COB President Hospitalized
By Candia Dames
22nd July 2005
The Council of The College of The Bahamas has decided against releasing the recommendations of a special panel appointed to review the plagiarism controversy involving COB President Dr. Rodney Smith because the president has been hospitalized, Council Chairman Franklyn Wilson said yesterday.
But College officials were quiet on the circumstances surrounding the hospitalization of the president, who turned 53 one week ago.
COB Vice President Dr. Pandora Johnson told The Bahama Journal late in the afternoon that any statement from the College would have to come through the public relationís office, but no official there was available.
Mr. Wilson, however, informed that Dr. Smith is now in hospital in Jacksonville, Fla.
"He spent the last several days at hospital here in Nassau," he said. "He has now been transferred to a hospital in north Florida. Of course weíre praying for his speedy recovery. The good news is as far as we can tell - itís not life threatening, but anytime oneís in the hospital thatís a matter for concern."
Asked how Dr. Smithís hospitalization would impact the release of the report by the special panel appointed by the Council, Mr. Wilson said, "It means that all matters relevant to those things are suspended. Our total thoughts and prayers are with the president at a personal level and we have no other aspect of this under consideration at this moment."
He confirmed that the Council received the panelís report over the weekend and stressed that it would be inappropriate to even give a hint of what the committee has recommended.
Amid calls for Dr. Smith to resign as president, Mr. Wilson announced on June 20 that a special panel had been appointed to help chart the way forward.
The panel members included Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez; Bahamas Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Paulette Bethel; Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, Professor Rex Nettleford; President-elect of John Carroll University of Cleveland, Ohio and former Vice Provost of the University of San Francisco, Father Robert Niehoff; and Retired Justice Joseph Strachan.
Last month, Dr. Smith said at a press conference that he made a mistake when he failed to provide attribution for a portion of his Honours Convocation speech that were the words of his friend, New York University President John Sexton.
But what followed were strong calls for him to step down, although some of the faculty and staff members of the College soon called a rally to voice their support for Dr. Smith.
One faculty member reiterated yesterday that Dr. Smith has done great things for the College since he was appointed a year ago.
The main campus in Oakes Field continues to undergo a marked physical transformation. Dr. Smith has said that the aim is to transform COB into the University of The Bahamas by 2007.
But if detractors have their way, he would no longer be a part of the kind of change he has already helped to shape.
In announcing the panel last month, Mr. Wilson had said, "It would be irresponsible to take any action without due examination and reflection.
"However, the issue of plagiarism is a serious one. Intellectual property is one of the most important products of an educational institution and the foundation of its evolution and growth. Breaching the associated protocols brings into question all that the institution has contributed to this society, all that it stands for and all it must represent and contribute in the future.
"One thing has been clear almost from the beginning: Dr. Smith has already acknowledged to the College community and the wider public that he has breached the protocols of intellectual property."
The Council Chairman said yesterday that he has informed the College community of the latest development as it relates to Dr. Smith.