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UTech too important to be divided

Former UWI principal calls for unity at Hope Road university

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 20, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chairman of the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC) Professor Kenneth Hall is calling for an end to the tension at the University of Technology (UTech) between staff unions and the administration led by Professor Errol Morrison.

"The point that I wish to emphasise is that UTech is too important to be simply focused on its divisions. Rather, we hope that they can coalesce around a single vision, that they can commit themselves to the notion of building a Jamaica for the future," Prof Hall outlined.

The J-TEC chairman, who was speaking Tuesday at the opening of the two-day EduVision Conference at Hilton Rose Hall Hotel, St James, emphasised that UTech formed a major plank of Jamaica's tertiary system and that J-TEC was committed to supporting the university.

"Over the last few days all of us have been so transfixed with what is happening at one of our tertiary institutions. And the point, I think, ...is that the University of Technology constitutes a major pillar of that system. We are, therefore, committed to sustaining that and to allowing that institution to play its role in building a strong tertiary education system in Jamaica," Professor Hall stated.

"We are, therefore, appealing to all parties to restrain themselves," he urged.

A committee set up to investigate the cause of months of discord at the university last week recommended that Prof Morrison be sacked. Morrison was appointed president of the university in 2007.

The committee, chaired by former Member of Parliament and Ambassador to London Derick Heaven, cited operational and management inefficiencies at the institution and said that there was need for increased government control over its activities.

However, on Monday the university's governing council, after evaluating the report, announced that Prof Morrison will stay on as president until next February when his contract ends.

On Tuesday Prof Hall advocated for the parties at UTech to work out their differences internally. He recounted that was the road taken when a challenge with the union surfaced during his early years as principal of the University of the West Indies.

"...[The] first week I was there, I was met by the union who greeted me at my first meeting by walking out and saying we will meet you at the Ministry of Labour because we will not discuss anything with you," Prof Hall recalled.

"And I'll recommend to all parties the principles which we adopted. We are a part of the same institution, we must settle our disputes internally. There is no need for outside intervention," he emphasised.

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