31 August 2005
Chairman of the Council of the College of The Bahamas Franklyn Wilson yesterday said the actions of former C.O.B. President Dr. Rodney Smith a day earlier were “shocking” and unbecoming of someone who has led such an important institution.
But Mr. Wilson declined to speak directly to the content of Dr. Smith’s statement in which he alleges that the Council forced him to resign even though it had already been proven that his use of material in a speech without proper attribution was not a violation of intellectual property rights.
Dr. Smith also showed up at the College on Monday to tell his side of the story. But Mr. Wilson said what he did was out of line.
"I regard it as inappropriate, unfortunate, shocking, sad, whatever one wants to call it, that Dr. Smith saw fit to go about this matter in the way he did without the courtesy of letting the acting president of the institution, the secretary to the council, the chairman, or somebody know what was happening," he said.
"I just do not think that this is appropriate conduct for someone who has been the president of the College of The Bahamas."
Dr. Smith indicated in his statement that the Council did not show him support during the firestorm that surrounded the speech he gave at the college’s Honours Convocation in May.
He also intimated that Mr. Wilson went back on his word after implying that he was going to give him a copy of a report that had been completed by a special panel appointed to look into the matter and make recommendations for the way forward.
Mr. Wilson responded to this saying, "If it was his intention to accuse me of having lied I deny that and the truth is at all times I was very candid with him. He did not say I lied to him, but this thing that I implied [that I would give it to him], I’d prefer if he were more precise in his choice of words [since] he’s such a scholar."
He said when he looks at the substance of what Dr. Smith had to say beyond his claims about the advisory panel’s reports, the only thing he could add is, "Dr. Rodney Smith has my prayers because when you read that very carefully I think, to me, there is evidence of the value of prayer."
Mr. Wilson refused to confirm whether the Council had asked Dr. Smith to resign. He said the Council will first address this whole matter before it makes a formal statement in response to Dr. Smith.
"There is a whole lot of things [in that statement and] since he has chosen to go on the record, Council has an obligation to correct the record and we will do that," he said. "I don’t wish to characterize [his statement] in any particularly way. All I would wish to say is that it is not a balanced record of the circumstances."
The Council Chairman said he doubted the statement would negatively impact the college community.
He again assured Bahamians that the College of The Bahamas is not void of leadership.
"There are a lot of good things happening and it’s unfortunate that these personality things keep overshadowing that. I also draw to the public’s attention the fact that Dr. Smith in his letter to the college community upon his resignation pointed to the fact that the College of The Bahamas has a plan," Mr. Wilson said.
"We are not without a plan; we are not adrift. I strongly believe that if you take plan and passion which we definitely have, those two things would put you a long way on the road to progress."
In his statement, Dr. Smith informed that the Council had agreed to pay him $296,000 to buy out his contract.
Mr. Wilson confirmed that Dr. Smith has been paid all of the money already.
Dr. Smith said that he had given all of the facts on the whole matter involving his resignation.
"Others might refute what I say, but I know beyond any doubt that this is precisely what happened," he said.
The former college president also questioned whether he landed in a "political quagmire" and became just another victim.
Asked whether the Council regretted hiring Dr. Smith in the first place, Mr. Wilson said it did not because he was the right man for the job when he was chosen.
Mr. Wilson was also asked what Dr. Smith’s legacy has been as college president.
"It was different 24 hours ago than it is today," he said yesterday morning. "The actions of [Monday] have coloured it, but the fact is that yes, he came and brought some energy. He brought some enthusiasm. He reflected the fact that he had the experience and that showed in terms of the way in which we were able to get some projects moving.
"In the long run, I believe he showed others another way that the job can be done and I think that whoever succeeds him would likely learn from that."