UG athletes dominate National Schools Relay Festival
The nation’s highest learning institution, University of Guyana (UG) along with West Demerara Secondary and Christianburg/Wismar Multilateral School recorded some standout performances when the Ministry of Education (MoE) staged the second annual National Schools Relay Festival at the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora yesterday.
The student athletes of UG unsurprisingly dominated the tertiary segment of the event with their speedy footwork and their faultless baton passing. A quartet of sprinters from West Demerara romped home to victory in the girls 4x100m U-14 event which was anchored by the fleet footed Binka Joseph.
Jennis Benjamin ran an impressive anchor leg for Christianburg/Wismar for his team to take the top podium spot in the Boys U-18 4x100m event. Up to press time, the official results were still to be released. A full report will be published in a subsequent article.
Discussion on School of Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation
Press Secretary and Television Anchor Malika N. Ramsey discusses the School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovations. The team included members from the University of Guyana.
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UG, MovieTowne Inc Sign MOU for Solar Farm and Student Housing Complex
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed yesterday between University of Guyana (UG) Vice Chancellor, Pro-fessor Ivelaw Griffith and Director of MovieTowne Derek Chin for the construction of a solar farm on the Turkeyen Campus.
Griffith and Chin, in his capacity as head of the Trinidad-based Dachin Group of Companies, also signed a MoU for the construction of a 150-room student housing complex at the Turkeyen Campus, with a similar facility also to be explored for the Tain Campus.
The cost and the location of the solar farm have not been determined yet, but according to MovieTowne Director Hadyn Gadsby, they hope to commence work by December. He added that the housing complex is also set to be constructed for the first quarter in 2018 but it is still in its planning phase..read more here
Can the present UG administration deliver the institution from its political prison?
No astute witness to the cataclysmic decline of the University of Guyana over the years would seriously challenge the view that the prevailing conditions at the institution are, in large measure, a function of the debilitating diet of crass political intervention that it has had to endure and much of which has manifested itself in some of the most unenlightened and counterproductive feuding between the country’s two main political parties. UG, of course is not the only supposedly autonomous state institution that has, over the years, been blighted (and in some instances ruined) by the dead hand of political intervention. One of the distressing and debilitating tendencies of the Guyanese political culture is that possession of power is customarily attended by a proclivity for dominance of all that the state controls, even including those institutions that are governed by constitutional provisions that frown upon direct political intervention. It is that tendency by our politicians to refuse to recognize and respect the nexus between the independence of those institutions (like UG) and their effective functioning that has been, in large measure, responsible for the near ruinous state from which the University is now seeking to recover.
UG, as was mentioned earlier, is not the only presumably autonomous local institution to have suffered the ignominious fate of crude political intervention. Various state-run but autonomous institutions like the Guyana State Corporation (GUYSTAC), the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) and the Guyana National Co-operative Bank (GNCB) come to mind. The interventions have come for various reasons one of which is as trivial as the desire by politicians so positioned to flex their muscles. Another, as was widely believed to be the case with the GNCB, was simply in order to grant political favours. In more recent times there have been revelations of alleged corruption-related political intervention in state-controlled bodies like the Central Housing and Planning Authority. (CHPA).
In the case of UG there is a long-standing case to be made for a nexus for the underperformance of the university in the execution of its primary function and the dead hand of politics as manifested chiefly in the ongoing inter-party political feuding.
Whether or not the present Vice Chancellor of UG, Professor Ivelaw Griffith will find himself batting on a better wicket than that of his predecessors as far as undue political interference at the university is concerned remains to be seen. One makes this point having regard not only to what has obtained over the years, but also having regard to the fact that we are in the midst of a political season in which just about every conceivable issue precipitates a faceoff.
Sad to say and setting aside the customary political rhetoric, there has been no really persuasive evidence over the years that our political leaders have been seized of the importance of the link between an accomplished higher institution of learning and the creation of the various skills necessary for a multi-faceted development agenda. Otherwise, surely, UG would not have been so starved of funds over the years so as to suffer the kind of devastating decline in both material and intellectual resources that it has. Indeed, the contemporary image of UG is, in large measure, a function of its overwhelming undernourishment and the fact that it had become a lightning rod for political feuding.
Political assaults on the sanctity of the university have had the effect of completely rendering its substantive managers virtually impotent so that when the sparks begin to fly those functionaries (notably the Vice Chancellor) have found themselves at odds with the political interlopers but powerless to engage them since state funding remains the life blood of the institution.
Professor Griffith, his more than three decades-stay outside of Guyana notwithstanding, would have been staying abreast of developments at home and specifically at UG and would doubtless be aware of the fact that the institution had become a political battleground over the years. Indeed, he made it clear in an interview with the Guyana Review two weeks ago that he had indeed been tracking developments at UG from abroad and that he was aware of the overwhelming failure of “different governments” to be mindful of what he says (and here he insists that he speaks from considerable experience of universities in North America and Europe, among other places) is “a cardinal rule that the intrusion of politics into the affairs of the University is not good for the University,” nor is it good for “society;” and the Vice Chancellor, surely, must have had UG particularly in mind when he added in a rejoinder that “the fact that you are a state university does not mean that the university should be dictated to politically.”
Up until now Professor Griffith does not appear to be unhappy (at least it does not seem so) with his relationship with the government. One anticipates, however, that there could be testing times ahead particularly when it comes to what he says is the necessity for a greater infusion of state funding from government (among other sources) into the rebuilding of UG. What, however, is significant about the Vice Chancellor’s position on the relationship between his administration and the political powers that be is that his own stated position is clear. This is what he had to say about his disposition to political pressure in the matter of the running of the university.
“… I have made it quite clear that I am not going to be a Vice Chancellor that facilitates that internal political dictation – who to hire, who to fire, what student to admit, what to publish. The University must be a place, a for neutral ground for all places, critical of government, critical of opposition and as a Vice Chancellor I have asked for the importance of civility.”
It has to be said that the perspective of the Vice Chancellor on the kind of leadership that he seeks to bring to the running of UG is, in some significant ways, not in keeping with the outlook demonstrated by the politicians over the years. There have been interventions, several of them, in some of the very areas which Vice Chancellor Griffith says he is determined to set his face against. The extent to which he gets his way in the period ahead could have a profound impact on our success or otherwise in pursuit of the re-tooling of UG to play what, in the period ahead, could be a critical role in intellectually equipping the nation to meet its critical developmental needs.
Renaissance Vol. 2 No. 3
The collaboration between the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and the Centre for Communication Studies (CCS) of The University of Guyana brings to you this Volume 2: No. 3 edition of Renaissance, a monthly newsletter. Renaissance is the Vice-Chancellor’s medium of sharing with you our University’s developments.
The month of March was filled with activities held in observance of International Women’s Day. Ms Audrey Benn, Lecturer in the Women Studies Unit has written an important message on the importance of celebrating women and our own Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Engagement), Dr Michael Scott shared an impacting poem, both of which we hope you will reflect on.
In this edition you will also read about a number of lecture series hosted by UG: Turkeyen and Tain Talks VI and the VC’s Renaissance Lecture Series II.
UG recently launched its very own press as a publishing arm in collaboration with Ian Randle of Jamaica’s Ian Randle Publishers. This is truly an historic move by our University. The Renaissance team had an opportunity to profile the new Director of the Centre for Biodiversity, Dr Gyanpriya Maharaj.
Additionally, in March the winners of the Turkeyen campus’ Open/Career Day were announced. We congratulate the Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences on winning the first place, Vice-Chancellor’s Cup in this event.
Our alumni around the world have certainly made us proud. We feature in this edition of Renaissance the story of Ms Sonnel David-Longe’s 2017 Ridding Reading Prize from the Girton College of the University of Cambridge in the UK.
As you read, be inspired to join us as we celebrate UG’s Renaissance!
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Multi-million dollar contracts awarded to fix roads & bridges, procure classroom equipment for UG
Cabinet at its meeting on Thursday, April 13, 2016, noted the award of contracts by the procurement entities and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board(NPTAB)in the area of rehabilitative works, infrastructural development and other areas.
The University of Guyana and the business community
Based on what he had to say on the issue during a recent lengthy interview for a forthcoming issue of the Guyana Review, it is clear that University of Guyana (UG) Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith believes that the future of the university will be heavily dependent on the quality of the relationship that it can cultivate with the private sector.
This is not surprising given his international background in key university positions in the United States and elsewhere. Professor Griffith understands only too well the symbiotic relationship the informs interaction between universities and the business community in First World countries and his focus on building such a partnership here in Guyana would be driven pretty much by his knowledge of successful outcomes elsewhere.
It has to be said that the desirability of strong ties between UG and the local business community did not begin with Professor Griffith’s advocacy. The idea has evolved in fits and starts and one can think of instances of grand plans and grandiose gatherings, which, once they would have gotten past the stage of rhetoric, have simply fizzed out. This is not to say that some have not met with a measure of success. There are examples in the telecommunications, technology and other sectors, of protracted and useful, indeed successful relationship between UG and the private sector though the overall UG/business community relationship has come nowhere near to that level of success.
One of the views that appear to inform Professor Griffith’s perspective on the fortunes of UG has to do with the fact that it has, for years, had to endure the dead hand of politics and there is no reason to believe that this does not extend to the lack of any comprehensive success in the realm of UG/private sector relations. Here, in probing the likely reasons for the underdevelopment of the relationship, Professor Griffith makes a number of interesting points, not all of which can be ventilated here; one, however, which has to do with the quality of the relationship, is eminently deserving of mention.
On the whole, the various UG/private sector relationships that exist are mostly informed by the phenomenon of giving on the part of the private sector and receiving on the part of the university. If it may be unkind to describe this type of relationship as parasitic, Professor Griffith makes no secret of his belief that UG has to prove itself deserving of what is, in effect, the private sector’s investment in its growth and development. Here, he makes the point, and candidly, that whereas the private sector has been crying out for skilled UG graduates in a number of disciplines, UG has been ‘coming up short’ for some years now in terms of some of the skills that it has been sending to the private sector. “We have to give them reason to be confident that when they give they will see a changed output,” is what Professor Griffith said during the interview. In other words, the support of the business community for the University of Guyana cannot be a matter of authenticity.
More than that, and since there is an expectation that UG will help provide the skills to make the business community what we commonly describe as ‘the engine of growth,’ Professor Griffith wants the private sector to be involved in curriculum building; hence private sector support for the Turkeyen/Tain talks and the various other initiatives that seek the participation of the business community in helping to fashion aspects of curriculum specialization linked to their own interests.
Perhaps the advantage that the Griffith initiative has over its predecessors is that it presses into service external skills and experiences that can mobilize the resources necessary to undertake the journey towards a raising of its standards though the point that he leaves with us is that nothing is promised to UG and that if it is to secure the invaluable support which the business community can clearly give, it must earn that support.
Small Campus Fire at Turkeyen Contained
The University of Guyana is working with the investigators from the Guyana Fire Service and Guyana Police Force to determine the cause of a small fire which started at around 10:00 h on Tuesday, March 8, 2017. The fire is reported to have originated at the Digicel-owned generator located on the southern side of the recently refurbished Faculty of Health Sciences building on the Turkeyen campus. The fire affected only the back stairwell of the building, and caused some water and smoke damage in the vicinity. There have been no reports of injuries to either students or staff members.
Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, who is traveling on official business, received a call earlier today from the CEO of Digicel Guyana, Mr Kevin Kelly, who apologised for the damage and the inconvenience caused to the university community by the fire. The cause of fire is under investigation. The Vice- Chancellor applauded the professionalism of the Guyana Fire Service and is grateful that there were no injuries. He also thanked UG’s Security and Estates Management teams, and members of his Cabinet for their swift and effective action, and looks forward to having Digicel repair all damages quickly.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Michael Scott, who is the Officer -in-Charge of the university in the absence of the Vice Chancellor, said that, “the University stands committed to ensuring the safety and security of students and staff and following the advice of Fire Prevention Officer of the Guyana Fire Service, Mr Andrew Holder, the university would undertake a fire audit of all its facilities.”
Meanwhile, the Administration wishes to assure members of the university and wider community that instructional and other activities at Turkeyen are back to normal.
UG IN BRIEF
With a current enrollment of some 8,000 students, The University of Guyana (UG) has graduated more than 20,000 students who have gone on to successful careers locally, regionally and internationally. The University is also a major contributor to the national economy and to business and industry. Established in 1963 on a part-time basis with shared space at Queens College, UG moved to its own campus at Turkeyen in 1970 and expanded in 2000 with the addition of the Tain Campus. It now offers more than 60 Under- graduate and Post-graduate Programmes including the Natural Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Forestry, Urban Planning and Management, Tourism Studies, Education, Creative Arts, Economics, Law, Medicine, Optometry and Nursing. Several online programmes are available and The UG also offers extra-mural classes at four locations through its Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE). The UG also offers the opportunity for student engagement in debating, sports, and cultural, religious and professional activities.
Public Relations Division
March 8, 2017
Renaissance Vol. 2 No. 1 & 2
The collaboration between the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and the Centre for Communication Studies (CCS) of The University of Guyana brings to you this Volume 2: Nos. 1 and 2 editions of Renaissance, a monthly newsletter. Renaissance is the Vice-Chancellor’s medium of sharing with you our University’s developments.
In this edition we acknowledge the re-opening of the University for Academic Year 2016/2017 Semester II. As we approach the end of the h week of classes we hope students are settled and in full working stride, to have a productive and successful semester.
Some of the new developments at UG include: an MOU signed with London South Bank University; a contract with the Ministry of Public Security’s Citizen Security Strengthening Programme and the Inaugural Diaspora Engagement Conference to be held in Guyana.
Earlier this year a number of UG students and a few staff were affected by an apartment fire. We commend the University’s administration for their support to those affected.
The Renaissance team had an opportunity to profile visiting Professor David Phoenix, Vice-Chancellor of the London South Bank University and Dr Penny Sibert, Guyanese Fellow at Nottingham University. We hope you enjoy reading their stories.
Additionally, in February all Faculties participated in UG’s Open Career Day, showcasing students’ work, existing programs and new programs envisioned for the future. We thank all those hard working and dedicated staff and volunteer students for long hours spent in preparation for thousands of people who visited Turkeyen Campus on Career Day.
As you read, be inspired to join us as we celebrate UG’s Renaissance!
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Renaissance Vol. 1 No. 5
“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” – Rabindranath Tagore
As we approach the dusk of one year and the dawn of another and for those of us who follow the Gregorian Cal- endar that was introduced in 1582, the month of December occasions both retrospection and prospection. This dual engagement is even more important when December marks a milestone of some kind in one’s personal or professional pursuits. Mine is such a case, as December (14) 2016 marks the completion of my first six months as the Tenth Vice Chancellor and Principal of The University of Guyana.
The UG to which I returned after my student sojourn during the 1970s was one that faced—and is facing—resource, esteem, and perspicacity stormy seas due to prolonged institutional neglect. Mindful of Tagore’s prescient proposi- tion, I have embarked on the building of a Renaissance Bridge to cross our stormy seas, rather than to stand and stare. That this is a herculean task is an understatement; we have been having to offer financial and psychological life jackets to some,while providing others with canoes of hope, both to avoid drowning and to get a glimpse of the land ahoy. All this is being done while assembling and positioning the human, financial, and physical infrastructure to build the bridge. Put differently, we have been having to ride the bicycle with all its imperfections while fixing it, something I anticipate we shall need to do for a while.
From the outset, I sensed that the Renaissance Bridge requires four foundational pillars: Capital Investment, Aca- demic Enhancement, Economic Viability, and Alumni Engagement. Moreover, these must be tackled simultane- ously. We began doing this from Day I, with passion and purpose, facing and fixing, facilitating conversations that are uncomfortable to some and making decisions about which some colleagues are curious and others are critical. There have been many frustrations and challenges, some beyond the perimeters of Turkeyen and Tain, and it would be foolhardy of me not to expect more of these challenges in the future. However, I also have benefited from wonderful goodwill and support, which contributed to many notable achievements, some of which are highlighted later in this newsletter. Indeed, Renaissance is one of those achievements.
Permit me to take the opportunity here to thank the many individuals, groups, and companies within Guyana and in the Diaspora for the moral and material support provided so far. I anticipate needing to elicit more assistance in 2017 as we continue navigating our stormy seas and building our Renaissance Bridge. Special appreciation is extended to my loving wife, Francille, our children and other family members for their noted sacrifice and invalu- able support in allowing me to be away from the family as I make a needed contribution to my native land. Thanks, too, to the many friends within and outside Guyana for their advice, encouragement, and support. As I look toward the dawn of a new year, I ask that we stay the course in building our Renaissance Bridge.
Best wishes for a Wonderful Holiday Season as we keep on keeping on!
Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, B. Soc. Sci., MA, MPhil, Ph.D.
Tenth Principal and Vice Chancellor
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- The University of Guyana