As Professor Opadeyi is about to take his leave as Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana (UG), Professor Nigel Harris, Chancellor of the UG, and Mr Joshua Griffith, President of the UG Students’ Society (UGSS), have publicly expressed their praise of him for his stewardship (‘UG Council approves transformation team’, (Stabroek News, November 16; and ‘Professor Opadeyi improved UG – insists UGSS President’, Kaieteur News, November 23).
Generally, we know it is common courtesy to say nice things about a person when the individual passes on, retires, or as in Professor Opadeyi’s case, demits office. Yet, in my view from abroad and based on my limited interaction with him in my capacity as President of the Ontario Chapter of the UG Guild of Graduates, I believe the sentiments expressed by Chancellor Harris and UGSS President Griffith are genuine and reflect the significant contributions he has made to our alma mater.
From what I have read of his plans for the UG and the actions he took in his short tenure, I believe he was a man in hurry to bring about positive change at the UG. In my view, he was prepared to move at the pace of a hare but others were accustomed to the pace of a tortoise. Sadly, he was not given the support of those who hired him, and when his zeal for a quick turnaround at the institution clashed with entrenched attitudes, his fate was sealed. In the end, the tortoise won.
Personally, I wish Professor Opadeyi success in his future endeavours. As for the UG staff and students, I am reminded of the old Guyanese saying, “Cow na know the use ah e tail till mosquita season”. I hope there will be no cause for regret when a new Vice Chancellor comes on board.