‘Guitar Not Mouthar’ – Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith And The University Of Guyana


Commentary By Allison Skeete

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues.
May 14, 2019:
I am writing this opinion in
support of Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, Vice Chancellor and Principal at UG, not
because I wanted to be another voice among the many, but because of the impact
to date of his vision of a “renaissance” that is taking place at the University
of Guyana.

I
first met Dr. Griffith at the outgoing dinner of former Counsel General of
Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Harold Robertson, with whom I once sat on a particular
organization’s board of directors. As Professor Griffith spoke at this
particular event, I was impressed by his career path, his writings and his
professional achievements in higher education. 

Personally,
I emigrated from Guyana with my parents as a teenager.  At that time, I
dared not voice my thoughts of despair out of fear of reprimand.  Leaving
Guyana was a jarring experience because it interrupted my youth and left a
feeling of hurt, loss and resentment. From that exodus, I vowed to never to
forget Guyana.  I grew up in a family that stressed education, had
teachers on my maternal and paternal sides of our family; I am the niece of one
of the most respected teachers known as ‘Sir Fernandes.’

He
began his teaching career in the 1960’s and has dedicated more than 50 years to
teaching, guiding and mentoring so many who have made him proud of the part he
played in their academic success from–Chatham in Eccles, to Tutorial, St.
Rose’s etc. Education is the bedrock that builds the success of nations
and its peoples.

When
Dr. Griffith became the Vice Chancellor at UG, he believed it was necessary to
bring the University into modern times.  With that view in mind, Professor
Griffith established a group of Education
Resource Ambassadors (ERA),
with the aim of engaging UG alumni the Guyanese diaspora and other
international supporters, or “friends,” who shared his vision of a revitalized
educational institution. In June 2016, more than100 such alumni and
friends of UG accepted the invitation to serve the University as ERAs. 

At
that time, Dr. Griffith provided ERAs with a first-hand view of the state of
UG. To put it mildly, the stark conditions of disrepair and lack of equipment
for learning was incomprehensibly shocking! UG was once was known as the
bedrock of some of the best academic minds in the region among the Caribbean
nations and in the UK.  To
Sir With Love
 written by E.R. Braithwaite was a shining
example of the Guyana’s educational system and is one among many, many
more.

While
we ERAs did not all attend UG, we all had a yearning to do something for our
land of birth, and this seemed the perfect fit. We were willing to support the
VCs efforts.  As ERAs,
we participated in seminars to develop structure for programs and ways to help
with the vision of this UG Renaissance the Vice Chancellor explained to rebuild
his alma mater and position it as the University of the Region; rebrand UG as a
catalyst for many future successes and leaders of high caliber.  We played
“guitar not mouther,” making
financial and time commitments to the renaissance rebirth at UG. Many of us
continue to do so as the advent of economic growth beckons to the land of many
waters. UG has more support with small groups of alumni, friends and supporters
which annually raise funds for programs at UG and donate equipment, supplies
and more to see the renaissance fulfilled.

In
my opinion, the opposition to Dr. Griffith’s tenure stems from fear. I’ve
worked in corporate America for more than thirty years and the transparency he
demands and provides for everything done that benefits UG, the students, staff
and every project that takes place is unmatched.  That can be frightening.
What Professor Griffith has accomplished in three years means work is being
done, has been done and must continue being done.

The modern
university must have student input, it must provide enhanced learning
opportunities and instill a sense of capability to step into the future as a
viable adult contributing to the community that guided one through. 

This includes
seeing students engaged in undergraduate research; thinking of what oil and gas
means economically and that they can have better lives. I am involved with UG,
as a non-alumna, because of the VC. He has provided the opportunity for ‘give back’ to Guyana in honor of
the parents who provided me with the opportunities I’ve had. All of the
improvements made with the onset of his tenure have been listed numerous times
recently.

Vice Chancellor
Griffith must be allowed to continue carrying his mantle, his humility and
straightforward, no-nonsense character equates the interest, giving and success
we see in the improvements now at UG and ensures a positive future for
Guyana.  Now is the time for the University of Guyana’s international
success.

I
stand in support of the Vice Chancellor of University of Guyana, and the
dedicated staff and students who also support the work and improvements he has
enabled at the institution; their support is from front row seats to the
changes his tenure has made possible. 

To quote Sir Winston Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from failure to
failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

Vice
Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith defines this; having taken UG from failures to
success with enthusiasm in the face of unwarranted and/or misplaced objections.

EDITOR’S
NOTE: Allison Skeete is President of The Alumni and Friends of the University
of Guyana and Education Resource Ambassador.

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