“…the new Vice Chancellor is bringing new ideas, new approaches and you have to give him some time to see what he does. We can’t start encroaching him and handicapping him at the start of the process.”
A needful transformation at the University of Guyana (UG) must go hand in hand with a metamorphosis of the academic staff. This assertion was recently made by Technical Adviser on Tertiary Education to the Minister of Education, Vincent Alexander.
Alexander is of the firm opinion that the academic staff of the national tertiary institution must embrace a change in the way they carry out their duties. “They need to understand that their commitments have to be to the students; efforts have been made to enhance their salaries and they have got to commit to giving service to the university and not short change the university,” said Alexander.
But the metamorphosis of which Alexander spoke is only one of three things he believes must occur at the university to aid its transformation. He also spoke of the need for the university to be recapitalised and to embrace moves towards examining its curriculum in order to meet the needs of the nation.
Alexander’s remarks were made, recently, when he spoke of the recently implemented leadership team at the university. The Technical Adviser, who is a member of the university Council, has disclosed that while the implementation of a new leadership team was approved by the relevant body of the university it was, however, not without some concerns.
“There were people who shared different views in terms of the availability of the finances to get it off the ground…but at the end of the day they have to take collective responsibility. Notwithstanding the individual views, the Council did give the go ahead for this to happen,” Alexander noted.
The new leadership team, which was proposed by Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, became effective on Saturday October 1, 2016. It includes three Deputy Vice Chancellors – Vice Chancellor of Academic Engagement; Vice Chancellor of Planning and International Engagement and Vice Chancellor of Philanthropy, Alumni and Civic Engagement.
The leadership team also includes a newly established position of Chief of Staff of the Vice Chancellery and there is also a Director of Strategic Initiatives.
“There is obviously going to be additional cost; there is no question about that but I think that you have got to give leaders the scope to pursue the course of action that they think will work unless what they are doing is out of the ordinary,” said Alexander of the recent development.
He continued, “…I think that is the framework with which I would approach this matter…the new Vice Chancellor he is bringing new ideas, new approaches and you have to give him some time to see what he does. We can’t start encroaching him and handicapping him at the start of the process.”
The Technical Adviser said that he will maintain the disposition that the Vice Chancellor must be given a chance to implement what he has proposed once it is not deemed outrageous. “I wouldn’t consider it outrageous so in that context I would say give him a chance and see what works,” asserted Alexander.
A number of persons have vocalised their views on the leadership team.
President of the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU), Mr. Bruce Haynes, like Alexander, has called for the changes to be given a chance since they were not introduced in a dictatorial manner but rather received the blessings of the financial arm of the University – the Finance and General Purpose Committee (F&GPC). The F&GPC is a policy making body of the University second only to the University Council.
According to Haynes, he has no qualms with the leadership team since based on what has been proposed, the Vice Chancellor has made use of persons who are already within the employ of the University.
“What I understand is that these changes have not cost the University anything in the extreme…He (the Vice Chancellor) has basically reworked the system to accommodate new initiatives. Taking the University to where it needs to be calls for changes and a reworking of the system to accommodate this.
“Persons in the leadership team have basically been re-deployed. The Vice Chancellor has redeployed the resources effectively so that they can be maximised,” said Haynes as he suggested that those against this move are fewer than those supporting it.
Very vocal about his opposing view has been former UG lecturer and Kaieteur News Columnist, Mr. Frederick Kissoon. Kissoon believes that the decision to put the team in place is a mistake. “The University has not got that kind of student and employee populations to warrant such a vast outlay of personnel….that by any global standard is highly irregular,” underscored Kissoon.
He is therefore convinced that instead of creating new positions and increasing the leadership, team efforts could have in fact been made to distribute duties to the existing Deans.
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