Garcia: Cabinet told me to announce new UWI chancellor
Garcia defended his announcement regarding the next Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine, after the university expressed surprise, saying it was not aware of the development.
Responding to an urgent question put forward by Chaguanas East MP Fazal Karim in Parliament on Friday, Garcia said that the new Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, would be officially announced after a meeting of the University Council next Thursday.
“A procedure has to be followed,” Garcia said, which was met by laughter from some members.
“There will be a meeting next Thursday in Barbados of the University’s Council in which the report of the University’s Search Committee will be presented.”
“After that has been done the University Council will decide when the new chancellor will assume office.”
He said the current Chancellor will demit office on July 31, 2017.
Karim said Garcia's announcement at Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing, in which he said that business magnate Robert Bermudez had been chosen as the next Chancellor, was a contravention of University rules which prejudiced the decision-making process.
However, Garcia stood by his statement, saying he had been authorised to do so.
“My statement at the post-Cabinet media was by no means premature. There was a Search Committee that was appointed to identify a choice for a new chancellor."
"I was directed by the Cabinet of this country to make such a statement.”
“In fact it was the feeling of Cabinet that at this point it was safe and prudent to make such a statement.”
A statement from the Education Ministry said Cabinet was “kept informed on the deliberations of the Search Committee especially since Robert Bermudez was a nominee of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago”.
"Minister Garcia was directed by Cabinet to report to the general public on the facts as they stood, pertaining to the recommendation of the Search Committee on the appointment of the New Chancellor of The University of the West Indies."
“Cabinet waited until in its opinion, it was safe and prudent to advise our population on this development,” the statement said.
UWI said Thursday that it noted Garcia’s announcement with surprise, as Chancellors are appointed in accordance with the University’s Statute 4 which clearly states, “The Chancellor shall be appointed by the University Council.”
Bermudez, who is the founder of the Bermudez Biscuit Company, would become the first non-academic Chancellor of the UWI, if he is chosen.