UG unions ‘feel vindicated’ as Vice Chancellor proceeds on leave

Dr. Ivelaw Griffith

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 06/03/2019 at 6:59 am

    Letters to the Editor:

    I Have Never Been Opposed to an Evaluation of Tenure at UG

    Stabroek News May 30, 2019

    Dear Editor,

    Several weeks ago, I found it necessary to address some tendentious claims carried in your newspaper and to lament the deficit in journalistic professionalism reflected in the fact that no effort was made to verify the assertions by checking with officials at the university or getting a comment from me.

    I find it necessary again to clarify the record in relation to the article in your May 28, 2019 edition that speaks to the unions at The University of Guyana being vindicated with an evaluation to be conducted before the June 7 Council meeting.

    This is not vindication; it is duplicitous spin and continuation of efforts at character assassination.

    Here are the facts that the evidence will attest.

    1. I have never been opposed to an evaluation. Evaluations are a standard professional best practice in the academy, industry and government, and in my several decades as a scholar and an administrator I have been subject to evaluations and I have conducted them. They are fundamental to continuous improvement, which I embrace and have espoused at UG.

    2. On February 8, 2019, and in keeping with the terms of my contract, I penned a letter to the Pro Chancellor expressing interest in the renewal of my contract. The letter was shared by the Pro Chancellor with the Council, including Dr. Jewel Thomas who represents to unions on that body.

    In the final paragraph of the letter I stated the following: ‘I look forward to working with the appropriate individuals and processes to evaluate my stewardship under the first contract and award a new contract on such terms that may be mutually agreed upon’.

    3. Based on this expression of interest, the Pro Chancellor consulted individuals within UG and at other universities and proposed a multidimensional evaluation process, consonant with what reputable universities in the Caribbean and elsewhere do in relation to their CEOs. It involved a three-member 360 evaluation panel, a self-assessment guided by an evaluation instrument and an evaluation by the Pro Chancellor. I accepted the proposed modalities.

    4. The Pro Chancellor set about establishing the panel and getting an appropriate assessment instrument. He secured the agreement of the following panelists: a former foreign-born UG Vice Chancellor; a reputable management consultant also based abroad; and a distinguished member of the business community in Guyana. I agreed to the panel. The Pro Chancellor also sent me the draft assessment instrument which was generally acceptable to me.

    5. At its meeting on April 15, the Council, however, agreed to an approach that was different to that of the Pro Chancellor’s and proceeded to establish a 10-member Performance Evaluation Committee (PEC), which, interestingly, included the very union representative and another individual that has been adamantly and publicly opposed to my contract renewal.

    6. A letter to me dated April 18, 2019 conveyed the decision of the Council. Among other things, it indicated the following: ‘Finally, it is to be noted that the PEC will use an instrument approved by the Council to conduct your evaluation. The instrument will be forwarded to you as soon as it has been finalized by the PEC at its first meeting’.

    Also noteworthy are the multiple constituencies that were supposed to be part of this evaluation, as detailed in the letter: ‘The PEC will receive evaluations from the following sources: yourself (self-evaluation), Pro Chancellor, Academic Board, Committee of Deans, UA Staff, UB Staff, University of Guyana staff unions, University of Guyana Student Society Executive, and the Alumni Association (evaluates Alumni matters only).’ Please note that this method is decidedly not standard operating practice at reputable universities.

    7. After several meetings the PEC came up with a 14-page evaluation instrument with 79 questions that the Committee itself could not administer.

    8. The PEC reported its impasse to the Council on May 23, 2019 and recommended abandonment of the evaluation process it had established. It cited issues of potential bias that I had raised earlier, doubts about how the various groups were going to administer the evaluation, the cumbersomeness of the instrument in being 14 pages long with 79 different questions, the fact that there was no pilot testing of the instrument, the fact that no other Vice Chancellor had ever been subjected to the type of evaluation being considered, among other things.

    9. It was the PEC, with one exception, that recommended that given the factors cited above, the Council could not proceed with the proposed evaluation and that ‘the Council should in its deliberate judgement decide on the performance of the Vice Chancellor’.

    10. I adhered to the rules set forth by the PEC and the Council by submitting my self- assessment.

    Again, there has never been any reluctance by me to undergo an evaluation. Any implication to the contrary is patently false and your newspaper continues to do a disservice to the Guyanese people by not being vigilant in its pursuit of the truth.

    Allow me to end this letter, editor, by noting that the very unions’ leaders that platitudinously tout accountability and claim vindication are stridently opposed to accountability and transparency by the unions. It would be a wonderful demonstration of journalistic due diligence if your newspaper could get the two UG unions to share with you for you to publish the following items that they have refused to provide the University:

    1. Their Articles of Association.

    2. Their Certificates of Recognition from the Trades Union Recognition and Certification Board.

    3. Statements of Income and Expenditure for the years 2012 through 2018.

    4. Attestation of their leadership, with the dates and results of the most recent elections.

    5. Last six Annual Returns to the Registrar of Trades Unions and the associated audited statements.

    I trust this letter serves to enable your readers to garner the facts and not continue to be the beneficiaries of spin.

    Yours faithfully,

    Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith – UG Principal and Vice-Chancellor

  • J. Ass  On 06/03/2019 at 12:10 pm

    WT… Clyde?

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