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GOB to Appoint Interim President for the University of Belize

With the agreement reached between President Sankat and the University of Belize, the UB Board of Trustees has apprised the Education Minister, Francis Fonseca and Prime Minister John Briceno of the terms of the settlement. Sanket demits office on July 30, and while a temporary replacement will be appointed, the task will be to find an adequate successor. Chair of the UB Board of Trustees Anthony Sylvestre, says that while the Prime Minister is the ultimate deciding factor, there is a process that needs to take place.

 Anthony Sylvestre, Chair, UB Board of Trustees: “The Prime Minister as you may know pursuant to the provisions in the UB Act he is the ultimate decider of who would be appointed to the office of president.”

Reporter: Have you and the Prime Minister and the Minister begun talking about considering people ?

Anthony Sylvestre, Chair, UB Board of Trustees: “No no no. See it’s a process and the process is supposed to be transparent so it is not one where there is a sit down and engagement it’s actually an application for the post those would be advertised and from there as is all advertisements there’s a process where ultimately there will be an interview, there will be recommendations and ultimately a decision will be taken.”

Reporter: Some of the criticism that Professor Sankat received when he was first appointed was because he was a foreigner. 

Anthony Sylvestre, Chair, UB Board of Trustees: “Let me say categorically and I’ll put this on the record that Professor Sankat has been in my view, in the short period of time that I’ve been chairman on the board he has been a first rate, sterling manager. Of course as with things people may have difference of opinion but from where I stand that is the position and that is the opinion that I hold and I don’t think that one ought to necessarily seek to as it were box our discussion, or conversation or consideration into an issue of whether a person, an applicant for an important post such as the President of the University of Belize to be one that is a “Belizean” as opposed to a non Belizean. I think what it does is the successful applicant must have the academic as well as the wherewithal and the necessary skillset to be able to manage a national university with its goal and objective of enhancing and ensuring that the product of the university, the products of the university the students and the university itself in other areas because our goal and objective as set out in the University of Belize Act is to assist and facilitate the national development and that is to be done through research and as well as ensuring that the quality of the graduates are such that they enhance and add to the entire community and the entire society of Belize. So that at the end of the day is what I think in terms of a successful applicant is that who best to be able to assist and facilitate in us furthering or continuing to further this objective of the national university.”

Sylvestre also spoke on the way forward for the University.

Anthony Sylvestre, Chair, UB Board of Trustees: “One of the first things we must do I mean any sensible, persons who assume such an office and again it needs to be highlighted that this is not a one man show there is indeed a board and as I indicated there are fifteen of us and these decision making are done collectively. As with all institutions and with all entities it’s a work in progress and so we are in the stage of continuing refining, retooling and so that is what I can say is being done at this point in time. The board’s remit is to provide policy guidance and so those policy guidance would be in terms of for instance say one of the- and I think very important policy guidance – would be in terms of say the programs. Okay what programs the university presently offers? Do those programs actually meet with the national development needs ? So one of the things like for instance that we’re doing right now we’re doing such a review. So we have for instance an academic subcommittee and these subcommittees they consist or comprise of not sole board members but persons with expertise and so you’ll have persons who with expertise who are in management, persons on the board but also outside. So what that does it allows for the board to be able to have a broader perspective and as well to receive the specialized expertise that is necessary in identifying, analyzing, examining these critical issues and then they make recommendations to the board as to the way forward. And so as it relates to that aspect the programs whether for instance this particular program has this past its relevance those are difficult questions that we are in the process of examining and considering right now.”