Temporary administrative appointment worries UG senior staff at Tain
By Daniel Da Costa
June 18, 2003
The administrative officer at the Berbice Campus of the University of Guyana recently acted in the capacity of director during that official’s absence, but the arrangement has raised eyebrows among some members of the university’s Senior Staff Association (SSA).
The issue surfaced during a brief absence of Director Dr Parsram Thakur from the campus at Tain, Corentyne when Administrative Officer Ramdat Nankishore was left in charge of the institution.
A press release signed by SSA’s Secretary Dr Rishee Thakur on Thursday said “it was the second time in little over a month the administrative officer was apparently left in charge of the Berbice Campus.
Apparently the senior officer appointed to act when the director is away was relieved of his position without being officially informed which places the administrative officer next in line,” the release said.
According to the association, “once more folks with ten, fifteen, perhaps twenty years teaching at various universities, senior lecturers and professors, many with PhDs behind them were seemingly left taking instructions/orders from the administrative officer who is not an academic appointee. We are told that while there may be two campuses there is only one university and one set of rules for both. But none of us can remember when an administrative officer ever ran the Turkeyen Campus, especially in the presence of qualified academic staff.”
The release further noted: “It is a matter of concern that none of this is either known by or been discussed with the Academic Board, the authority within the university that gave approval for the establishment and has ultimate responsibility for the Berbice Campus.
“We have taken this extraordinary step of going public only after repeated efforts failed to yield a response from the Turkeyen administration while several previous complaints about the dubious administrative practices at the campus have gone unheeded,” it concluded.
Dr Parsram Thakur, responding to the statements described them as part of a “personal” problem involving his brother, Dr Rishee Thakur. According to the director, his brother was relieved of the responsibility of acting in his capacity during his absence by Vice-Chancellor Dr James Rose about four months ago. The director said this occurred after he had expressed some discontent with that arrangement.
He further explained that between 2000-2001, Nankishore performed the functions of director during his absence with the full knowledge and consent of the university’s administration at Turkeyen.
He however acknowledged the need for “an academic person” to be appointed by the administration to act in his absence, disclosing that the matter is being addressed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Marlene Cox. Dr Thakur also acknowledged that Nankishore, the former principal of Berbice High School was left in charge of the campus while he was away at a conference in Trinidad and Tobago from Monday to Wednesday this week.
The association in its release also pointed out that “it is not without a little irony that this is occurring at the very moment when a Review Committee is “investigating” the Berbice Campus”. However, this statement was described by the director as “inaccurate”.
He explained that “what in fact is happening is the Academic Board is looking at the problems of the campus... its high and low points in an effort to make it a better campus.”
The Review Committee, he said, which was established about three months ago has been meeting under the chairmanship of Professor Aubrey Bishop on a regular basis and will continue to meet over the next few months. Asked if Nankishore will act in his capacity if he had to leave the campus in the near future for one reason or another, the director replied in the affirmative.
In March a disagreement arose between the two Thakur brothers over the campus’ response to the fatal shooting of second year architecture student Yohance Douglas. The association had then called on its members at Tain to support a decision by the Faculty of Social Sciences to cancel classes as part of a period of mourning. The release was then perceived as an attempt by the association to disrupt classes at the campus. The director has also questioned his brother’s authority to sign press releases on behalf of the association.
Since its establishment the campus has been plagued by a serious staff shortage and a lack of laboratory facilities for Natural Sciences. These facilities are however expected to be provided in the near future but staff shortages may be with the campus for sometime yet.