ appointment became effective on August 26, 2015. But according to Alexander, “he is not yet in. The Chancellor doesn’t have a permanent office and so one would expect that at least by the 16th (September, 2015) he would come for his first meeting of Council.”
A new Council of the university was recently installed and has thus far met once. During that meeting, efforts were made to scrutinize the budget proposals for 2015 and 2016, said Alexander who holds a place on the Council.
The University has for some time been labeled as cash-strapped, thus has been unable to effectively meet some of its financial obligations. However, the APNU+AFC Government since taking office has committed to helping to reverse this trend.
And according to Alexander, “Our understanding is, given the resources being made available to the University, there should not be a repeat of problems such as non-payment of (staffers’) NIS and income tax deductions…so at least they (UG) shouldn’t be in the red in terms of the non-payment of statutory fees; that we are kind of sure about.”
He is of the firm belief that the Council is currently on course to fashion a transformed University even as he intimated that change in this regard is likely to materialize next year.
Soon after assuming the position of Education Minister, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, had told this publication that “…if at the end of five years the University of Guyana is not a thriving University that can meet international standards, I would have considered that I would have failed.”
Dr. Roopnaraine had even then stressed that funding is one of the primary tactics that will help to significantly revamp the lone national University. “That is the first thing that has to happen. I don’t think that it’s magic that if we put money into the University things will improve overnight, but what I do know, is that without adequate funding for the University, I really believe that we will continue to beat a sick horse to death…It (UG) can’t be improved without the funds,” asserted the Education Minister.
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