Pro-Chancellor of the University of Guyana Dr Prem Misir says that the Academic Board is holding students to ransom over the annual convocation and he said the council is prepared to meet with the board to thrash out thorny issues.
The convocation which was to be held this week has been postponed as the Academic Board has refused to complete the academic profiles for graduating students until it settles a number of issues with the council.
And as the saga continues between the Academic Board and the council, the board is being accused of serious contractual breaches stretching back months and culminating in the delay of the convocation.
In an interview yesterday, Dr Misir told Stabroek News the board has issues submitting student grades on time in addition to a record of failing to submit a code of conduct for staff and a media protocol among other things.
He said the academics are “now holding students at ransom while camouflaging the real issues and making it appear as though the council has a role to play in the convocation”.
He asked how the academic board could request a meeting with a council which it views as null. However, he pointed out that the council is still willing to meet with the academic board to thrash out the issues it has raised separately from the matters that need to be addressed for the convocation.
“The academics are harping on this issue of the council not being fully constituted but the fact of the matter is that the council has never been fully constituted in the four years that I have been at UG”, he stated.
Misir said there is a way forward if only the board would resolve to have a dialogue with the council prior to proceeding with the review of student profiles and the holding of the convocation. He admitted there are issues that need to be ironed out as the board indicated but noted that the convocation is more important.
According to Misir, it is unfair to graduating students who would have spent four years and two years at the university to be left hanging with respect to the convocation. He said many students live for that moment and at present there is no indication when it will come given the board’s reluctance to review the profiles.
Responding to the academic board’s claims that the search committee was abandoned during the selection process of a Vice-Chancellor, he said, the decision was taken to renew Dr. James Rose’s contract for one year while a strategic plan is implemented. He said the plan, which seeks to take the university in a new direction, will be in place very soon and a different structure would be in place. He noted that Rose was the obvious choice for the position given that he had held the post for seven years.
When the new strategic plan is in place, he said, the search committee would be resuscitated and would be involved in selecting a new Vice-Chancellor when the current contract expires. He said Rose would be eligible to apply after the one year, adding that the committee would have to decide on the most suitable candidate for the post.
The Pro-Chancellor said there has been much talk about Rose not accepting the Vice-Chancellor post but as of Friday last, the contract was signed with him. He noted that there were a few disagreements between him and Rose but after much negotiating things were resolved and the contract was signed. He said that Rose is scheduled to go on leave after turning out to work but added that no specific time has been identified.
On the issue of the Turkeyen lecturers withdrawing their services from the university’s Tain Campus, Berbice on the advice of the academic board, Misir said the claims made were not sufficient to warrant such actions. According to him, there is a long history of reported abuse on both sides of the university- Berbice and Turkeyen. He added that the Director at the Berbice campus complained and the Turkeyen lecturers have complained over the years but they have been able to put their differences aside and execute their duties.
Further, he said that the academic board cannot make claims about the council changing statutes when the council is the governing body and has the power to make such changes. He said when the council met last month on various issues including the Vice-Chancellor it had a quorum. According to him, there was never any issue about members being excluded. Misir said it was simply a case of persons not being added to the council in time.
The Academic Board has called for a meeting with the full university council to iron out what it says are gravely disturbing events such as the erosion of the authority of the Vice-Chancellor, the appointment and promotion of a lecturer to the Division of Education at the Berbice Campus; the removal of the bursar from the jurisdiction of the Vice-Chancellor; the alleged abuse of commuting lecturers by the Berbice Campus Director and the search committee that was set up to name a Vice-Chancellor among other issues.
The Academic Board has declined to sit as a Board of Examiners until the issues are resolved.