BREAKING NEWS >>> STATEMENT OF COLLEGE COUNCIL CHAIRMAN – MR. ALFRED SEARS
After a long, transparent, competitive and rigorous search process conducted by a Council-appointed Advisory Search Committee (ASC), the Council of The College of The Bahamas at a special called meeting on June 11th considered the assessment conducted by the ASC of four shortlisted candidates for the position of President of The College of The Bahamas. At the end of its deliberations, Dr. Rodney Smith was chosen to be the candidate that Council would present to the Minister of Education, in accordance with Section 6 of the College of The Bahamas Act, for the Minister’s approval. On June 12th Council informed the Minister of its determination and was then informed by the Minister that the matter of the approval of Dr. Smith as President of COB would be made the subject of a decision by the Cabinet of the Government of The Bahamas. The subsequent media coverage of this matter and the length of time it has taken to bring this matter to a conclusion, now compels Council to make this statement in the interest of providing faculty, staff, senior administrators and students with an update regarding the search for a President of COB.
Council would first like it to be known that Council’s choice of Dr. Rodney Smith as its preferred candidate is in keeping with the assessment conducted by the ASC of the four shortlisted candidates. In its assessment of Dr. Rodney Smith, the ASC noted that Dr. Smith had extensive leadership experience, impressive credentials, and an in-depth knowledge of the institutional mechanisms needed to ensure peak performance levels in all areas of the operation of an academic institution. Indeed, across all of the assessment tools used by the ASC to evaluate the candidates, Dr. Smith consistently scored the highest. The ASC also found that Dr. Smith was the candidate best able to articulate the vision of the Council and the mandate of the Government for leading the College through the process of becoming recognized as a university in 2015.
Secondly, Council wishes to affirm the statement recently released by the ASC that the Search process was open, fair, transparent, and respectful of stakeholder interests. Indeed, as emphasized by the ASC in its recent press statement, the public was given opportunities to participate in the search process, question the shortlisted candidates and provide feedback to the ASC on each of the candidates. We therefore agree with the ASC that the search process was sufficiently open and subject to public scrutiny. In this regard, some commentators in the press have criticized the ASC for not revealing to the public its assessment of all the shortlisted candidates and information about the candidates related to that assessment (references, other job offers, etc.). This criticism ignores the importance of confidentiality being maintained during a search process. Council believes the ASC, in the conduct of the search process, struck the appropriate balance between the public’s participatory interests and the need to protect the privacy-confidentiality interests of each candidate.
For both the ASC and Council, the only question mark that hung over Dr. Smith’s candidacy for President of the College was the circumstances that led Dr. Smith to leave the College in 2005 after having served as its President for approximately a year. Notwithstanding this concern, ASC members and Council members were of the view that Dr. Smith was, undoubtedly, the best candidate for the position of President of COB. In reaching this position, the ASC and Council considered that Dr. Smith deserved a second chance because he had assumed responsibility for his actions that led to his resignation, had voluntarily resigned because of the act of plagiarism attributed to him, had suffered public humiliation, and had – in his various interview-encounters with ASC and Council members – shown sufficient contrition over the circumstances that led to his resignation from the College in 2005. Moreover, as part of the formulation of its position regarding Dr. Smith’s candidacy, Council Members considered it a highly relevant factor that, notwithstanding the price and public humiliation experienced by Dr. Smith over the affair, Dr. Smith had been able to weather the storm and excel within the academic arena in the United States. There was no evidence to suggest that the events that led to Dr. Smith’s departure from the College was consistent with a repeating pattern of events in the life of Dr. Smith, which might suggest a character defect. This consideration also played a pivotal role in relation to the decision reached by the College Council.
Finally, Council wishes to reaffirm that its position, vis-à-vis Dr. Smith, in no way interrogates or invalidates any previous decision of the Council regarding Dr. Smith’s tenure as President of COB, and, in this regard, Council is fully aware of its obligations to protect the past and present degree of autonomy reposed in the Council of The College of The Bahamas for the general direction and control of the institution.
In all the circumstances, the Council has used its best judgment to promote the interest of the institution. Upon receipt of the Minister’s reply and the completion of all requisite negotiations, the Council will keep the faculty, staff, administrators, staff and students apprised of the progress of this matter.