New UG council named

-despite concerns by unions over selection process

Despite objections from the unions at the University of Guyana (UG) over the selection process, Government has announced the composition of the new UG Council.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon on Thursday announced that the council which would operate for three years with effect from February 22, 2018 includes Chancellor Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith, Jacqueline Murray, Dr Paulette Bynoe, UGSS President Norwell Hinds, union representative Dr Jewel Thomas, Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Vibert Welch, Representative of the Ministry of Finance Sonya Roopnauth, Vincent Alexander, a yet to be named nominee from the parliamentary opposition, Jasmin Harris, Patrick DeGroot, Mariam Andrews, Alison Butters-Grant, Ivor English, Timothy Jonas, Dr. Navindranauth Rambarran, Dr. Marissa Seepersaud, Major General (rtd) Joseph Singh, Myrna Bernard and Registrar Nigel Gravesande serving as secretary.
According to Harmon several members are still to be identified, specifically representatives from the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada, American University of State Colleges and Universities, Committee for International Cooperation and Higher Education of the United Kingdom and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
The University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers’ Union (UGWU) had written to Education Minister Nicolette Henry on February 13th calling on Cabinet “to allow organizations to nominate representatives who will truly speak for them and on behalf of the people of Guyana, whom the University serves.”
They had argued that the previous Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine allowed organisations to select their representatives for the Council in 2015 and they had hoped that a similar approach would be adopted in forming this new Council.
Twenty of the 26 members of the council have now been named by Harmon and Minister Henry has not acknowledged receipt of the unions’ complaint. The unions however are not backing down.
“Once there is a breach there is breach. Some might say it’s a done deal why protest but we still wish to register our displeasure and let them know we do not support the action. It is our hope that when the life of this council comes to an end we won’t face this situation again,” President of UGWU, Bruce Haynes told Stabroek News.
Haynes reminded that under the previous administration a governance committee had been mandated to examine the governing structure of the university and make recommendations for its improvement.
“We had gone to parliament during the last administration but that committee hasn’t met since this new administration. We are hoping this new council will look at the committee’s report and deal with the recommendation. What we have indicated forms part of move in making sure there is no vacuum where the governance body is left in abeyance as it was for several months. We want to meet at a stage where it never happens again,” Haynes stressed.
The unions have also argued that the manner in which this council was established is a retrograde step that does not augur well for the proposed governance reform process currently underway within the University which requires the support of the government.
“That process proposes minimizing the government’s role in the appointment of the UG Council,” they stated, adding that “We have long said that the University’s progress is being severely hampered by the politicization of its Council. We are not alone in this observation: several consultants have come to the same conclusion. The country’s leading tertiary institution has for too long been a political football. We need persons of integrity and fair-mindedness to serve on our Council – persons who will not place loyalty to any political party before the needs of the institution and the country.”
The University of Guyana Act states that the Council shall consist of 26 members, including the Chancellor, Pro Chancellor, and Principal and Vice Chancellors. The other members, according to the Act, must be drawn as follows: One person to be nominated by the Committee of Deans; one person to be nominated by the Academic Board; one from the Guild of Graduates; one from the Student Society, one from the University of Guyana Workers’ Union; one from the Ministry of Education and Cultural Development; one from the Ministry of Finance; one from the political party in office; one from the minority leader; four from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which in the opinion of the Minister best represents the interest of women, farmers, Amerindians and business; one from the Guyana Trades Union Congress; three by the Minister to contribute in the field of medicine and law; six persons identified by the Chancellor and of which one shall be from each of the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada, American University of State Colleges and Universities, Committee for International Cooperation and Higher Education of the United Kingdom and the University of the West Indies (UWI).

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