Only in Guyana will people badmouth someone for successfully negotiating a good employment package. Only in Guyana will keen sense of dressing be ridiculed. Only in Guyana the smarts (intelligent) are seen as threats to be defeated. Only in Guyana people envy instead of understudy. These are my thoughts reading what has been happening with Professor Ivelaw Griffith at the University of Guyana (UG).
In the age of Trumpian politics and alternative facts (euphemism for lies) Guyana is fast becoming consumed. I have blogged on UG and think it necessary to come to the Letters column. I need answers and think I speak for many alumnus of UG.
I need answers to questions like:-
1. What has Vice Chancellor (VC) Griffith done that so riled up the unions?
2. Is it fair to ask the VC to be evaluated at the end of his contract? If his employment conditions did not include an evaluation competent should the rage be directed at him? Shouldn’t he be credited for agreeing to an evaluation at the end of his contract even though none was there at the beginning?
3. Is it true lecturers are still not marking students’ papers on time and the VC has been trying to put a break on their delinquency?
4. The VC came to UG with a plan called “Project Renaissance.” How much of this was achieved? The university is 50 years old and has more than its fair share of challenges. Isn’t it a realistic gauge of performance to judge him on his plan?
5. Have lecturers worked with the management team to develop a plan to improve their performance or is their interest only in the VC’s performance?
6. Is it true the university unions can decide who should be appointed VC? I get this impression reading their statements.
7. When last the university unions negotiated benefit and compensation packages for the staff?
8. Could not the unions’ accusations the VC was on a spending spree be proven at the completion of the audit? The Ministry of Education said it was going to do the audit. Why didn’t the unions wait for the findings to prove or disprove wasteful spending? As scholars is this not what they know and taught us?
9. How much does it cost to run a 21st century university of UG’s size? How much is this from students’ fees, government subvention and private grants? Cost includes physical maintenance, salary, providing for the student population, courses, state of the art libraries and classrooms, sanitation supplies, stationary supplies, utility bills, etc.?
10. How much does it cost to invest in UG to bring it respectability and improve its image internationally via direct and indirect spending? What did the VC achieve that lifted the image of the university and help the students that his predecessors did not do or left outstanding?
11. I read the VC brought millions in investment to UG via new programmes, grant funding, private partnership, exchange programmes, guest lecturers from reputable international universities. Isn’t a dollar value being put to this and can a breakdown be provided?
12. The VC has an extensive record of scholarship, achievements and published work. How many of UG’s lecturers have similar accolades? Could they speak up?
13. Is the VC’s vision for the university too progressive for the lectures? Was he way ahead of his time and place in a Third World society, with third-rate lecturers and a third-rate university? Was he too demanding and expecting more from a team who may not have his energy, zeal and interest?
14. What does the Students’ Society think about the VC and what he has been doing for the university? Do their views matter?
15. What is the opinion of the Council members? Do they agree the VC was not performing, wasting money and his contract should not be renewed?
16. UG is state-owned. It would be good to hear the thoughts of the APNU+AFC government. Can we hear from President David Granger or Minister of Education Nicolette Henry?
17. UG has about 1000 staff, approximately 400 lecturers. Was a scientific survey done to determine the percentage of approval and disapproval who of the VC’s job or do union leaders Dr. Jewel Thomas and Bruce Haynes speak for the majority?
It is rumoured some think the VC is class-driven and has an attitude speaking with people. This is not a handicap to management and performance. Some businesses see these as positive qualities and would gladly hire him.
Answering these questions is important to having an objective take on what is happening at UG. The lecturers who taught me would have expected me to think this way.
Another thing before I take my leave. Management is a tier system. Someone is always the head. Has the UG Council given any thought to this when it appointed a three-man management team to do the work a VC should be doing?
With much thanks,
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