Changes ahead for current, former college chiefs

 

Roy Bodden, president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, has renewed his contract, while the president of the International College of the Cayman Islands, Tasha Ebanks Garcia, has dropped hers, joining the Ministry of Education. 

As Mr. Bodden celebrates the September start of UCCI’s ambitious four-year nursing program, he hopes to remain at the helm until the first class graduates in 2016. 

Meantime, Ms Ebanks Garcia moves to the ministry as deputy chief officer for employment, training and tertiary education strategy. As ICCI chief, she marks the end of one year at the school, after joining in July 2012. She is likely to be replaced in the short term by Raymond Hayes, former ICCI board chairman, until a full-time replacement is found. 

“I fully expect that I will meet with challenges,” she said, “that I will experience resistance; that I will have tough days. I also know that as long as my perspective is on finding solutions, I will overcome whatever challenge is thrown in my direction.” 

Mr. Bodden, who was appointed by the UCCI board* to the university’s top slot in October 2009 after the debacle involving the former president, Hassan Syed, said the board had asked him to stay. “They said it is my option as to how long I want,” Mr. Bodden said. 

Four years in the planning, the college’s nursing program is administered by the Nursing Council of Jamaica. Mr. Bodden explicitly rejected any idea that the program was a sort of “feeder” course for Dr. Devi Shetty’s Health City development, saying it is “not affiliated with Dr. Shetty,” but is a joint venture with UCCI, the Health Services Authority, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. 

“The nurses are trained by the Nursing Council of Jamaica. We give them a bachelor of science and nursing, and the council gives them their RN [registered nurse]. That allows them to practice regionally and with the standards they learn, it is easy to pass and work anywhere in the world,” Mr. Bodden said. 

“Some say that I should remain until the first cohort of nurses graduates,” he said of retirement, “and since that was my idea, it seems natural. I find that attractive. It would make a good exit.” 

Ms Ebanks Garcia said the offer from the ministry gave her the opportunity “to be of service and to be a facilitator of change.” 

“When I was offered the position of president at ICCI, I was elated because it represented an opportunity for me to engage in meaningful work in a field that I am passionate about,” she said. 

At the same time, she added, “the offer to join the civil service was bittersweet because, while it represented an amazing opportunity, it also represented the end of my time at ICCI. The transition was hard.” 

Mr. Bodden recently launched a two-year, associate degree program, training students in engineering and technology, specifically for electricians and construction contractors, and offering the chance to go to school in the U.S. 

”We have an agreement with the New England Institute of Technology where you can get degree in another two years. We have good equipment here, but theirs is even a notch above ours. 

“Even our nurses can go up there for a semester in their third year,” he said. 

The Rhode Island school offers associate degrees in electronic engineering, building technology and a series of medical programs, including nursing, occupational and physical therapy, and surgical technology. 

Ms Ebanks Garcia’s new job – she started Sept. 2 – offers the chance “to make a substantial contribution to the country,” which, she acknowledges, faces considerable challenges. 

“My background professionally started out in human resources and business development and then was diverted into the field of psychology, which opened up opportunities for me to serve as an instructor in higher education,” she said. 

She worked with the Wellness Centre as a facilitator and administrator for the Ministry of Education’s Passport2Success program, part of her new responsibilities, and the program brought her into contact with former Minister for Education Rolston Anglin. 

“It is almost as though my life’s work and experiences … have led to this place in time where I am equipped with the requisite skills to execute the responsibilities … [of] my new role,” she said. 

“My responsibilities in the ministry directly correlate to [my] professional experiences …,” she said, citing a portfolio that includes the National Workforce Development Agency, the Scholarship Secretariat, the Passport2Success and other training programs, and tertiary-education strategy. 

ICCI’s Board Chairperson April Cummings said the college will seek a replacement for Ms Ebanks Garcia almost immediately, although the process will likely take a couple of months. 

She said the college hopes to persuade former board chairman Mr. Hayes to serve as interim president while a search is launched locally and overseas. 

“He [Mr. Hayes] has all the qualifications and served next to her [Ms Ebanks Garcia] for 18 months, so he understands while we look. We are putting feelers out now and will be putting out an ad soon,” Ms Cummings said. 

She said the college hopes to have someone on board within the next two to three months. “It’s really important we find the right mix,” she said. 

* This story has been amended to reflect that Mr. Bodden was appointed in 2009 by the UCCI board.

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