Thursday 24 September, 2020

Professor Gordon Shirley heads new council for the CMU

Professor Gordon Shirley

Professor Gordon Shirley

Professor Gordon Shirley has been appointed Chairman of a new council of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives. He named the new members of the council during a lengthy statement on the state of affairs at the CMU, which has been embroiled in a scandal.

The members of the old council, which was headed by educator, Hyacinth Bennett, tendered their resignations in the wake of a damning report from the Auditor General’s Department, which cited numerous breaches of Government’s procurement guidelines totalling hundreds of millions of dollars at the East Kingston-based university.

Shirley is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority of Jamaica. He previously served as Principal of the Mona Campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI).

Holness said the new council was approved by Cabinet on Monday. He said the body will be mandated to set up a governance committee in accordance with a recommendation made by the auditor general. A risk and audit committee has also been established.

The other council members are:

Professor Ibrahim Ajagunna, who is currently acting CMU President

Professor Noel Brown, Deputy CMU President

Devon Gardener, Treasurer, CMU

Kerry Tulloch, President, CMU Alumni Association

Glenardo Simpson, President, CMU Students’ Union

Dwayne Powell, representative, Port Authority of Jamaica

King Clarke, Shipping Association of Jamaica

Trevor Riley, Shipping Association of Jamaica

Dr Donovan Stanberry, Registrar, the University of the West Indies

Dr Therese Chambers, University of Technology

Mark Hart, President , Port Handlers Limited

Rear Admiral Peter Brady, Maritime Authority of Jamaica

Dr Marshall Hall, Chairman, Jamaica Producers Association

Donovan Perkins, Everything Fresh Limited

Mitsy Gordon Burke Green, President, Custom Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association

Grantley Stephenson, representing the government of Norway

Peter McCarty, representing the Dean, CMU

Worrel Morris, representing the administrative and technical staff, CMU

Professor Gosif Oliver, representing professors of the CMU

Belinda Ward, Port Authority of Jamaica

The prime minister told the House that the corrective actions that have been taken to date in relation to the CMU, demonstrate the seriousness with which the Government regards the developments at the university.

He added that: “The board assembled has the requisite skills and competence to ensure that the policies already developed are quickly approved, quickly put into practice, and that that practice will become the norm at the CMU.”

Holness, who has overall responsibility for the Ministry of Education under which the CMU falls, told the House that the systems in place for the proper running of the ministry are generally okay. However, he admitted that challenges were identified at the CMU in the aftermath of the firing of Ruel Reid as Education Minister in March 2019.

The prime minister said a plan to overall the CMU was put in place, and work to implement the new systems was taking place from as early as April 2019. He assured that a procurement committee was now in place, as well as a procurement officer. He said whereas the council had virtually stopped meeting prior to 2019, eleven meetings were held between April 2019 and October 2019.

However, that revelation was dismissed by Opposition spokesman on Education, Peter Bunting, as nothing more than the prime minister being aware of the messy state of affairs at the CMU from the time he fired Reid.

Meanwhile, the prime minister hinted that there will be amendments to the legislation governing the CMU.

And he also said instruction was given to reduce the 22 bank accounts the CMU currently has on its books. Its trust fund, through which millions of dollars was transferred, is also to be wound up.

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