Wednesday, February 1, 2012

UG Council members break silence on Kissoon contract fiasco

Four members of the University of Guyana (UG) council last night defended the decision to rescind the contract of lecturer Freddie Kissoon, saying that he failed to meet staff requirements and that no member of the body was in favour of keeping him on.

Breaking their silence on the decision, Indra Chandarpal, Bibi Shadick, Nirmal Rekha and Gail Teixeira said in a joint statement that Kissoon’s contract was reviewed as part of a move to correct a breach in hiring by current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lawrence Carrington.

The statement read as follows:

We, members of the University Council, Mrs. Indra Chandarpal, Ms Bibi Shadick, Nirmal Rekha and Ms. Gail Teixeira, have patiently waited for the last seven days for the University authorities to publicly correct the misinformation, lies and personal attacks that we individually and collectively have been subjected to in the media, by the uninformed, politicians and on the various social networking sites since the implementation of the Council decision of January 18, 2012.
We complied with the code of the Council to not disclose the private and internal discussions of the Council and its various bodies. However, due to the lack of response by the UG authorities despite our repeated requests and in the face of the constant and consistent breach of the code, we have decided to provide the public with a factual account.
As Council members with other members representing civil society bodies, parliamentary opposition and the governing party, as well as members of the staff at the University, we make decisions in accordance with the University of Guyana Act and the Statutes of the said institution as a collective and by consensus, rarely by vote.
The issue of contracts of academic staff who have reached 60 years of age has been addressed by the University with policies going back many years. Nothing has changed. In fact the only thing that changed is that these are being implemented.
Despite the fact that the Vice Chancellor renewed the contracts of 12 retired academic staff members who were over the age of 60 without recourse to the Appointments Committee and Council as required by the Act, the Council in October 2011 ably supported by the legal opinion of a outstanding legal luminary in the Law faculty, decided that it urgently needed to correct this breach of the statutes. The Council therefore sought to have these contracts that were improperly executed go through the correct process. Regrettably Council’s attempts to do so took until January 18, 2012 to be concluded.
That Council meeting of January 18, 2012 addressed that outstanding issue and endorsed the recommendations of the Appointments Committee. The Council considered the appointments of 37 academic staff which included eight of the 12 of those whose contracts were improperly renewed. The Council accepted the recommendation that those who were at the level of Professor or Senior Lecturer be retained. Of the remaining four retirees who were referred by the Appointments Committee to the Council, the Council agreed to retain three of them on a part-time basis.
Mr. Kissoon reached 60 on December 30, 2010 and as is usual was allowed to continue to conclude the academic year until August 2011.
The Council recognized that Mr. Kissoon, a retiree and a Lecturer 2, failed to meet the university policy with regards to retention of academic staff:-
(1) have a healthy academic record to wit research and publications reviewed by academic peers are a requirement;
(2) have to face a competitive process with other applicants.

The Council was unimpressed and not one single member of the 14 Council members present at that meeting, including the UGSS and fellow colleagues of the academic staff, not a single member supported his retention. The Council rescinded his contract.
The Council also agreed that with four new members of staff and existing staff the students would not be disadvantaged by his absence.
These are the incontrovertible facts.
The barrage of lies, downright misinformation and political opportunism can somewhat be related to the lack of this information in the public domain, and we the concerned Council members expect that these facts disclosed in this release have set the record straight.

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