Before an audience of about 300, Professor Ivelaw Griffith in the George Walcott Lecture Theatre was yesterday officially installed as the 10th Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana [UG] at an investiture ceremony.
Ahead of the ceremonial installation, which was executed by Chancellor Professor Nigel E. Harris, tributes from various academic and professional factions were presented.
The greetings were all flattering and amplified, among others things, that Professor Griffith was best suited to effect an already in progress paradigm shift at the university which boasts a 8,645 student-population across two campuses – Turkeyen and Tain.
The Vice Chancellor was yesterday even credited with healing wounds, some self inflicted, at the national university.
It was emphasised by Chancellor Harris before the ceremonial installation that when Professor Griffith accepted the appointment as Vice Chancellor in June 2016, it was an immense sacrifice he made.
But there have been criticisms, he observed. Chancellor Harris said that while he believes in criticism, they should however, at all times, be constructive.
There were however no criticisms yesterday. Among those who physically extended favourable greetings yesterday to the Vice Chancellor were– on behalf of students – Ron Glasgow, President of the University of Guyana Students’ Society; on behalf of UG staff – Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr. Emanuel Cummings; on behalf of the alumni – Turks and Caicos resident, Ms Lillian Misick of Class of 1980; on behalf of the University of the West Indies, Professor Brian Copeland of the St Augustine Campus; on behalf of the University of Liberia, its President, Professor Ophelia Weeks; on behalf of the Trent University, its Director for Biomaterials Research, Professor Suresh Narine; on behalf of the Caribbean Development Bank, its President, Dr. Warren Smith; on behalf of the private sector, Chief Executive Officer of Roraima Airways, Captain Gerald Gouveia and on behalf of Government, Education Minister, Ms. Nicolette Henry.
The ceremony commenced with a procession with faculty heads attired in academic regalia. It was after a musical rendition by Mr. Keith Waithe, a visiting distinguished artist, that Professor Nigel Harris administered the oath of office and installed Professor Griffith.
The historic moment was followed by a bout of drum rolls and trumpet sounds that emanated from the Police Force Band.
The ceremony advanced with Professor Griffith, who entered garbed in his doctoral robe, being asked to disrobe after which he was helped into the Vice Chancellors’ ceremonial attire.
In his inaugural address as the first installed Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Griffith acknowledged that although his charge is to lead the university forward he is fully aware that it did not “magically” arrive at the place it is currently at.
“There was dreaming and there was doing,” said Professor Griffith who recalled visionaries the likes of the late Presidents, Cheddi Berrett Jagan and Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham and C. V. Nunes, a former Minister of Education.
According to the newly installed Vice Chancellor, it was dreaming and doing that allowed UG to move from a class of 154 in 1964 to more than 8,000 in 2017.
But it has not always been smooth sailing from the inception of the university, Professor Griffith noted even as he shared his intent to build on the work that was started a long time ago.
Among those who witnessed the auspicious occasion yesterday were President David Granger; Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo; Government ministers and other dignitaries.
Professor Griffith was appointed the 10th Principal and Vice Chancellor of UG in June 2016.
He had earlier served as Executive-in-Residence at The University at Albany, State University of New York, and the Ninth President of Fort Valley State University in Georgia, where he led the right-sizing of the educational and economic enterprise, focusing on growing enrollment, enhancing the academic profile, controlling spending, launching Honors and Undergraduate Research programmes, and initiating a feasibility study to establish a School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation.
Professor Griffith has also introduced a number of similar programmes since taking up his appointment and, according to him, he has plans to do even more as the renaissance of UG continues to unfold.
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