The Alumni and Friends of the University of Guyana supports Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith

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 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05/10/2019

  • Dr. Dhanpaul Narine                                     
  • Public Relations Officer
  • AFOUG – Education Resource Ambassador

The Alumni and Friends of the University of Guyana supports Vice Chancellor and Principal Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith

Excellence and the pursuit of success are engrained in Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith and that has been evident in his decades long career in education and the numerous accolades he’s received.  Professor Griffith, has the honour of being the first person in the University of Guyana’s history to graduate with Distinction in Political Science in 1980, he has an outstanding record as a scholar, academic leader and teacher.       

His accomplishments include work in consultancy to Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, USAID; testifying before the United States Congress on Caribbean security; serving as a consultant to the Commonwealth Secretariat.  He’s also past president of the Caribbean Studies Association, and a visiting scholar at the William Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense studies in Washington DC; the Royal Military College of Canada, and the George Marshall European Center for Security studies in Germany.

He has been the Provost of York College in the City University of NY; Provost at Radford University in Virginia, Dean of the Honours College at Florida International University, and Budget Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida International University, he’s also left his mark as President of Fort Valley State University even as he maintained his tenure as a professor of political science.

 Professor Ivelaw Griffith is the Tenth Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana (UG). He took over an institution that was long-neglected as an educational enterprise; which he knew needed transforming to become meaningful facilitator of educational and economic development.

A fact-finding visit to UG in 2016 by a the named group of Education Resource Ambassadors (ERA’s) he started of alumni and friends found an institution in  stark disarray with shocking physical infrastructure needs. A library without funds for repairs or expansion, classrooms were without chairs.  A lack of hygienic or recreational facilities and security on campus resounded with students and staff alike. The university needed help and it needed someone with vision to turn it around. 

The appointment of Professor Ivelaw Griffith as Principal and Vice-Chancellor heralded a new day for the university. Professor Griffith is a product of the university and had the best drive to see his alma mater rise like a Phoenix from the ashes. UG has changed for the better and this is evident under his short years at the helm. The School of Medicine has regained its accreditation, a new student complex is underway, and the Walter Rodney Chair was restored.  There is a Distinguished Artist-in-Residence; the anniversary of former President Cheddi Jagan was observed. Wi-Fi is available on campus, and the Turkeyen and Tain talks have discussed a number of issues relevant to the development of Guyana.

There are new programs in Food Science, Social Work, Petroleum Engineering and Civil Engineering, among others that have made UG better because of the Vice-Chancellor; a detailed description of all these improvements can be found on the UG website.  Professor Griffith has pointed out that the work has just started. He is optimistic about UG.  The new Jay and Sylvia Sobraj Center for Behavioral Science and Research, and improvements to the landscape will enhance the reputation and standard of the institution. The Vice-Chancellor welcomes transparency and accountability and he is openly approachable to the staff, students and the unions for improving the university quality and standards.

The Alumni and Friends of the University of Guyana (AFOUG) support the renewal of the contract of Professor Griffith; the group has been working closely with Professor Griffith, and UG, to improve and enhance the institution’s profile. Our organization supports the vision of the Vice-Chancellor to rebrand UG, and to work with the public and private sectors, alums and friends to make UG a world- class university.

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LETTER FROM:

  • Allison Skeete
  • President
  • The Alumni and Friends of the University of Guyana
  • Education Resource Ambassador

Guitar not moutar…

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter in support of Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, Vice Chancellor and Principal at UG, not because I wanted to be another voice among the many, but because of the impact to date of his vision of a “renaissance” that is taking place at the University of Guyana. I first met Dr. Griffith when I attended the retirement engagement of former Counsel General of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Harold Robertson, with whom I once sat on a particular organization’s board of directors. As Professor Griffith spoke at this particular event, I was impressed by his career path, his writings and his professional achievements in higher education. 

Personally, I emigrated from Guyana with my parents as a teenager.  At that time, I was angered, in disbelief and in fear, but dared not voice my thoughts out of fear of reprimand.  Leaving Guyana was a jarring experience because it interrupted my youth and left a feeling of hurt, loss and resentment. From that time in my life, I vowed to never to forget Guyana.  I grew up in a family that stressed education, had teachers on my maternal and paternal sides of our family; I am the niece of one of the most respected teachers known as ‘Sir Fernandes.’ He began his teaching career in the 1960’s and has dedicated more than 50 years to teaching, guiding and mentoring so many who have made him proud of the part he played in their academic success from–Chatham in Eccles, to Tutorial, St. Rose’s etc. Education is the bedrock that builds the success of nations and its peoples.

When Dr. Griffith became the Vice Chancellor at UG, he believed it was necessary to bring the University into modern times.  With that view in mind, Professor Griffith established a group of Education Resource Ambassadors (ERA), with the aim of engaging UG alumni the Guyanese diaspora and other international supporters, or “friends,” who shared his vision of a revitalized educational institution. In June 2016, over 100 such alumni and friends of UG accepted the invitation to serve the University as ERAs.  At that time, Dr. Griffith provided ERAs with a first-hand view of the state of UG. To put it mildly, to see the stark conditions of disrepair and lack of equipment for learning; it was shocking! UG was once was known as the bedrock of some of the best academic minds in the region among the Caribbean nations and in the UK.  To Sir With Love written by E.R. Braithwaite was a shining example of the Guyana’s educational system and is one among many, many more.

While we ERAs did not all attend UG, we all had a yearning to do something for our land of birth, and this seemed the perfect fit. We were willing to support the VCs efforts.  As ERAs, we participated in seminars to develop structure for programs and ways to help with the vision of this UG Renaissance the Vice Chancellor explained to rebuild his alma mater and position it as the University of the Region; it could become a catalyst for many future successes and leaders of high caliber.  We played “guitar not mouther” and many of us continue to do so as the advent of economic growth beckons to the land of many waters.  Even after our return to our homes, many of us continue to support UG with small groups of alumni, friends and supporters. Annually we raise funds for programs at UG and donate time, equipment, supplies and more to see the Renaissance fulfilled.

I think the opposition to Dr. Griffith’s tenure stems from fear. I’ve worked in Corporate America for more than thirty years and the transparency he demands and provides for everything done that benefits UG, students, staff and every project that takes place is unmatched.  That can be frightening. What Professor Griffith has accomplished in three years means work is being done, has been done and must continue being done.

 The modern university must have student input, it must provide enhanced learning opportunities and instill a sense of capability to step into the future as a viable adult contributing to the community that guided one through.  This includes seeing students engaged in undergraduate research; thinking of what oil and gas means economically and that they can have better lives. I am involved with UG, as a non-alumna, because of the VC. He has provided the opportunity for give back to Guyana in honour of the parents who provided me with the opportunities I’ve had. All of the improvements made with the onset of his tenure have been listed numerous times recently. Vice Chancellor Griffith must be allowed to continue carrying his mantle, his humility and straightforward, no-nonsense character equates the interest, giving and success we see in the improvements now at UG and ensures a positive future for Guyana.  Now is the time for the University of Guyana’s international success.

As the president of the New York chapter of the Alumni and Friends of the University of Guyana (AFUOG), on behalf of the group, I stand in support of the Vice Chancellor of University of Guyana, and the dedicated staff and students who also support the work and improvements he has enabled at the institution; their support should not be overlooked; they have front row seats to the changes his tenure has made possible. 

To quote Sir Winston Churchill; “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”  Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith defines this; having taken UG from failures to success with enthusiasm in the face of unwarranted and/or misplaced objections.

Sincerely with regards, 

  • Allison Skeete
  • President
  • The Alumni and Friends of the University of Guyana
  • Education Resource Ambassador
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