Kissoon’s account of Academic Board meeting inaccurate
I have had cause in the past to observe that Mr Frederick Kissoon in his numerous public utterances gets away with multiple forms of offence to others, misrepresentations, and false and inaccurate statements. I fully agree when Mr Kissoon was the victim of attack or other wrong actions those were to be condemned, but I never hear his supporters condemning him on any of the several occasions on which he offends others. There is no public outcry or defence of his victims.
Mr Kissoon is allowed to get away with it because most of us do not respond publicly when he makes his claims and accusations in the press. I have asked before, is he really the champion of rectitude and justice that he professes to be? I have argued that in order to be that he at least has to be truthful in those public utterances. He cannot be serving rights and justice if his own actions violate rights and justice; he cannot be championing those causes if his claims are false; and I ask again – how truthful is Mr Kissoon?
The most recent examples are two letters in the press by Frederick Kissoon: ‘A legal mockery at UG’ (Kaieteur News, September 3) and, A group comprising less than a quorum is making decisions in the dying minutes of Academic Board meetings (Stabroek News, September 5). He claims, inter alia, that the Academic Board statement in support of Prof Compton Bourne, which asked for the withdrawal or non-acceptance of his resignation as Chancellor of the UG, was not a true majority decision of the Academic Board.
Mr Kissoon gives a detailed narrative of what transpired at the meeting, as follows: “The Academic Board in full session discussed the faulty leadership of former Chancellor, Dr Compton Bourne. There was no formal decision. Few persons spoke. There was hardly any defence of Dr Bourne. When most voting members had left, a certain academic raised the Bourne issue again under ‘Any Other Business.’ The Office of the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Marlyn Cox [sic], later published a press release saying that the Academic Board rejected Bourne’s resignation. This was completely untrue. One academic spoke in the dying moments of the session.”
Every sentence of that is false. Every single one.
Mr Kissoon was not present at that meeting, yet he gives the public a detailed description of the proceedings. He tells the public what he never witnessed and what he never read in reliable records of the event.
First, the Bourne matter was never raised under ‘Any Other Business.’ It came up under the agenda item ‘Matters from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor’ while the meeting was fully quorate, long before any “dying moments,” and when “most voting members” were present. The proceedings of the Academic Board are confidential and I ought not to be publishing them in the press, but I think the cause justifies what I do here. I quote from the Minutes of the Academic Board meeting of July 12, 2012 so that you do not have to take my word for it and to show the great gulf between the official records and Mr Kissoon’s version.
“Minute 128:02– Matters from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor:- The Chairperson indicated that the Chancellor was reappointed but had since tendered his resignation.”
“Minute 129:00 – Chancellor’s Resignation – a concern to Academic Board:- The members asked about the resignation of the Chancellor and what was Academic Board’s position on the matter. [. . .] The members felt that the Council should not accept the resignation. They also stated that the University was losing an officer, [sic] whose contribution to the University was sterling. They further agreed that a letter to the Chancellor expressing appreciation for services rendered over the years, and a request of him to reconsider his decision should be dispatched to him. [. . .] A copy of the letter was to be sent to the Minister of Education. It was also decided that the possibility of a delegation meeting the Chancellor should be explored.”
One item is listed under ‘Any Other Business’; it is ‘Advertising of Programmes.’ There is no mention of Compton Bourne anywhere there.
It is difficult to give an exact timing of exactly when matters came up in the meeting, but the Bourne discussion took place at agenda item 5 just after ‘Matters Arising from the Minutes‘ in a meeting with 15 agenda items. Some items are brief, some are lengthy, some have no submissions, but the foregoing should give some idea of where this matter came up in the proceedings.
I refer to the minutes because I am not pitting my word against Mr Kissoon’s. I give you the official records. Mr Kissoon argues that you cannot trust the Minutes because they are all part of a conspiracy to immorally record minority positions as Academic Board decisions. He declares: “By the time you reach the last item on the agenda, ‘Any Other Business,’ [sic] almost ninety per cent of voting members would have left.
The few remaining members would raise issues” which the minutes record as decisions of the Academic Board.
Mr Kissoon calls upon the public to trust him instead of the official records, and accept his account of Academic Board meetings as true. But he sees nothing wrong with publishing blow-by-blow accounts of meetings at which he was not present. The Board meets monthly in addition to many special meetings. While he was a member, Mr Kissoon turned up at less than two meetings per year, spending no more than half an hour each time. Between 2008 and 2011 the Board met more than 50 times and he dropped in at only 5. I am not convinced that that poor and unacceptable record qualifies him to be an authority on the proceedings and practices of the Board.