ALTHOUGH they declined to disclose the amount of money budgeted for the inauguration ceremony of the 10th Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Griffith and Dr. Nigel Gravesande said the claim that the university is spending more than $10M on the ceremony is baseless, Freddie Kissoon, in his July 13, 2017 Column “Guyana is on autopilot mode; no one is in charge,” questioned why the country is spending $10M on an event it can do without.
“The previous nine didn’t have one. One of the union leaders said the projected 10 million-dollar figure is likely to be exceeded. The university’s response is that the money is not coming from the State. But that is nonsense, just like the atrocious explanation for the building of the Durban Park project,” Kissoon contended in his column.
When approached on the issue on Friday, Professor Griffith said not because it was never done in the past, means it should not be done now.
“It is a normal practice in all universities. The idea is to give yourself a time to accomplish something, to be able to build relationships, and to share not only accomplishments for the first period but plans you’ve got going forward,” he told reporters at his Turkeyen office.
According to him, the figure provided by Kissoon is not factual.
“They just plucked a figure out, so it’s no $10M,” he lamented.
“I don’t know the exact amount but I also know whatever it is, we are judicious in how we spend,” Vice Chancellor Griffith added.
The university’s registrar, Dr. Nigel Gravesande, who is also heading the planning committee, declined from disclosing a proposed budgeted sum.
“I am still in fact working on refining the budget. I would be in a position by next week to have cost based on empirical information. I wouldn’t provide the media with guestimates,” he told reporters.
The investiture ceremony would be held in the George Walcott Lecture Theatre, Dr. Gravesande pointed out, while explaining that many of the costs associated with the university’s annual graduation ceremony, will not be applied to this ceremony.
He said the costs directly associated with the investiture ceremony are based on three elements: the hosting of a reception, in which significant sponsorship from the private sector has been acquired; printing of the programmes and invitations; and at a minimal, transportation.
But when pressed for the proposed budgeted sum, Dr. Gravesande said there was none.
“We knew what was the cost associated with those elements, and we are seeking to finance those costs, through collaborative approaches involving corporate Guyana and the university itself.”
He added too that Kissoon is not known for having the “best evidence”.
“I have always defined the best evidence as that in which there is little or no element of self-interest, little or no element of ignorance, meaning lack of information, and little or no element of bias,” the registrar stated.
The investiture ceremony forms part of the university’s inaugural diaspora engagement conference billed for July 23-28 here in Guyana.
The objectives of the conference include engagement of the diaspora in facilitating the pursuit of entrepreneurship, innovations and social and human capital opportunities. In addition, the event will be used to discuss global best practices in diaspora-engagement policies and strengthen partnerships with organisations overseas.
As part of the calendar of events, President David Granger is expected to host the welcoming reception on the opening day of the event and he is also expected to deliver the keynote address the following day.
Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, will also speak during the early days of the event, while several government ministers have confirmed their participation.
In addition, British Member of Parliament, David Lammy, is expected to speak during the conference, while academics, civic leaders, businesspersons and members of the diplomatic community are also expected to participate in the inaugural event.
The investiture of Professor Griffith as the university’s 10th vice chancellor will take place on the last day of the event. It is the first time a vice chancellor will be officially installed as head of the university.
The event’s last day will also be highlighted by a cultural extravaganza and will be organised by London-based musician Keith Waite.