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UTech President Errol Morrison should go, says committee

Published:Monday | March 10, 2014 | 12:44 PM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer



KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The committee that probed allegations of financial irregularities and bad governance at the University of Technology (UTech) has recommended that president Professor Errol Morrison be separated from the institution.




In its report, a copy of which has been obtained by The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre, the committee said it does not think that Morrison's continuation as UTech president would be in the best interest of the university.



The contract of the 69-year-old president is scheduled to end on February 2, 2015, but the committee has recommended that the Government immediately start a public search for a new university head.



Last year, the Education Ministry established a four-member committee to probe the operations of UTech following bad governance complaints by the staff union.



The committee’s report details an institution flouting government guidelines, making unapproved appointments, spending without proper accounting and distrust among its staff.







Unwieldy structure



According to the report, UTech is failing to adhere to established rules and has a heavy and unwieldy structure.



The advisory committee said too many of the issues that came before it could have been amicably settled if the university had a strong Council.



The Council is the supreme university body and has legal responsibility for all appointments and promotions, and for the maintenance of standards.



It was pointed out in the report that UTech has 1,404 people on staff but the Finance Ministry has only approved 623.



With regard to Professor Morrison who was appointed in 2007 on a five-year contract, the report said there were no prescribed procedures for a renewal.



It said the contract renewing Morrison’s appointment was not discussed with the appropriate persons and violates the Council’s function.







Questionable actions



Meanwhile, questionable actions of the president were raised.



They include his efforts to correct an imbalance in the desired number of staff with the highest academic degree in a given field.



According to the report, upon taking office in 2007, Morrison said he would move the number of staff with such degrees from 10 per cent to 18 per cent, but the committee found that when attempts to assist UTech’s staff to upgrade their qualifications failed, the president began an external recruitment process that resulted in the influx of high-profile individuals.



While commending the president’s objectives, the committee found that his methods caused considerable suspicion and mistrust among staff.



Despite comprising four members, only the two independent members, Chairman Ambassador Derrick Heaven and Shirley Tyndall made the recommendations.



The report was signed by the staff unions’ representative Olubusola Akinladejo.



UTech’s representative Dr Kofi Nkrumah-Young, who is also vice president of Planning and Operations did not sign the report.



This morning, the UTech president was reserved when asked to comment on the report saying all decisions would be left up to the University council.



OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF THE UTECH REPORT:

*An investigation by Finance Ministry, has found that president Morrison did not follow procurement guidelines in authorising £18,000 or J$2.7 million on an advertisement in England.



*Despite Geraldine Hodelin being appointed acting principal of UTech’s Western Jamaica Campus on a two-year contract in 2012, the post has not been officially established.



*UTech employed a lawyer who was de-listed from the New York Bar in the United States.



*UTech employed an 80-year old professor, noting that the professor has special and scarce skills.



*UTech is still in transition after 15 years.



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