From the President’s Desk – January 2021 – Special Edition

From the President’s Desk – Special Edition

Volume 32


My Dear Colleagues – Faculty, Staff and Students:

I wish to warmly welcome all of you back as we continue the Academic Year 2020-2021, Semester II.  I hope you had a restful and happy but safe holiday.  I am aware that a few of our colleagues were afflicted with the COVID-19 virus but I am happy to share that they have all recovered and are ready to get back to work.  This is a timely reminder that this pandemic is far from over, we have to remain extremely vigilant as we witness several countries being very severely challenged at this time.  It is clear therefore, that we have to continue from where we left off at the end of 2020 with online teaching and learning being our mode of delivery.  Once more, I thank all our teachers and our students for engaging this way; your patience and tolerance with the technology and the pedagogy are very much appreciated. I am confident with time, dedication and experience we will all get better with this. In this pandemic environment our choices as a university are limited – most universities are faced with this. I therefore urge our faculty and our students to avail themselves of the training that is being delivered by the ODL and to remind all that the Academic Council decided that the Moodle teaching and learning platform was the one to be adopted by the University of Belize. There is an imperative for us to ensure the quality of our teaching, learning and assessments/examinations and I am guided that a single university platform, as most universities practice, will facilitate this assurance of the quality of our teaching online. So please once more avail yourselves of the training that is and has been offered for quite a number of years at UB, but one which has necessarily intensified at this time. I seek your understanding and support of this direction.

We also have to continue to be mindful of the COVID-19 health and safety measures as enunciated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.  Let us commit to adhering to these measures to protect not only ourselves but those whom we are going to interact with. Once again, we will work remotely using the technology wherever possible. There will be rotation of essential employees for some of our key services except for areas like Security, IT, Maintenance, UB Central Farm, etc., areas that have to be kept functional at all times.  I must thank our essential staff who managed these functions during the holiday period. Your immediate supervisor will guide you on these specific working arrangements as they relate to your office.

To our faculty and to our students who wish to use the IT facilities of the University on any of our campuses, please note that these are available for your use but will be managed with the necessary health and safety protocols in place. Of course, the same will apply to those programs where laboratory training or other experimental/experiential forms of training are required. The observance of health and safety protocols must be a priority.

As we look to the immediate future, we hope and pray that this pandemic will recede and that with the intervention of a COVID vaccine we may return to some level of normalcy. It is difficult to anticipate when this will become a reality but my hope is that for the new Academic Year 2021-2022 we may be able to bring some level of relief to our university and our situations.  Let us therefore be very hopeful.

To our returning students, let me wish you a successful semester and fruitful engagements with your lecturers. I know these are also difficult financial times for many but I ask you to do your part to ensure that the University can deliver on its mandate. At this time our students are owing, for the immediate past three semesters, over $400,000 to UB in tuition and fees. For those of you who need additional assistance with your tuition and fees, please contact our Finance Department so they can guide you with the appropriate payment plans, scholarships and/or loan schemes. I have been detecting falling levels of student enrolment as anticipated. I do hope in the new Academic Year this can be arrested through our Admissions Department/Registrar.

We begin the New Year with a couple of major changes in place.

I announce the departure of our long standing Director of Human Resources, Ms. Hertha Gentle, who has served us since May 3, 2010. We thank her for all she has contributed to UB and many of us individually, and we wish her well in her future endeavors. As her direct report, let me thank Ms. Gentle for her dedication and responsiveness.

I also wish to announce that our recently appointed Dean of the Faculty of

Management & Social Sciences (FMSS), Dr. Gilroy Middleton Jr., has been called to national service and is therefore leaving UB. Once more we offer our congratulations and best wishes to him in his new appointment as CEO of Immigration in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade & Immigration.

The Senior Management is announcing the following arrangements to maintain continuity in our services:

Ms. Tieola Requena, Human Resource Officer, will

assume the responsibility of Interim Director of HR and Dr. Vincent Palacio, a former Dean of FMSS,

is to be the Interim Dean of that Faculty.  These two appointments become effective from Monday, 18th January, 2021 and I do look to your cooperation

with and support of our two leaders.  These positions would be formally advertised during the course of this semester.

Finally, I wish to advise that a newly reconstituted Board of Trustees is in place and we expect to convene very soon.  I will of course continue to keep you informed on developments at our University.   Once more, best wishes to all for 2021 and let’s hope that this New Year relieves us of the stresses and strains we faced in 2020 as an institution and as individuals.

President Clement Sankat

January 14, 2021