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University of Guyana rejects claims of politicisation, always works with sitting gov’t

Last Updated on Sunday, 3 January 2021, 18:32 by Writer

The University of Guyana (UG) has rejected persistent claims that its Vice Chancellor Professor Paloma Mohammed-Martin’s appointment was not above board and that two of her deputies were elevated to professors.

In clear reference to a letter published in the pro-government Guyana Times, the university chided the media for failing to check information as they may be enjoined in actions that sully the reputations of persons and organisations. UG denied the claim in the letter to the editor that deputy vice chancellors Drs Emanuel Cummings and Melissa Ifill have been promoted to professors. “Deputy Vice-Chancellors Dr. Emanuel Cummings and Dr. Mellissa Ifill have not been promoted to the level of Professor,” the tertiary institution said.

Dr. Cummings is an elected member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Dr. Ifill has been labelled in some quarters as being pro-A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance (APNU+AFC) opposition party. But UG suggested that could be a good thing. “The personal, political affiliations of the Deputy Vice-Chancellors may be a matter of public record and they may represent inclusivity of different ends of the political spectrum.”

In that regard, UG said its laws and statutes and Guyana’s Constitution allow academics the democratic right to freedom of affiliation, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, or non-speech acts. At the same time, UG says it has several internal disciplinary processes which are used if any breaches of policy, laws, or ethics should occur.

At the same time, that publicly-funded tertiary institution said it is mandated to support the policies of the government. “The University as a state institution always works in consonance with the government of the day in the best interest of Guyana and all Guyanese,” it said.

Expressing grave concern about the publishing of information that is not factual in specific sections of the media, UG said Vice Chancellor Mohammed-Martin stays clear of publicly discussing politics. “The University’s Vice-Chancellor is the administrative head of the University and speaks only on matters of policy directly relating to the University. She has never and does not make public statements about any political matter since she is not the political head of the University,” UG said.

UG again sought to dispel concerns that its Vice Chancellor’s appointment was not above board and dismissed the letter writer’s claim that Dr. Cummings chaired a committee that appointed her. He categorically stated that he “was not the chair of any committee which appointed the Vice Chancellor.” The institution reiterated that Vice Chancellor Mohammed-Martin’s appointment emerged out of a 26-step year-long public and transparent process.