Saving academic norms in Wa Technical University

Wa Technical University

Saving academic norms in Wa Technical University Collegiality and seniority are long-held norms in higher education.

Consequently, Baporikar (2015) observes that, if the goal is to make collegiality a reality in an academic institution, then nurturing collegiality and seniority is perfect for academic administrators and faculty alike, because everyone benefits when civility reigns, and everyone suffers when it does not. Nonetheless, collegial environments do not just happen but must be created and cultivated in order to thrive. Someone must be the champion dedicated to developing and maintaining an institutional culture that is enthusiastic, collaborative and intellectual. Collegiality is ultimately everyone’s job, but it takes a leader to ensure that civility, and not the reverse, reigns in an academic institution.

Regrettably, incivility and lack of collegiality are on the rise in Wa Polytechnic. This phenomenon has led to disputes and tension at one end of the spectrum to violence at the other. The latest of these was the axing of the suspended Rector from office by all categories of staff in the Polytechnic.
Wa Polytechnic has been in turmoil since 2012 and always in the news for the wrong reasons; court case after court case has not only stalled the development of the Polytechnic but also depleted the meagre internally generated funds as a result of the payment of legal fees and other court related charges.
Because of this checkered history of the Polytechnic, one would think bygones would be bygones and staff, especially faculty, rally around Management of the Polytechnic for the speedy development of the Polytechnic, particularly at this time that all Polytechnics in Ghana have been converted into Technical Universities, with the exception of Wa and Bolgatanga Polytechnics. However, this cannot be said to be the case with the current happenings in the Polytechnic, where the Polytechnic Statutes are grossly violated or misinterpreted to favour some faculty in terms of appointments to the detriment of others.
These and many others have prompted this write-up. However, the write-up will focus on the latest and major infraction on the Statutes of the Polytechnic: the election of the Dean of the Business School.
Many faculty members were taken aback, when a notice of the Business School Deanship election was signed by the Polytechnic Registrar and secretly released to only Heads of Departments in the Business School on Friday, 08 November 2019, indicating that the Deanship Position in the Business School was up for grasp and that interested and qualified faculty could apply by the close of Tuesday, 12 November 2019. The same notice also indicated that the election was to be held on 13 November 2019. However, there was a second notice
signed by the Registrar and this time around posted on the notice board on 13 November 2019, indicating that the Deanship election for the Business School was to be held on Thursday, 14 November 2019. The candidates for the contest were Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed (A Senior Lecturer Non-PhD and Acting Vice-Rector) and Prof. Baba Insah (Associate Professor of Economics). The election indeed was held on 14 November 2019 and Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed gained seven votes whereas, Prof. Baba Insah got three votes. The processes and organization of the Deanship election for the Business School beacons the following questions: 1. Why was the notice on the application for the Deanship position circulated to only Heads of Departments in the Business School? 2. How were interested faculty supposed to know and apply for the Deanship position, since the notification was given to only Heads of Departments in the Business School? 3. Why three (3) days notification for application for the Deanship position? 4. Which committee vetted and approved the applications for the Deanship Position in the Business School? 5. Why was the voting date changed from Wednesday, 13 November 2019 to Thursday, 14 November 2019? From the preceding, it is evident that there was a sinister conspiracy to get Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed re-elected as the Dean for the Business School because he was the Acting Vice- Rector and was privy to the vacancy and the processes that led to the conduct of the Deanship election. The process was therefore shambolic and designed to offer an unfair advantage to Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed. This was therefore the case of a blind man requesting for a stone- throwing contest when he was already armed with a stone in hand. Never was it in the history of Wa Polytechnic that the notice for application for a Deanship position was circulated to only Heads of Departments and prospective applicants given only three days to submit their applications. Again, the convention of giving office bearers a one month notice on the expiry of their tenure was ignored in this clandestine agenda to favour Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed in this Deanship election. Furthermore, the qualification and procedures for the election of Deans in Wa Polytechnic are clearly stated in the Polytechnic Statutes in Schedule I on pages 43 – 44. Schedule I (a) states that:
“The Dean shall be elected from among the Heads of Departments and Principal Lecturers or Associate Professors who are not Heads of Departments by a majority vote of all members of the School. In the event of there being no one of the rank of Principal or Associate Professor or above, the next lower rank may be considered”. Notwithstanding my limitations in Law, I am of the view that there is no ambiguity regarding Schedule I (a) to have warranted the acceptance and approval of the application of Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed, a Senior Lecturer Non-PhD, to contest with Prof. Baba Insah, the only Associate Professor in the Polytechnic for the Deanship Position. Thus, the conduct of the Deanship election in the Business School with Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed as a candidate has grossly violated the Polytechnic Statutes on Deanship election and as such, the election was illegitimate and should be regarded as null and void. Nay, I say that it is an open secret that the support for Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed to be the Dean for the Business School is to enable the illegal perpetuation of Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed’s appointment as Acting Vice-Rector. Upon the suspension of Prof. Marfo as Rector of the Polytechnic and the expiry of the tenure of the then Acting Vice-Rector, Dr. Baba Insah, the Polytechnic Council appointed Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed as Acting Vice-Rector, probably, based on Statute 7 (d), which states that: “In the event of temporary absence of both the Principal and Vice-Principal from campus or during vacation in both offices, the most Senior Dean as determined by academic standing and/or length of service as Dean shall act”. However, at the time that Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed was appointed as the Acting Vice-Rector, Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed was NOT the most Senior Dean as determined by academic standing, as there were other Deans who were at the rank of Senior Lecturer PhD, whereas, Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed was and is still at the rank of Senior Lecturer Non-PhD. If the National Accreditation Board and National Council for Tertiary Education guidelines on the qualification to teach in tertiary institutions in Ghana stipulate that the minimum qualification for a Lecturer Position is a PhD and the qualification for Heads of Departments is a Senior Lecturer PhD, why did the Polytechnic Governing Council appoint a Senior Lecturer Non-PhD to the position of Acting Vice-Rector when there were and indeed are a number of faculty of the rank of Senior Lecturer PhD?
The illegitimate appointment of Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed as Acting Vice-Rector could have been averted, if more credence was given to Statutes 7 (c), which deals with the permanent absence of the Vice-Rector; it states that: “……In the event of any casual vacancy of the office of the Vice-Principal occurring by resignation, incapacity or death or any other cause, the Chairman of Council shall appoint (1) Dean or Principal Lecturer or Associate Professor of the Polytechnic to act as Vice-Principal until Council is able to make a formal appointment.” I admit that at the time of the appointment of Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed as Acting Vice-Rector, there was no faculty of the rank of Principal Lecturer or Associate Professor, nonetheless, Mr. Iddrisu N. Mohammed, was not the next lower ranked faculty, as there were Deans and faculty of the rank of Senior Lecturer PhD. The gross violation or deliberate misinterpretation of the Polytechnic Statutes and other occurrences have led to disquiet among many administrators and faculty, as some have been systematically preyed upon by these actions, especially the more vulnerable ones, leaving them feeling humiliated, belittled, and demoralized. The Polytechnic environment is currently poisoned, enthusiasm for work has given way to anxiety, resentment, and a longing to get out. The Polytechnic couldn’t have  been converted into a Technical University with the current state of affairs. The Statutes MUST be respected to save academic norms in the Technical University. To the beneficiaries of the Statutes violations, I admonish them with the Dagara saying: when you see an orphan’s calabash over-flowing with porridge, know that a puppy has licked the porridge.

Reference

Baporikar, N. (2015) ‘Collegiality as a strategy for excellence in academia’, International Journal of Strategic Change Management, 6(1), 59–72. doi: 10.1504/IJSCM.2015.069522. By:
Ing. Dr. Patrick Aaniamenga Bowan, PhD, PE-GhIE
(Senior Lecturer, Department of Civil Engineering, Wa Polytechnic)
P.A.BOWAN@wapoly.edu.gh / bowanaania@gmail.com
Columnist: Ing. Dr. Patrick Aaniamenga Bowan, PhD, PE-GhIE

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