SUAKOKO, Bong – Cuttington University’s president, Herman Browne, has promised a new charter in administering the affairs of the university, where the faculty and students will be part of decision-making processes. He made the statements during a reinstatement ceremony on August 31.
Cuttington’s Board of Trustees had announced on August 17 that Browne would return to head the institution, following his indefinite suspension in May this year. His suspension had been triggered by student and faculty protests over limited electricity supply, delay in salary payment, and poor living conditions on campus, among others.
During the ceremony on Friday at the university’s Suakoko campus, Browne acknowledged that he had not clearly communicated the rationale of some of the decisions and stances he took as administrator. He said this may have contributed to the disenchantment among students and faculty members.
“In this respect, that as much as it is possible with as many persons as necessary, we will take time [to communicate] how decisions are made,” Browne said. “We will talk and over talk and extend the range and the scope of our consultations.”
The secretary of the Board of Trustees, Benoni Urey, assured the students and faculty that the board is concerned about their issues, but noted that it will require time and money to effectively address the concerns.
Urey said Cuttington currently faces financial challenges in immediately addressing the concerns of the students and faculty.
“We are pleading with you all to remain on Cuttington, go to school; the instructors will stay on campus and let’s teach our children. We are seeing all your complaints, and we are working on it,” Urey told the crowd.
He said the board had mandated Browne to be more consultative and include everyone in decision-making processes that affect the school.
Bong’s superintendent, Esther Walker, hailed the students, faculty, and staff of Cuttington for “exercising maturity” throughout the crisis.
She appealed to the students and the faculty to be patient and collaborate with the administration in solving the problems at Cuttington.
“All of the demands you people made are in place. But if we stand here and lie to you and say in one hour we will solve them, that is a lie. Little by little, we will get there,” Walker said.
She noted that President George Weah was concerned about the unfoldings at Cuttington, considering the university’s long outstanding role in educating Liberians.
Browne apologized to the faculty and students for the earlier commotions on the campus. He called on everyone to turn a new page, characterized by mutual respect and understanding. The reinstated president also thanked members of the board for taking time off their busy schedules to help resolve the stalemate at the school.
“Let me commit to you that I have absolutely no intention to discipline or fire any faculty member for what has happened,” Browne said.
However, for all Browne’s apologies, it was notable that the president of the Cuttington University Faculty Association, Lepolu Torlon, did not attend the program.
In an interview with Torlon on Monday morning, he said the Cuttington University Faculty Association has vowed not to work with Browne. Torlon told The Bush Chicken that the board had not yet officially communicated with members of the faculty association information about Browne’s reinstatement.
“As far as CUFA is concerned, Browne is still suspended,” Torlon said. “We will not return to the classroom once Browne remains at the helm of power at Cuttington.
Torlon said by reinstating Browne without a clear roadmap for addressing the issues raised by the faculty, the board was not taking the proper measures to resolve the crisis.
One of the faculty’s demands was that Browne be audited for the period he served and that the findings be made public.
Urey, the board secretary, said the board has hired an auditing firm to conduct an audit. However, he said the audit is expected to be completed in four months.
Featured photo by Moses Bailey