An IMC should be installed in UG
Particular attention must be paid to the reason offered by Prof Bourne for his resignation just after being appointed to a second three-year term as Chancellor, UG. The former Chancellor was reported by SN as saying, “…the current situation at the Turkeyen Campus signals further deterioration, an environment for which he was not particularly suited.” Since UG is a national asset, every Guyanese and more importantly, every UG constituent (student, staff, administrator, member of Council), ought to regard Prof Bourne’s assessment as most disturbing, and even foreboding. Patriotic Guyanese are now confronted with the question: “What can be done to arrest UG’s decline?”
Taking due cognizance of Prof Bourne’s reason for resigning, it would be grossly unfair to other scholars to invite them to accept appointment to any of the top positions at the university at this time. It is hardly an environment that makes for success. Statements have appeared in the press quite recently, which suggest that all that UG needs is “leadership.” But, the type of “leadership” is never specified. May I caution that those persons who will be appointed to the leadership positions at UG, must be able to develop leadership potentials at every level within the institution, and must, also, have themselves demonstrated that they possess refined ethical sensibilities.
In the wake of the Chancellor’s resignation and the departure of the Vice-Chancellor at the end of his contract, before rushing to make new appointments, it is suggested that this might be an opportune time for all university constituents to engage in reflection and institutional self-study in preparation for the fundamental changes that loom large on the horizon. Although it may not be possible to predict precisely the outcomes and recommendations of the ongoing Hamilton & Associates consultancy charged with ‘The Review and Enhancement of The Regulatory Framework For The Improvement Of Operations At The University Of Guyana,’ specially designated groups could conduct targeted mini-studies in anticipation of the findings and recommendations of the final report. If it becomes necessary to modify, or reject any of the findings, or recommendations, those arguments can then be supported with data. Also, since solutions to some institutional problems are to be found beyond the walls of UG, the academic community need not limit the scope of their studies, but can cast their net system-wide.
For example, can organizational and curricular modifications at the senior secondary level relieve UG of trying to be all things to all people. CPCE awards associate degrees, why not the senior secondary schools, or sixth form colleges? Senior secondary schools prepare students for CAPE and Advanced Level examinations. Do the students at CPCE achieve those academic standards? I think not!
The data from these studies could assist the academic community to attain three goals: 1) some degree of congruence between institutional goals and the goals of the other constituencies (faculty, support staff, etc); 2 the exploration of opportunities for the mergers of separate faculties with the view of creating integrated interdisciplinary ‘Divisions’ – for, example the School of Education & Humanities, could be merged with the Faculty of Health Sciences, to form the Division of Social Services; 3) engaging in futuristic or venturesome planning. For example, what would be the resource (men, money, materials) requirements, organizational and curricular implications, if the institution were to be reorganized and restructured to reflect the new emphases as the institution attempts to bridge the vast disconnect between the present university outcomes and environmental needs. After such a comprehensive institutional self-study, the relevant authorities would be much more informed in their search for leaders whose capacities are more congruent with the institution’s needs at this particular stage of UG’s development.
In addition to being severely under-funded through the past decades, many of the problems at UG have arisen because the fundamental issue of governance remains unresolved. This situation was created when the governing UG Council was politicized during the tenure of the previous government. And, since 1992, it has been pay back time. Wherever issues remain unresolved, problems arise. The inability to have this particular issue resolved, has resulted in the virtual death of a once vibrant national institution. Some persons might venture to say that it is only the funeral that is taking some time.
Whether the institution is allowed to wither on the vine and become a useless anachronism, or whether it becomes viable and regains credibility rests with the Minister of Education, Ms Priya Manickchand.
Conflict between the governing domain and the service domain has plagued UG for decades. Therefore, in order to facilitate the above process, I invite the Minister of Education, to rise to the occasion and resolve this impasse by removing the present expired UG Council, and appoint an Interim Manage-ment Committee (IMC) of no more than five visionary pragmatists. Not only do precedents exist, but the Minister has already demonstrated that she has the courage to stand up for what she perceives to be correct, as she did in the Henry Greene affair. UG is her alma mater!
For the IMC, I propose two persons. First, Prof Leo-Rhynie, a futurist, former Science educator, and former Principal of Mona Campus, UWI, should be invited to chair the committee. Second, Mr Stanley Ming whose commercial, rural development, philanthropic, and larger than life exploits are well known. I am of the opinion that the UG community should nominate two of its members to sit on this committee. And, in the interest of continuity, I am not sure whether the former VC, Prof Carrington would be interested, but I leave this ball in the Minister’s court.
Clarence O Perry