Jul 11, 2017 kaieteur
The hosting of the July 23 – 28, 2017 Diaspora Engagement Conference [DEC], which will
culminate with an investiture ceremony for the 10th Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana [UG], is reportedly already attracting a cost of several millions.
Registrar of the University, Dr. Nigel Gravesande has however assured that the week-long event will largely be funded by corporate Guyana and other benefactors.
This publication was reliably informed that the investiture alone could far exceed $10 million.
But President of the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association [UGSSA] and Lecturer within the Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr. Jewel Thomas, is questioning why such a large sum is required for an institution that has known what it is like to be “in the red.”
“We don’t know why we need to spend that amount of money,” said Dr. Thomas as she added, “They said that it is being paid for, but we don’t have the official documents to support how it’s being paid for.”
In fact, she disclosed that the staff unions of the university are skeptical about attendance of both the DEC and the investiture since “We were not invited in any official capacity…”
Dr. Thomas confided too, “The only position we will have with regards to the investiture ceremony [in particular] is that there has never been one…”
According to Dr. Gravesande, the investiture will essentially bring down the curtains on the DEC and officially solidify Professor Ivelaw Griffith as the 10th Vice Chancellor of UG. He further explained, during a press conference last month that an investiture is generally done across the spectrum of the community of universities globally after a Vice Chancellor or a President of a University would have been in office for about a year or so.
The month of June marked one year since Professor Griffith was appointed to the position of Vice Chancellor. The ceremony, Dr. Gravesande said, is slated to be graced by a significant presence of regional and international institutions. Some of them, according to the Registrar, are going to be required to bring greetings on behalf of their respective universities, while others will have their messages included in the official programme.
Describing the investiture ceremony as historic, Dr. Gravesande revealed that “we also would be embracing the diplomatic communities who will all be invited; civil society and Members of Parliament as well as private sector and religious organizations will be a part of this activity. We are expecting to have about 500 national, regional and international representatives attending” said Dr. Gravesande.
The ceremony, he added, will be a solemn programme spanning about one hour and 15 minutes with presentations for and on behalf of the Government of Guyana, the Academic Community and the Student Body. Vice Chancellor Griffith is expected to deliver an acceptance address at the forum.
But according to President of the other university staff union, the University of Guyana Workers Union [UGWU], Mr. Bruce Haynes, “this university has never had a king, but to me that investiture is the coronation of a king.”
He qualified his remarks by pointing out that although he has worked under the tenure of at least four Vice Chancellors before, this is the first occasion that a Vice Chancellor has chosen to have an investiture ceremony.
“Our university is not a rich university,” stressed Haynes, as he recalled that the Vice Chancellors before were in fact best described as “humble gentlemen.”
Among those he recalled were Professor Harold Lutchman, Professor James Rose, Professor Lawrence Carrington and Professor Jacob Opadeyi.
“Even though they are of different ilk, they were humble…” said Haynes, even as he considered that a decision for an investiture ceremony should have in fact gained the blessings of the university’s Council.
“You need to approach the highest policy-making body on this campus, which is the University of Guyana Council; let them bless it and then you can proceed to do it…there was nothing of the sort,” Haynes insisted.
“We do convocations for the students because it’s their big day and everybody dresses up in their ceremonial outfits, I see no problem with that, but not [a ceremony] to build an image. We are building a university not an individual’s image. Are you being handsomely paid to build an image?” Haynes questioned.
He is of the firm believe that there are some at the national university with misplaced priorities since more efforts should be directed to strengthening and building the capacity in several glaring areas.