'Fired' Legon V-C Appeals For Review
PROF Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere,Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, who has been asked to proceed on leave, is to return no more as Vice-Chancellor.
His term of office is to have expired on September 30, 2006, but the University Council has asked him to proceed on leave with effect from June 1, 2005 and has asked him to take his sabbatical leave also. This means that Prof Asenso-Okyere will not be back at post before his term expires.
The Professor has, however, asked the council to review its decision, which he described as “far-reaching”.
The council's directive was given after deliberation on the Mfodwo Committee report on examination malpractices and the Vice-Chancellor's response to the lapses unearthed by the committee.
The Council intimated that at the appropriate time, it would initiate a process to search for a new Vice-Chancellor and further directed that in the absence of Prof Asenso-Okyere, the acting Pro Vice-Chancellor, Prof C. N. B. Tagoe, should act as Vice-Chancellor.
A letter addressed to Prof Asenso-Otchere dated May 6, 2005, and signed by the Chairman of the University Council, Mr Ishmael Yamson, stated that “after a thorough review and assessment of the issues involved, Council has concluded that as the academic and administrative head of the university, you are answerable for all the weaknesses and lapses identified by the Mfodwo Committee.
“After taking all these issues into consideration, Council is of the view that in order that the disciplinary processes now at play may be seen by all concerned to be transparent and impartial, it is both desirable and necessary for the Vice-Chancellor to step aside,” the letter added.
Prof Asenso-Okyere responded with a 20-point petition dated May 9, 2005, asking the University Council to review its decision because the decentralised nature of decision-making in the university was such that there might be some lapses that he might not know of until they were brought to his attention.
“I implore Council to let me know any direct malfeasance and/or neglect of responsibility that was brought to my attention that I did not act on,” the petition stated inter alia.
“I would like to reiterate that Council should have given me the opportunity to defend some of the conclusions it arrived at during the discussions at the April 25, 2005 and May 5, 2005 meetings before taking the far-reaching decisions of May 5, 2005,” he submitted.
The University Council, in its letter to the Vice-Chancellor, said it was dissatisfied with his overall performance as Vice-Chancellor, especially as he failed to disclose in his periodic reports to Council the growing institutional and governance weaknesses in the university.
“Council will like to place on record its full appreciation of the positive contributions you have made to the infrastructure expansion of the university since assuming the office of Vice-Chancellor,” it, however, pointed out.
The letter said Council noted the fact of the Mfodwo Committee's identification of the Vice-Chancellor's son as the chief culprit in the examination malpractices and his son's free admission of his role in the leakage of examination questions.
It also noted with disappointment that nowhere in the Vice-Chancellor's written reaction to the Mfodwo Committee's report did he address the issue of his son's involvement in the malpractices and its implication for his role as the chief disciplinary officer of the university.
It further noted with regret that to date, the Vice-Chancellor had not offered to take full responsibility for all that had occurred and the consequent damage to the reputation and integrity of the university.
The letter asked Prof Asenso-Okyere to inform the university community by May 9, 2005, his decision to proceed on leave with effect from June 1, 2005, adding that “this leave shall be made up of all outstanding vacation leave, including leave earned prior to your appointment as Vice-Chancellor plus sabbatical leave entitlement”.
This implies that Prof Asenso-Okyere will not return to post before the expiration of his term in office on September 30, 2006, a condition that appears to be generating some controversy among the university community.
In his petition, Prof Asenso-Okyere said he was aware that under the Council, the Vice-Chancellor was the academic and administrative head and chief disciplinarian of the university and, therefore, he could not escape blame for the examination malpractices that were unearthed by the Mfodwo Committee.
He, however, explained that given the size of the university, various officers undertook many functions in trust for the Vice-Chancellor and noted that there could be some lapses he might not be aware of until they were brought to his attention.