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UB president’s fate to be decided Print E-mail
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Thursday, 08 April 2010 00:00

Santos MahungThe Prime Minister is yet to decide on the fate of UB President Santos Mahung; however, some members of staff at the University of Belize are alleging the affairs of the university are being ‘politicized’. In speaking with Minister of Education Hon. Patrick Faber, he explained that nothing could be further from the truth. 

Hon. Faber explained that since the turmoil began at the University of Belize, he’s had a ‘hands off’ approach to the matter allowing for the university’s board to manage the affairs of the institution. He added that he kept out of it as minister by

design. He says that he has purposefully stayed away from the everyday management of the University of Belize, giving the board the chance to operate and work in an environment that is totally free from political interference. Minister Faber further explains that the matter of the dismissal of the president is one which the board of UB had written the Prime Minister about. The decision to remove Mahung as president is a decision that will be taken by the Prime Minister after the president has given his side of the story to the PM, that has taken place and a decision is being awaited.

In speaking with the University of Belize’s board chairperson Imani Fairweather, she explained to the Guardian that the recommendations of the dismissal of the President was based on performance of the President; however, she was not at liberty to discuss the issues since it is a legal matter which entails a process by which he has the right to explain himself.  At the end of the day however, Fairweather says it will be a decision solely for the Prime Minister to take. 

On the issue of the faculty complaining about the recommendations to dismiss Mahung, Fairweather says she was taken aback by the sentiments since the faculty has a representative on the board who has the responsibility to report to the staff membership on the workings of the board. There are 15 members on the board she says and each has their responsibility to those whom they represent.

Echoing that sentiment was Hon. Faber who explains that the way the UB board is set up allows for representation from the staff members on that board. The decision to make the recommendation to the Prime Minister for the termination of the president was done by the entire board and he says he’s not sure if the staff representative, Leonardo Pot, was present when the board made decisions. On the matter of the termination, Minister Faber points out that “if there are breaches in the contract it should be discussed with the parties involved” since it would not be legally proper that somebody’s terms of his contract or breaching of the agreements in the contract is disclosed to the general public.

While neither the Minister nor the board chairperson would discuss the ground by which Mahung’s termination is being contemplated, we would surmise that it has something to do with the fact that in October of last year amidst proposed increases in tuition the president opted to not disclose either willingly or unwillingly the fact that the university was in a financially viable position to postpone the increase in tuition. Actually five million dollars was found to be in the university’s bank accounts. There is also speculation that as president he may have delayed the construction of certain projects. Added to that is speculation that a graduation held earlier this year was held without the consent of the board in contravention with the university’s policy. In fact, the only body that can confer degrees on graduating students is the board and that was not the case until after the graduation ceremony took place. There are also allegations that other policies of the university were consistently ignored.