Reappointing Rodney Smith: A Bad Signal
The decision to reappoint former embattled College of The Bahamas (COB) President Dr. Rodney Smith to the top post of the future University of The Bahamas will “come back to haunt the college”, according to Dr. Roger Brown, the former COB registrar recently honored by the institution for his decades-long service.
We agree with Brown that the decision by the Cabinet of The Bahamas to accept the recommendation of the Presidential Advisory Search Committee was a bad signal.
While many have used the “second chances” argument to support his return as president, there is a more important consideration, and that is whether the college would be able to effectively implement its plagiarism policy against students, given that its president once committed this cardinal sin in academia.
“I think it was the wrong decision, and I think it is going to come back and haunt the college,” said Brown, who served as registrar from 1976 to 1995, and was at times acting principal.
“I had to sign many letters expelling students for committing plagiarism and I, for the life of me, can’t see how we can now say that it’s okay. It’s not too bad. I wonder what the new president and the council and faculty will say the first time there is a complaint from a faculty member that a student has committed plagiarism under this new regime? But we’ll have to wait to see.”
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald has said there was widespread support for the reappointment of Rodney Smith, who resigned from the college in 2005 after a special panel found that he was guilty of plagiarism.
Speaking of the decision-makers who selected Smith, Brown said, “I don’t know whether they were actually thinking about the institution as such and its future and the students of the institution”.
He added: “When the minister said that he had discussed the matter with universities abroad, I question which ones he would have discussed the matter with.
“I might be mistaken, but I don’t think there would be anybody at the University of the West Indies who would have indicated to him that it was good or it was OK.
“I’m just concerned about the future of the institution.”
The Nassau Guardian