The University of Guyana (UG) on Tuesday announced that a proposal is on the table for a smaller Council that will be solely responsible for policy while the Vice Chancellor and team will be given greater autonomy to run the institution.
UG Registrar, Dr. Nigel Gravesande said the Task Force’s proposed removal of political party, legal, medical, private sector, farmers and overseas university representatives from the Council would aim to ensure a “greater level of intellectual autonomy” for the institution.
“The contraction of its membership ought not to be interpreted that sectoral interests would not be taken into consideration, but mechanisms would be put in place to ensure that these interests find their way into the governance operations, whether it is at the level of the Council that they be invited or the Academic Board, for example, to which private sector’s involvement in curriculum review, curriculum refocussing to meet the developmental needs can in fact be catered for,” he told the media.
The Registrar explained that the intention is for the Vice Chancellor to enjoy greater autonomy to deal with “operational issues with a mechanism for accountability that is clear” and for the Council to deal with policy matters. “For the last fifty years, one saw an intrusion by the University Council into operational issues of the university; the day-to-day administration,” said Gravesande.
He added that the Vice Chancellor would have to account to the Council at an Annual Business Meeting. He would be required to submit Statements of Account and report on activities.
For his part, UG Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith brushed aside the question of a possible ‘runaway administration’ that will make major decisions in the absence of Council. “I don’t see the prospect, whether I’m the Vice Chancellor or whoever is the Vice Chancellor, or a runaway Vice Chancellor,” he said, adding that there are other layers of decision-making such as the Academic Board, Finance and General Purposes Committee, and Council of Deans.
He reiterated that advisory boards would be established to support Advisory Boards in faculties “Governance recommendation is that there should be a slimmer governance council focussed on competencies and not special interest representation. That is a significant recommendation to what is proposed as the current governance arrangement,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor said a two-day meeting of the Governance Committee, which is headed by former UG Vice Chancellor Professor Lawrence Carrington,last week concretised its recommendations that would be contained in a final report to an extraordinary Council meeting scheduled for July 26, 2018.
The Vice Chancellor and Head of UG’s Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris have since met Attorney General, Basil Williams who was presented with a number of recommendations for revamping the University of Guyana Act. A similar meeting was held with Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry.
Under the chairmanship of UG Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris, a transformation task force has examined the need for revamping the governance structure of the 55-year old tertiary institution whose Act and statutes “have not undergone significant revision”. The Governance Reform Committee, headed by former UG Vice Chancellor Professor Lawrence Carrington, has since submitted a report to the Council that called for wider consultatipon