UTech Jamaica: Prof. Vasciannie Shares Vision for UTech, Jamaica at First Staff Meeting January 11, 2017Posted by utechalumni in UTech Events, UTech News.
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Prof. Vasciannie Shares Vision for UTech, Jamaica at First Staff Meeting
Prof. Stephen Vasciannie, CD (at podium) President, delivers his inaugural address to members of faculty and staff during a general staff meeting held at the Alfred Sangster Auditorium, UTech, Jamaica Papine campus on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. Seated at the head table are Mr. Richard Powell, Pro-Chancellor, who introduced the President and Dr. Elaine Wallace, University Registrar.
A capacity audience of members of faculty and administrative staff turned out at the Alfred Sangster auditorium, UTech, Jamaica’s Papine campus on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 for an introductory meeting with new President, Prof. Stephen Vasciannie, CD.
In his wide ranging address to staff, Prof. Vasciannie shared his personal vision for his stewardship as President of the University, which he emphasized, will be anchored by an inclusive approach to decision making. “It is prudent for me to continue consultations with the various stakeholders of the UTech, Ja. community with a view to ascertaining your perspectives,” he said, adding that “I will seek to find out your own vision for the institution: where are we now, in your view? Where should we seek to go? And what are some of the constraints that limit the great potential that UTech, has in serving Jamaican society and the wider Caribbean.”
The incoming President articulated his intention to oversee an “inclusive institution where attention is paid to the views of the different stakeholders.” To thunderous applause from the gathering, Prof. Vasciannie underscored that his modus operandi will be one of open channels of communication, “transparency, fairness, justice and integrity” as principled components of his personal vision in working together with both internal and external stakeholders to ensure the good name, reputation and advancement of UTech, Jamaica.
Meetings with Internal and External Stakeholders
Turning his attention to some of the varied issues and concerns which have been raised by internal and external stakeholders during a series of meetings and courtesy calls since taking up office on January, 3, Prof. Vasciannie noted that he will engage in further discussions before putting forward a detailed statement on the various matters.
During the course of last week he participated in meetings with the management team, heads of the three staff unions, Minister of Education, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid and other senior officers in the Ministry and the University’s Chancellor, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, ON, PC. Prof. Vasciannie noted that further consultative meetings will include the Students’ Union Council and visits to UTech, Jamaica’s other campuses over the next few weeks.
Prof. Vasciannie specially thanked his predecessor Prof. Colin Gyles who acted as President for the period August 2015 to December 2016 for his “hard work in holding the fort” and for being a source of information about developments at UTech, Ja. He also expressed gratitude to Dr. Haldane Johnson who acted as Deputy President during that period and extended appreciation to the Council led by Pro-Chancellor Mr. Richard Powell who was key in his recruitment as President, as well as to University Registrar, Dr. Elaine Wallace and Deputy Chairman of Council, Mr. Michael McAnuff Jones “who have been instrumental in providing guidance and insight.”
The new President’s well-received address was punctuated with nodding approvals and spontaneous applause as he outlined a number of operational areas he would like to see bolstered. Among them – an enhanced student-friendly environment and the promotion of student scholarship, interests and learning. He also called for greater focus on independent research and publishing that will feature aspects of the work of UTech, Jamaica in the context of the Jamaican society.
Referencing an held opinion that UTech, Jamaica should “focus on technology and scientific matters and leave other subjects to other places,” Prof. Vasciannie emphasized that “our focus on technology and scientific matters need not prompt us to ignore other issues,” pointing out that areas such as business related studies leading to commercial activities are of profound significance to Caribbean societies. Prof. Vasciannie also noted that UTech, Jamaica should maintain its commitment to teaching and research in the humanities, law and other areas which are not purely scientific. “There is no case for any one institution having a monopoly, by right, over any area of study in a Jamaica committed to competition, increased opportunities and enhanced enrolment for students,” he affirmed, to loud applause from the large gathering of staff present.
Alternative Funding Opportunities
Prof. Vasciannie rounded out his twenty-minute presentation with the matter of the University’s well-known financial constraints and the dwindling funding from central Government. He proffered the need to “work more assiduously to promote alternative sources of funding,” citing greater partnership with the private sector at home and abroad within the ambit of “good governance practices and transparency.”
He ended his remarks with an appeal for reconciliation and healing within the University community. “I suggest that we work calmly and carefully to heal the breaches that may exist within our community,” he said, adding that “reconciliation does not require us to abandon our principles and values, but it requires us to listen to each other.” Noting that “UTech has made valuable, practical contributions to the lives of thousands of Jamaicans,” he called for a “redoubling of our efforts to continue our major contribution to national development, to serve our students, to enhance research and innovation for development, and to improve social understanding as Jamaica seeks to move from the Third World to the First.”
A robust question and answer session followed in which the President responded to questions and comments made by members of faculty and staff.
President, Prof. Stephen Vasciannie greets members of faculty and staff who warmly welcomed him following his address
Corporate Communications Unit
University of Technology, Jamaica
January 11, 2017
Photographs: Calvin McKain Library