He’s young, he’s enthusiastic, and he’s committed: there’s a new dean in town, and it looks like that spells good news for the International College of the Cayman Islands.
If Scott Cummings’ surname sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because he is the grandson of ICCI’s founding committee chief Dr. John Hugh Cummings, late husband of current ICCI President Elsa Cummings.
Having officially taken up his new role as ICCI’s chief administrator on 1 June, Mr. Cummings, a former corporate lawyer with a J.D. from the University of Texas, has signed on to lead ICCI through a new chapter of its existence.
Taking on his new role in part as a family legacy exercise (his father, John Hugh Cummings, Jr. has sat on the board since 2000) and in part because it dovetailed perfectly with the kind of service-oriented career move he was seeking, Mr. Cummings and his wife turned down a posting with the Peace Corps when the opportunity to join ICCI came up.
‘Even though it’s only been a few months since we arrived from Fort Worth, Texas, we’ve felt extremely welcome and we already can tell this has been the right decision,’ says Mr. Cummings.
‘I’m extremely honoured to have been selected for this position, especially in light of ICCI’s history of producing such prominent alumni as Health Minister Anthony Eden, Chief Secretary George McCarthy, MLA Lucille Seymour and former MLA Heather Bodden,’ says Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Cumming’s objective as the school’s first full-time dean is simple: get ICCI back on track now that it’s largely recovered from Ivan.
The college was opened in 1970 on land donated by James M Bodden by a group of Caymanian and American Quakers and educators who were looking to foster higher education in the Cayman Islands. But despite its historic position as Cayman’s first tertiary degree-granting institution, ICCI’s profile has been low in recent years.
Down to 125 students from a pre-Ivan high of approximately 400, the college’s recent slump can in part be attributed to Ivan’s destruction of the modest Newlands campus.
Thanks to a core of dedicated students, who are soon to be honoured with a commemorative plaque, the college soldiered through, even temporarily relocating to St. Ignatius School.
The effort seems to have been worth it, and things are turning around.
Classrooms and student facilities are up and running. Two of the campus buildings are freshly rebuilt, and the capital campaign for renovations on the third, which formerly housed ICCI’s extensive library, has wound up successfully.
Sadly, nearly 98 per cent of the library’s physical stacks were wiped out by the hurricane, a devastating academic and historical blow not only for the school but for the Cayman Islands.
But there’s hope. ICCI is now wired for wi-fi, so students with laptops can access online resources anywhere on campus, including the Library and Information Resources Network, a virtual library of electronic information resources.
There’s also a computer lab that provides ICT facilities.
Much needed staff support is also going to make a difference. With his arrival, Mr. Cummings will alleviate much of the pressure on the President and other staff who were tending to the college’s administration part-time, allowing them to refocus their attention on academics and business operations.
‘I really think my being here will allow us to put a renewed focus on student services as well,’ Mr. Cummings says.
He’s not the only new Cummings on campus. Mr. Cummings’ wife Kathleen has taken on the position of the school’s first full-time registrar, while Elsa Cummings’ daughter, April, will shortly be taking on the role of Director of Operations/Marketing.
While the school’s growth is in stark contrast to its bourgeoning higher education counterpart, the University College of the Cayman Islands, Mr. Cummings sees a synergy between what’s on offer at the two colleges that has the potential to take off.
‘There is certainly room for two, if not more, higher learning institutions in Cayman,’ says Mr. Cummings.
‘It is time to move past the acrimony that may have existed between these two institutions in the past, as we can benefit from each other for the good of Cayman in providing quality tertiary education.’
As an independent college ICCI relies on tuition and fees to fund its operations, as well as a small amount of government funding, while UCCI is slated to receive $3.8-million from the Cayman government this fiscal year.
That’s certainly a big challenge that ICCI will continue to be faced with, although Mr. Cummings sees partnership with a variety of local institutions, businesses and industry associations as a possible answer.
For example, the college offered courses in insurance in the past, which could be revived in collaboration with the local insurance industry association to help serve Cayman’s rapidly growing captives sector.
There’s another major difference in the colleges. UCCI’s focus is very much on undergraduate certification and vocational training, in particular for younger students.
ICCI, now operating solely as an evening school, is geared toward working adults who are seeking to advance in the workplace by improving their academic credentials, but who cannot afford to leave their jobs.
The ‘earn a degree while you work’ concept works for both students and employers: Mr. Cummings says a majority of the college’s students are funded by their employers who would like them to improve both their skills and their job prospects.
A lot of students are also on some sort of scholarship, and Mr. Cummings remarked that students should be aware government scholarships apply to ICCI.
‘I don’t believe in an ivory tower mentality – what you learn in the classroom should translate into what you do in life, be it business, tourism, or finance,’ says Mr. Cummings.
‘And investing in their employees’ education sets a good precedent for employers who encourage loyalty from their staff when they show their commitment,’ he said.
By taking Associates of Science degrees in Business, General Studies and Office Administration, and Bachelors of Science degrees in Business Administration, Office Administration, Community Services and Liberal Studies, ICCI students can focus on such areas as accounting, banking, and hotel and tourism management, all sectors in high demand locally.
Thanks to ICCI’s quarter-based academic calendar, students can complete an Associates degree in a year and a half, and a Bachelor’s in just three.
Graduate degrees are also on offer. The MSc. in Management is offered with either a human resources or education concentration. ICCI also offers Cayman’s only on-Island full MBA degree program which, at a total cost of around $10,000 is not only affordable but can also be completed in a year and a half.
All of ICCI’s degrees are accredited with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which means that graduates have an option to use them towards further study in the future.
‘Meeting the accreditations standards means that we must constantly monitor and upgrade our curriculum to offer a program that is of a high standard,’ says Mr. Cummings.
‘Dr. Cummings has referred to this time as the time for the 21st Century pioneers for ICCI, and we ready to take on that challenge.’