Universities are generally considered to be hallowed halls, a place where minds both young and mature go to explore and investigate new reams and upper limits of thinking, while removing barriers and boundaries, all with the acceptance that the end will see human kind better for all the expectations that it brings.
The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) is now celebrating its 10th anniversary, and within that life cycle it has its third Provost at its helm. A Provost in any University has the broad responsibility to ensure that the Universities’ programmes and faculty are of the highest quality. He directs the development and implementation of its academic plans, and policies, and supervises the work of its Faculties, Departments, Institutes, and Research Centers.
With respect to academic personnel, his most important responsibility is to decide with the assistance of the Tenure Advisory Committee, who should be recommended to the President and Trustees for tenure. He also authorizes, directly or through a representative, all academic appointments, salaries and leaves, and reviews faculty grievances.
In corporation with other senior administrative officers, he develops the University’s annual budget and long term financial plans and overseas the creation of a strong administrative services to support the University’s academic activities. He also serves as the University’s chief affirmative action officer.
The Provost is a member of all Faculties and administrative boards. In the event that the President is disabled, resigns, retires or dies, he temporarily serves in that capacity until the Trustees can appoint a successor. Sadly, what presently prevails at UTT for a Provost in no way reflect the pure responsibility of the office holder, as each action and decision is politically driven and measured without due consideration for faculty, programmes and students.
UTT’s Provost is fostering and promoting a plantation mentality where faculty are taught to believe that their only destiny in life is to obey the authority figures, and where thinking is not accepted but following his instructions which are barked or else you are sideline (I give it, and I take it away, as in the power of one – the only voice).
One will generally assume that a Provost who is worth his salt will have some leadership skills, a leader of men and women where a vision can be articulated, and direction given and followed. However, what the UTT has is a Provost illusion that cannot be shared and implemented.
In the absence of so much key attributes, one needs to ask the following questions:-
- What are the qualifications for a provost? The present Provost at the UTT is not a Professor.
- What job did the present Provost performed before he assumed the position at the UTT?
- What is the political connection and agenda of the present Provost?
This absence of leadership does not start and stop at the door of the Provost, as there have been in the recent past questionable appointments and hiring decisions, as one just have to look at the installment process for the Senior Manager Sport, and how the back door was opened wide for his grand entrance into the UTT even when there were more appropriate and qualified people who applied for the job and was never called nor shortlisted.
UTT have now been broken and has been strategically reduced to a community college where thinking and human development is no longer the order of the day, but politics of education driven by agenda’s other than programme and student development.
Heaven help us all….