He was serious at times, sometimes light-hearted, at other times pensive. He choked up midcourse, for moments a melancholy mood held him and he held back something lachrymose behind his eyes from streaming. Above it all we found a man uncompromisingly patriotic, a little greyer from his troubles and wiser for his gamble.
Professor Samad had just finished welcoming freshmen to the University of Guyana Berbice Campus at what could be his last Orientation exercise on this side of the Atlantic when UGNow sat down with him. With his resignation handed in and its reverberation being felt at Tain and Turkeyen campuses he has plotted a northern course to continue his academic writing.
(Read our story: UG Berbice Campus opens its doors | Orientation 2013)
“My departure from my home is very unwilling. I am being ripped from the bosom of my mother Guyana all over again. It is unpleasant but I will not tolerate being insulted. I am willing to give my life for my country,” Professor Samad stated.
He boasts that when he took the reins of “UGBC the student population was 250 and falling; now it’s a little more than a thousand. The Campus was losing money initially and under my tenure it registered a continual surplus due to good management and fiscal policy.”
Professor Samad said that he has changed an 86% ‘lecturers with first degree campus’ into one where the same percentage have masters’ degrees and up; the 14% are published in agriculture, chemistry and other areas in international scholarly journals.
“But the greatest triumph is the manner in which Berbice has taken ownership of this campus,” Professor Samad notes. “We train the Guyana Police Force through Felix Austin Police College. We teach them things like ethics and ethical behaviour, mannerly conduct, written communication, fundamentals of law, First Arrival Medical, and conflict resolution. As a result we have better cops out there.” He engages the business community regularly enabling the campus to offer scholarships to underprivileged students also.
There have been efforts by some to have Professor Samad withdraw his resignation. On this tenor he says that he can be persuaded to stay. He stated that there are only two circumstances which can have him stay on at UGBC: full autonomy from UG Turkeyen and the creation of the University of Berbice.
He promised that he can keep tuition at 127,000 and after eight years he can relieve the University of its reliance on government’s subvention. He says the campus can attract the best from Demerara and Essequibo, building dorms and a world class athletic track among other facilities.
He says that part of the problem between Tain and Turkeyen is that, “the UGBC’s structure was hurriedly put together and the existence of UGBC doesn’t enter into the consciousness of people at Turkeyen and some of the personalities don’t help.”
He stated that the campuses shared different ideologies on how the University should be managed. “The University is a business. It is a business unlike any other but is a business. It is a business where the student is a client paying for a product. They are paying for a service. The product being paid for is a better version of the client. And that is why a university is different, but if it is not run along the lines of a business it will go broke and that is precisely why Turkeyen is broke,” he stated emphatically.
“Turkeyen is dead! But it’s ashamed to close its eyes. It would take the Nazarene himself to bring back that Lazarus and we have no Nazarene’s in sight,” Professor Samad exclaimed.
He lamented the fact that he has no authority at Tain, “under this Vice-Chancellor all authority has been corroded”. Yet his time at UGBC has taught him the “pleasure of service, that there is joy just for itself, that people matter, goodness is forever and that love will prevail. It has made me a better human being.”
As the University of Guyana enters into the second decade of the 21st century, celebrating its 50th Anniversary it will be reflecting on its past achievements and hurdles, repositioning its self as the nation’s premiere education institution. If Prof. Daizal Samad’s departure is not a symptom of a larger problem, it is at least a departure the University cannot afford as it seeks to attract and retain the brightest and best.
UGBC’s Opening Ceremony and Orientation registered the absence of representatives from UG, Turkeyen, most notably the Vice-Chancellor Professor Jacob Opadeyi.