University of Guyana (UG) Vice Chancellor, Ivelaw Griffith will no longer be seeking a renewal of his contract, even as the workers’ unions intensified pressure on the administration for him not to return.
Multiple sources confirmed that Professor Griffith informed them that he had opted to abandon plans to return to the publicly-funded tertiary institution because of family and other commitments in the United States where he had been residing for decades.
His decision came amidst what had appeared to be an aggressive public relations campaign that had favoured his continuation or contract renewal.
Griffith could not be reached immediately for comment, and the University Council, UG’s governing body, was still locked in more than an hour-long meeting.
Outspoken lecturer, Dr. Melissa Ifill told Demerara Waves Online News that while nothing has been officially communicated to the staff, she welcomed Professor Griffith’s impending departure and hoped that it would pave the way for a realignment of priorities and conservative spending. “I hope that it presents an opportunity for the university to move forward with different priorities and now move forward with a different orientation with respect to the governance of the university and the administration of the university overall.
I trust also that it brings a level of sanity as it relates to spending and expenditure and that we spend in a manner that is not only accountable but satisfies our core functions which is teaching and learning,” she said.
Dr. Ifill hoped that UG would continue those good initiatives that Professor Griffith had implemented. “It certainly was not all bad…and those good initiatives that he introduced and we will pursue and maintain them,” she said.
Hours before Professor Griffith made known his decision, the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) had expressed concern about the “flawed” performance evaluation process.
The unions had rubbished that process saying that it did involve students and staff, qualified external interviewers and include an evaluation of the physical conditions of the Turkeyen and Tain campuses. Instead, the workers’ organisations had flayed the process saying that it merely included a self-evaluation by the Vice Chancellor and individual assessment by Council members.
The UGSSA and UGWU had also expressed repeated concerns about wanton spending by the university administration at a time when staff and students were made to go without stationery and sanitation supplies.
Records show that Professor Griffith had held senior administrative positions at several American tertiary institutions, but his tenure had not exceeded three years in most cases.