Office of the President
P.O. Box 340, Belmopan
Email: [email protected]
April 8, 2013
The Editor, Albert Vellos
Dear Mr. Vellos,
I am writing with reference to the article – UB President slams GOB for lack of vision – which was published in the April 7, 2013 edition of your newspaper.
The article selectively quotes from a document that I presented to the Board of Trustees at the University of Belize on March 14, 2013 which presented an analysis of what I consider to be institutional weaknesses at the University of Belize and my recommendations for improving the performance of the University. That analysis and the recommendations arose from an audit that I commissioned and which was conducted by the firm Castillo, Sanchez and Burrell.
While I respect the freedom of the press as a universal right, I would also remind you that the press has a responsibility to engage in serious and informed reportage of matter that are published for public consumption. The article cited excerpts from the document but the headline and tone of the article seem to suggest that I am engaged in an ad hominem attack on the government of the day and on the Board of the institution. I wish to make it clear that my analysis of the University was clinical and was designed to identify problems and to propose solutions based on the need to improve institutional performance.
As you will no doubt recall, the University of Belize was established in 2000 and the UB Act was enacted in the same year by the People’s United Party government. My recommendations about the UB Act, and my analysis of the performance of the University, speak to some of the weaknesses that were institutionalized within the University by the sins of commission and/or omission in that statute. Other weaknesses were identified as operational problems that needed to be addressed.
I appreciate your effort to educate the public about issues at an institution of national importance but I would suggest that your coverage in this instance betrayed a lapse of professional standards and judgment. Perhaps, the search for political advantage in a highly polarized environment may have contributed to that lapse.
I came to Belize in 2011 as a 1976 graduate of the fledgling University of Guyana who remains deeply disturbed by the damage done to that institution since the 1974 decision to deny employment to Dr. Walter Rodney. Universities are precious commodities as institutions of learning and the incubators of the idea and practice of intellectual freedom. Caribbean and Central American societies have been the heirs to institutional heritages where freedom was the result of inter-generational struggles against slavery and other forms of bondage and the free press should exercise its right to safeguard that valuable privilege for the future development of these societies.
As a matter of professional courtesy, I would request that this letter should be published in as prominent position in your newspaper as was afforded to the original article.