The University of Guyana is Guyana’s sole national higher education institution. It was established in April 1963 with the following Mission: “To discover, generate, disseminate, and apply knowledge of the highest standard for the service of the community, the nation, and of all mankind within an atmosphere of academic freedom that allows for free and critical enquiry.” It began its operations in October of the same year at Queens College, the nation’s premier secondary school, before moving to the Turkeyen Campus in 1970. At first, programmes were confined to the Arts, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. A Faculty of Education was created in 1967, and this was followed by the Faculty of Technology in 1969, the Institute for Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE), began as an extra-mural unit, in 1975, the Faculties of Agriculture (1977) and Health Sciences (1981), the latter as an outgrowth of Natural Sciences.
A Forestry Unit was established in 1987 and it subsequently became part of the Faculty of Agriculture, and in 2003 the Faculties of Arts and Education merged to become the School of Education and Humanities. Additionally, the turn of the Millennium saw the formation of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES), born of the merger of the Geography Department and the Environmental Studies Unit. Also created were the Biodiversity Centre, which is pertinent to the activities pursued by SEES and the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, and a Centre for Information Technology (CIT), which serves the entire university. The University of Guyana expanded in 2000 with the addition of the Tain Campus in Berbice. (In October 2016, as part of a broader reorganization, SEES was transformed into the Faculty of Earth and Environmental Studies, with a Dean as academic and administrative head of the unit.)
The University of Guyana now offers more than 60 under-graduate and graduate (post- graduate) programmes, including in 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, as are extra-mural classes through the IDCE at four locations--in the city of Georgetown and the towns of Anna Regina, Essequibo, Region 2; Linden, Upper Demerara, Region 4; and New Amsterdam, Berbice, Region 6. The institution has a 2016 enrollment of some 8,000 students, and it has graduated more than 20,000 students, who have gone on to successful careers locally, regionally and internationally in all professional fields of endeavor. The University also is a major contributor to the public and private sectors and to the national economy.
The University offers certificate, diploma, associate degree, undergraduate degree, graduate (post-graduate) degree, and professional degree programs. These programmes are delivered through the following seven organizational units, called Faculties, each of which is headed by a Dean: Agriculture and Forestry; Earth and Environmental Studies; Education and Humanities; Health Sciences, with a School of Medicine; Natural Sciences; Social Sciences; and Technology. The largest unit is the Faculty of Social Sciences, with the following seven departments: Business and Management Studies; Centre for Communication Studies; Economics; Government and International Affairs; Graduate Studies; Law; and Sociology. The Department of Business and Management Studies, the largest unit in the Faculty of Social Sciences, offers three programmes; Accounting, Banking and Finance, and Marketing. As well, it has about 1,500 students, the single largest group in the Faculty of Social Sciences, and 15 faculty (10 full-time and 5 part-time). Moreover, it jointly manages the licensed Commonwealth of Learning Masters in Business Administration, and Public Affairs (CMBA/PA).
The University is governed by a Council, the policy making body, which is currently chaired by a Chancellor supported by a Pro-Chancellor. Both positions are non-executive positions. The current Chancellor is Professor E. Nigel Harris, MD, former Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, and the Pro-Chancellor is Ms. Bibi Shadick, LLB. The administrative and academic head of the University is the Vice Chancellor and Principal, who is also an ex officio member of the Council. The current—and Tenth—Vice Chancellor and Principal is Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, appointed in June 2016. The Council has two statutory committee; the Finance and General Purpose Committee, and the Appointments Committee. The other major organ of governance is the Academic Board, which is supported by two statutory entities, the Academic Policy and Planning Committee, and the Board of Graduate Studies. The Academic Board is presided over by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal. The Vice-Chancellor is aided by an executive team of Deputy Vice-Chancellors, a Registrar, a Bursar, and a Personnel Officer.
On August 22, 2016 the Finance and General Purpose Committee (F&GPC), the second highest policy making body after the Council, approved a proposal by Vice Chancellor Griffith to comprehensively restructure the university’s leadership. The reorganisation plan aims to create greater levels of efficiency and effectiveness and set the stage for innovation in academic and non-academic areas. The changes, which became effective on October 1, 2016, entail having Dr Michael Scott, until recently Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, become Deputy Vice- Chancellor (DVC) of Academic Engagement. In addition to the Faculties within his portfolio, Dr Scott will have oversight over several new units: a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; the School of Graduate Studies and Research; and the Office of Undergraduate Research, the latter two of which also will get some initial leadership guidance from the Vice Chancellor because of his expertise and experience in those areas.
The former DVC of Academics, Dr Barbara Reynolds, is now DVC for Planning and International Engagement, a new entity intended to streamline and extend UG’s international relationships and build new grant, research, and other relationships with other universities and with international organizations. Dr Paloma Mohamed, a former Director for the Centre for Communication Studies and a former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, now occupies the newly created position of DVC of Philanthropy, Alumni and Civic Engagement (PACE), which has the mandate to enhance UG’s fund-raising, rebranding, alumni relationships, and public interchange, all of which are crucial to the University’s renaissance. On assuming office, Vice- Chancellor Griffith had outlined in his Values and Vision Statement that Capital Investment, Academic Enhancement, Economic Viability and Alumni Engagement are imperatives for UG to undergo a paradigmatic shift as part of its renaissance.
The new administrative team has been strengthened with the establishment of an Office
of Strategic Initiatives in the Vice Chancellery, to undertake institutional strengthening, project management, and allied services. It is headed by Dr. Fitzgerald (Gerry) Yaw, Consultant on Governance, Sustainability, and Economic Development who has worked across the Americas and the Caribbean. The current Programme Officer in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Ms Karen Wishart, has been promoted to become the first Chief of Staff in the Vice-Chancellery. This promotion coincides with the renaming of the Senior Administrative Group to the Vice- Chancellor’s Cabinet, which includes the DVCs, Registrar, Bursar, Human Resources Director, Director of the Berbice Campus, the Legal Officer—another new position—the Director of the Office of Strategic Initiatives, and the Chief of Staff. The reorganization plan also contemplates some additional innovations: a Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, a School of Graduate Studies and Research, an Undergraduate Research Program, and a School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation.