Prof Bourne does not understand the fragility of UG and what is needed to save it

Dear Editor,

I refer to a letter in the Feb 25 edition of SN by economist, Dr Thomas Singh of the University of Guyana. In his capacity as a leading member of Operation Rescue UG, he wrote his missive on the current crisis at UG and some harsh words were composed on the current UG Chancellor, Dr Compton Bourne

It is five weeks since the conflict broke out at UG and prior to Dr Singh’s commentary on Prof Bourne, there is no mention of his role as the Chancellor and the part he played in that fateful meeting of January 18 when three lecturers had their contracts terminated outside the statutes of the university and the Council’s decision to ignore the Vice-Chancellor’s contract renewal for Registrar Vincent Alexander. I have kept away from manifest visibility in the protest because the focus tended to be on me, when in fact some highly qualified lecturers had their work status cancelled. The names include Dr Patrick Williams who has a doctorate in geography and Mr Lorie Bancroft with a Masters in customs administration. There is also the discriminatory treatment against Registrar Vincent Alexander

Dr Bourne has not responded to correspondence from the three unions and the GTUC. He has kept his distance even though he presided over the Jan 18 meeting. My honest opinion is that Dr Bourne should not have become Chancellor of UG. I lost respect for him at the first meeting of the Council that he presided over, and did not see him as someone who could contribute to the future of UG.

The issue was the disciplinary committee to investigate technology lecturer, Mr Evan Persaud for sexually inappropriate remarks in the classroom. I pointed out to Dr Bourne that two persons on the committee were PPP members and Mr Persaud was a PPP member. I described for him the district groups that these two persons belonged to. Another member then told the meeting that he knows that a third person on the panel was also a PPP member. Dr Bourne refused to acknowledge there was a disturbing conflict of interest and said, “Are you challenging the integrity of the persons?”

It was a foolish thing to say. The conflict of interest principle is sacred in this life. It is a safeguard of justice. My second disgust was when he argued against raising the retirement age of lecturers from 60 years. He had applied for contract renewal at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) when he was over age 60. I don’t think Dr Bourne understands the fragility of UG, how it came about and what is needed to save it.  Dr Bourne sits as Chairman of the UG Council and tolerates the worst kind of unprofessional behaviour from PPP Council members who, in terms of educational exposure, should not be on a UG panel much less on the Council.

Then there was a third incident. He told Gail Teixeira that he couldn’t call a Council meeting in November last year because the British government had invited him to assess one of its universities. Imagine Prof Bourne going to evaluate a British university and he presided over UG that has become so badly flattened that it cannot secure accreditation for many of its programmes.

As came out in then President Bharrat Jagdeo’s libel suit against me, Dr. Bourne is a recipient of a house lot in Pradoville 2. In an interview with this newspaper, he said he has settled in Trinidad and will not return to live in Guyana.

Yours faithfully,
Frederick Kissoon

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