Some members of UB’s board decry ‘unnecessary crisis’ caused by Smith revelation

The revelation that University of The Bahamas (UB) President Dr. Rodney Smith is a finalist for president at another university has caused an “unnecessary crisis”, according to two members of UB’s Board of Trustees.

It recently surfaced that Smith is one of three people being considered for the position of president of West Virginia State University (WVSU).

On Wednesday, in a letter, Margo Birch-Blackwell and Jeannie Gibson, the faculty and staff representatives on the board, wrote, “We all agree that the president has every right to seek new opportunities and we are sure you wish him well. We also know that in his role as president and CEO and a board member, he has a fiduciary responsibility to deal forthrightly and respectfully with the board and the institution.

“It may be that select trustees were informed of the president’s pursuits; we, however, like many of you, learnt of it through social media.

“Why this would be done this way, we do not know. It has unfortunately caused an unnecessary crisis for the institution at a critical time for us, the nation and the global community.”

They noted that there are “many layers to this present situation”.

“Now here we are — in the aftermath of Dorian and the destruction of our UB North Campus, in the midst of a pandemic and unprecedented economic uncertainty — having to wonder about the way forward amid whirlwind posts and news stories,” they wrote.

“It is indeed very disconcerting.”

The board members added, “We do know, though, that this is not the end; it is just the beginning of another chapter in our institution’s deep rich history. We will continue to use our collective skills and talents to ensure the viability of our institution because the nation needs UB.”

In a statement released on Monday, UB acknowledged that Smith had started the process of seeking employment elsewhere, noting that he may “possibly” leave the university before his contract expires in August 2022.

It noted that Smith has decided to not extend his contract.

“Accordingly, the board of trustees will establish and convene a Presidential Search Committee to lead the process of selecting a president to succeed Dr. Smith,” UB said.

The university said Smith has given assurance that he remains committed to fulfilling his mandate at UB and “to ensuring a smooth transition in leadership when the time comes”.

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