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College Council Complains of Cabinet Delay

Nearly a month after the College of The Bahamas (COB) Council made a recommendation to the government to reappoint former COB President Dr. Rodney Smith to that post, there has still been no final word on the matter, prompting the council over the weekend to release a statement on the Cabinet delay.

In the statement dated Friday August 1, 2014, the Council noted that on June 12 it informed the Minister Of Education Jerome Fitzgerald of its determination and was then informed by the minister that the matter of the approval of Dr. Smith as president of COB would be made the subject of a decision by the Cabinet of the Government of The Bahamas.

The release added that considering how long it has taken to make a final decision on the matter, it felt forced to once again address and defend the controversy surrounding their pick for COB president.

“The subsequent media coverage of this matter and the length of time it has taken to bring this matter to a conclusion, now compels council to make this statement in the interest of providing faculty, staff, senior administrators and students with an update regarding the search for a president of COB,” the release added.

“Council would first like it to be known that council’s choice of Dr. Rodney Smith as its preferred candidate is in keeping with the assessment conducted by the ASC of the four shortlisted candidates. In its assessment of Dr. Rodney Smith, the ASC noted that Dr. Smith had extensive leadership experience, impressive credentials, and an in-depth knowledge of the institutional mechanisms needed to ensure peak performance levels in all areas of the operation of an academic institution. Indeed, across all of the assessment tools used by the ASC to evaluate the candidates, Dr. Smith consistently scored the highest. The ASC also found that Dr. Smith was the candidate best able to articulate the vision of the Council and the mandate of the government for leading the college through the process of becoming recognised as a university in 2015.”

The COB Council also emphasised that the search process was open, fair, transparent, and respectful of stakeholder interests.

“For both the ASC and council, the only question mark that hung over Dr. Smith’s candidacy for president of the college was the circumstances that led Dr. Smith to leave the college in 2005 after having served as its President for approximately a year,” the release added.

“Notwithstanding this concern, ASC members and council members were of the view that Dr. Smith was, undoubtedly, the best candidate for the position of president of COB. In reaching this position, the ASC and council considered that Dr. Smith deserved a second chance because he had assumed responsibility for his actions that led to his resignation, had voluntarily resigned because of the act of plagiarism attributed to him, had suffered public humiliation, and had – in his various interview-encounters with ASC and council members – shown sufficient contrition over the circumstances that led to his resignation from the college in 2005.”

Moreover, the statement continued, as part of the formulation of its position regarding Dr. Smith’s candidacy, council members considered it a highly relevant factor that, notwithstanding the price and public humiliation experienced by Dr. Smith over the affair, Dr. Smith had been able to “weather the storm” and excel within the academic arena in the United States.

“There was no evidence to suggest that the events that led to Dr. Smith’s departure from the college was consistent with a repeating pattern of events in the life of Dr. Smith, which might suggest a character defect. This consideration also played a pivotal role in relation to the decision reached by the College Council,” it read.

Dr. Smith resigned as COB president in 2005 after admitting to plagiarising a portion of a New York University (NYU) president’s speech.

The ASC’s pick for president also issued a statement yesterday once again apologising for his nearly decade old plagiarism scandal.

In a press statement released on Monday, Dr. Smith lamented to deeply regretting the mistake he made coupled with the embarrassment it caused.

“Nine years ago, I made a serious mistake, that mistake resulted in my resignation from the presidency of the college,” he said.

“It was and remains my decision to accept full responsibility for it. I am determined to use my experiences to teach students and others of the importance of exercising good judgment and about consequences associated with carelessness in academia. This mistake will never happen again.”

Dr. Smith also responded to critics, including those individuals who oppose his re-appointment as college president.

“I continue to have respect and harbour no animosity toward any who may have questioned the appropriateness of my selection by the college council for the presidency of the college,” he said.

“The Bahamas is a great democracy where persons are free to speak their mind.”

He went on to encourage Bahamians to unite and focus on the future of the country’s youth and the development of a national university system.

“I know that the college will need the support of all Bahamian people, corporations and organisations in creating a national university system; along with that of all civic and political leaders throughout the country and the international community, in general,” he said.

“If I am offered the position and we are able to negotiate acceptable terms, it would be an honour and a privilege to serve the College of The Bahamas and my country as a whole, the larger Commonwealth of The Bahamas, as we focus on futuristic goals. If we work together, I have no question that the future is extremely bright and positive. It is time to continue the movement forward, upward, onward and together. It is my sincere hope and prayer that, in time, all will come to appreciate the essence of which I am, a man of integrity with a desire to serve; including a burning desire to serve and advance his country.”

Overall, Dr. Smith expressed his gratefulness to faculty, staff, students from COB and others who have shown support during the presidential search.

Dr. Smith is one of four individuals who were shortlisted to head the institution

The other finalists included, Dr. Philip Carey, Dr. Gregory Carey and Dr. Olivia Saunders.

Prior to the committee’s selection of Dr. Smith, Former COB Council President and Businessmen Franklyn Wilson expressed his disapproval in the re-appointment of Dr. Smith.
Mr. Wilson warned that it would be a significant error for the country.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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