As a long standing observer of the University of Guyana, being a past student and faculty member several years retired, I cannot help but add my voice to Dr. Mark Kirton and those of several people writing on social media, newspapers and commenting in high circles about the matter of Honorary Degrees at The University of Guyana.
The response of today by the University of Guyana’s Public Relations Officer, Ms. Paulette Paul who should know better, is deliberately misleading and untruthful in many parts.
She should know better than to try to pull wool over the eyes of the taxpaying Guyanese public who have a right to seek answers and to ask questions since their dollars fund this university.
-The Vice Chancellor cannot and should not announce that he is going to confer any degree academic of otherwise upon anyone since he is not able to do this without a due process whether or not the University Act says the University can confer degrees.
The fact is that neither the Council nor the Academic Board has seen a proposal or request from the Vice Chancellor for them to consider the granting of the Honorary Degrees.
-It is the practice of this Vice Chancellor, and the Council seems none the wiser, to make critical and far reaching decisions which fall solely in the purview of this Council or other bodies and to bring these to the Council for ratification.
He has done this with appointments of his many and growing Cabinet, new appointments, renewals of contracts for high officials and even with payments of millions in lieu of leave.
When asked for details he sometimes rants that “either people trust him of they don’t”.
With a university in close to $500M deficit, accountability cannot be reduced to trusting an individual.
This is a national strategic asset and it must be treated as such.
The new and mostly very young Council must not allow this to continue. Had they been allowed to fulfill their oversight roles the world would not be hearing that the VC Prof. Griffith (I am that I am) is conferring anything when no one authority has sanctioned this yet.
While UG is legally able to confer honorary and other academic degrees, the big question is whether at thistime they should, and if they should by what procedure and what conditions need to apply.
They can also award honorary medals of different kinds and other degrees but there must be a system and it cannot be that the authority to do this is arrogated to the VC Prof Griffith who thinks that he can use the media in his campaign of personal pomposity.
UG is the national university, not the personal fiefdom.
At least the media is doing the job of asking the hard questions if no one else will.
Let’s do the right thing by the right means and let the UG Council do its job in service of this nation.
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