Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Ambassador Vasciannie named president of troubled UTech

Published:Saturday | December 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Seasoned academic, Stephen Vasciannie, fresh off his stint as Jamaica's ambassador to the United States, has been appointed president of the University of Technology (UTech), ending an almost three-year leadership vacuum at the national university, that is being investigated by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG)

Noting that he was "happy" that Vasciannie accepted the job, Richard Powell, the institution's council chairman, said the leadership of UTech "is confident that he (Vasciannie) will make an invaluable contribution to the growth and development of the university".

"The leadership of this distinguished Jamaican will enhance the ability of UTech to fulfil its role as Jamaica's national university in supporting the achievements of the country's development goals," Powell said.


University needs to be 're-imagined'


Vasciannie, a former principal of the Norman Manley Law School, is taking over two months after former permanent secretary in the education ministry, Dr Maurice Smith, told a parliamentary committee that the university needs to be "re-imagined". He made the declaration after parliamentarians were left surprised at the financial, academic and staff challenges that have been gripping the institution.

Acting president since August 2015, Colin Gyles, said the OCG probe started since 2013. That's one year before Professor Errol Morrison was reassigned as president on the recommendation of a Maxine Henry-Wilson-led committee that investigated allegations of financial irregularity and bad governance at the institution.

Gyles, who began acting after a similar acting stint by Ambassador Burchell Whiteman, admitted at the parliamentary committee meeting that the university was facing challenges, but he noted that some of them were linked to the transfer of responsibilities to the institution without the Government providing the necessary resources.

Vasciannie will take up his position as president on January 2, 2017 on a three-year contract.

His duties, according to the UTech statement, will be to "carry out the functions of chief academic and administrative officer of the university, reporting directly to the council, through its chairman, the pro-chancellor. He will be principally responsible for implementing the council's policies and will exercise such executive powers as necessary for the proper administration and operation of the university."

Vasciannie is married to Lisa and they have two sons.