ICCI’s president: Supporting his message, supporting his school

It’s rare when someone arrives in the Cayman Islands and immediately starts telling people things they need, but don’t want, to hear. It’s rarer still when someone backs up what he says on the soapbox by putting his personal cash on the table.

But that’s how we would characterize David Marshall’s five-month tenure as president of the International College of the Cayman Islands. Not only has he been unafraid to speak out candidly (and wisely), but he’s letting his own money do some talking as well, contributing $10,000 to kick off ICCI’s upcoming fundraising campaign.

ICCI’s Board of Directors has matched Dr. Marshall’s donation, meaning the school is well on its way to its overall goal of $100,000.

The campaign officially launches Aug. 17 at a meeting with ICCI alumni, the logical primary target of fundraising efforts, because of their personal ties to the university and professional benefits they have gained from the school. As Dr. Marshall put it, “It is now time for them to reach back and provide opportunities for current students through donations to improve teaching and learning and to provide scholarships.”

From our vantage point, it appears that Dr. Marshall is taking his message of accountability for students and staff and extending it to himself and alumni.

“It’s not enough to say you support the education of young people. I think you have to show that support by digging into your wallet personally to make sure young people have a chance to get where you are. Corporate donations are great, but when it gets down to it, individuals on the island also should be making personal contributions to higher education causes,” he said.

Dr. Marshall is wise to emphasize the need to diversify sources of revenue from among the private sector — and, we add, away from the public sector. Currently, central government directly contributes only about $90,000 per year to ICCI’s budget. That’s not a lot, but it’s roughly $90,000 too much.

There’s no such thing as getting something for nothing, and anything accepted from government comes wrapped in red tape and with strings attached.

For example, scores of students attend ICCI on government-paid scholarships. While there’s a clear difference between ICCI depositing checks from government, and ICCI enrolling students who are being helped by government scholarships, there are always strings.

Dr. Marshall, in our opinion, picked the right ones to pull last month when he put government scholarship students on notice that if they don’t keep up their grades, they will be required to take mandatory tutoring sessions on the weekends. As an alternative to socially promoting nonperforming students, or simply allowing them to fail their courses, Dr. Marshall’s move to the middle ground was simultaneously politic and positive.

Cayman is overpopulated with organizations, many well-intentioned, that have been compromised, hamstrung or otherwise rendered ineffectual by an overreliance on the government’s largesse. A group that is dependent on government money cannot, by definition, be considered independent.

That’s what makes ICCI’s fundraising campaign so important.

Thus far, we couldn’t be more pleased with what Dr. Marshall is saying and doing over at the Newlands campus. His words and actions have caught our attention, and we urge Cayman’s business owners and professionals, not just ICCI alumni, to consider making a meaningful contribution.

In fact, the Compass hopes that ICCI’s fundraising proves so successful that it can free itself completely of government subsidies. In that case, they may want to entertain changing the name of the school.

How about: the “Independent College of the Cayman Islands”?

That’s a pledge we’d be willing to sign on to.

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1 COMMENT

  1. In light of how pleased you are with Dr. Marshall and given your desire to see Cayman’s business owners and professionals make a meaningful contribution, so as to enable ICCI to free itself from Government subsidies- how much will the Cayman Compass be donating to the worthy cause?