NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The University of The Bahamas Board of Trustees assured staff and faculty yesterday that any matter affecting the terms and conditions of employment must be negotiated.
In a letter obtained by Eyewitness News, the board responded to reports the university is considering a 20 percent salary cut, slashing insurance contributions, and retiring some faculty members with decades of service.
The issue comes as the university confirms its president Dr Rodney Smith will not renew his contract in August 2022. It was revealed that he has been shortlisted to head West Virginia State University (WVSU).
In the same letter, Jeannie Gibson, staff trustee, and Margo Birch-Blackwell, faculty trustee noted that while select trustees were informed of Smith’s intentions, others had to learn through social media.
The university posted on its website last week that Smith, along with the other two candidates – Dr Patricia Ramsey and Dr Nicole Pride – are expected to participate in a meet and greet on the U.S. campus.
Smith appeared in person on WVSU’s campus yesterday where he spoke about his plans to lead the university into the future.
“Why this would be done this way, we do not know,” the letter noted.
“It has unfortunately caused an unnecessary crisis for the institution at a critical time for us, the nation, and the global community.
“Please know that there are many layers to this present situation, which makes it more difficult.
“It seems that the information being leaked is meant to upset you and to confuse you. It’s doing a good job if the amount of persons sharing their concerns is any indication.
“We ask you to lift up your head to the rising sun and remember any matter affecting terms and conditions of employment of faculty and staff must be negotiated.”
Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB) President Daniel Thompson yesterday put his members on guard, advising them to be “ready to act”.
Thompson further expressed disappointment that the deliberations of the Board of Trustees may have been leaked to the press before the university was able to address the union.
“Nevertheless, we stand in solidarity and we are prepared to engage in dialogue and to take any other necessary actions on your behalf,” he said.