UTEB “gravely concerned” about recent comments of UB president

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB), on Wednesday expressed that it is gravely concerned about recent statements made by University of  the Bahamas president, Dr. Rodney Smith, in which he blamed the submission of late grades by faculty as the reason for the long lines at the University’s registration exercise for the Spring semester.

UTEB released a statement to the media yesterday, which outlined that they like the general public to be fully aware of the real issues.

According to UTEB, UB recently introduced a new academic and financial data management system called  BANNER and the system, UTEB claimed, was introduced without provision of adequate employee training.

Additionally, UTEB said the trial period was too short and issues within the system were not resolved prior to rollout. These included faculty not being able to access the system to put in grades, students’ transcripts not reflecting courses completed, lack of access to register new students and billing errors.

UTEB claimed that the UB President is well aware of the myriad problems that UB has been experiencing with this new system, but in spite of this, he has frequently heralded it as one of the major upgrades of the university.

UTEB said it is very disappointed that during the entire Banner rollout process, there has been a lack of involvement of experts in the field that exist within the faculty branch of the University.

“Notwithstanding the existence of Computer Information Systems programmers at the University and a cadre of talented professionals both full time and adjunct, the University is yet to engage their services or seek their involvement in addressing the problems which continue to arise with use of this Banner system,” UTEB said.

UTEB said what Dr. Smith failed to acknowledge is that the new Banner system implementation and roll out has been plagued with challenges, including unplanned deregistration of 300 students during the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester; failure to attach teaching faculty to their  assigned classes in a timely manner, resulting in them not being able to interact online with  students or access students in the system even up to the final examination period.

“Additionally, on the Monday and Tuesday that students suffered, waiting in long lines in the hot sun for hours without access to seating or water, there was no leadership shown by the senior administration, which Dr. Smith and Dr. L. Davis share major responsibility for,” UTEB claimed.

“The preparation made by their team was inadequate. Staffing levels were inadequate. Organization of activities was poor.”

UTEB said in November 2018, after meeting with UTEB executives and the Department of Labour officials, Dr. Smith stated that he accepted responsibility for the failure of him and his administrative team to communicate with UTEB during this transitional period.

UTEB said Dr. Smith committed to ensuring that this wrong was corrected, but so far, other than the announcement about the change in the UB lead negotiator status, there has been no meaningful dialogue with UTEB, yet UB Administration and the Academic Senate continues to function under the guise of an absent and non-existent Industrial Agreement.

“UB continues to experience the pains arising from the myopic approach by administration, which is their modus operandi. The flawed system rollout and the long lines were just the latest outcome of this approach,” UTEB said.

“Rather than blame faculty, the President ought to examine his inner-circle style of management and be more inclusive of his faculty who appear to only exist on the fringes of his visioning.”

Meanwhile, UTEB said the industrial agreement was developed through a process of careful review and negotiations and was ultimately agreed to and signed by both parties.

The union claimed that Dr. Smith and his teams continued push to ignore the well thought out and mutually agreed terms, and the consistent failure to consult on matters of mutual concern will continue to delay the progress of our national institution.

“A leader not only speaks of responsibility, but acts responsibly, demonstrating leadership through actions,” UTEB said.

“We cannot expect success in our national institution when the President and his team support a modus operandi that seeks to work outside the terms of the IA (industrial agreement) and ignore the wisdom of consultation and collaboration with all stakeholders,” the UTEB statement concluded.

Up to press time last night, attempts to reach to the UB president for comment were unsuccessful.