UCCI to begin search for new president

The search will soon begin for a new president at the University College of the Cayman Islands.

President Roy Bodden recently announced that he will leave his post at the end of the next calendar year, after what will be a 10-year stint as head of the campus.

Tom Simpson is a member of the UCCI Board of Governors and part of the five-person search committee. The committee will begin advertising for the position in January as part of an international search and hopes to be looking at final candidates by the end of February, he said, adding that the board is looking to redefine the role of the president.

“The president needs to be more externally focused,” Mr. Simpson said. “There’s a need to ramp up the private fundraising. The government didn’t increase our budget [this year]. The faculty hasn’t had a raise in years. It’s time to find more money.”

Board Chairman Lemuel Hurlston said the change in strategy is necessary.

“We need a candidate that’s going to be able to take the university to the next level,” Mr. Hurlston said. And that will mean more money.

The school is well positioned for that move because of Mr. Bodden’s leadership, said Mr. Simpson, referring to the financial problems that took place under the previous administration. Then-president Hassan Syed misappropriated more than $700,000 for personal use. Syed was sentenced to eight years in prison in August.

”President Bodden stabilized the thing,” Mr. Simpson said. “The place is now positioned to start fulfilling its purpose.”

A big part of that purpose is helping local students complete their studies. About half of the student body, he said, are completing an associate degree with the idea of transferring abroad to complete bachelor’s degrees. There is not always enough funding for those students, he said, despite lots of local scholarships.

“We have seen students who have to drop out after a year or two,” Mr. Simpson said, due to lack of money.

Having the president focus more on fundraising would help such students.

In addition to dredging up more outside funding, the new president will also be expected to continue to forge stronger ties with overseas universities, creating smoother pathways for students who transfer to complete their final two years of undergraduate work. UCCI currently has several memoranda of agreement in place with universities in the United States, Canada and Germany.

Mr. Simpson said the changes will make the role of UCCI’s president similar to those at most four-year universities, where there is a focus on connecting to the outside community and building connections with other institutions.

The current position of Dean of Academics will be elevated to vice president/provost. That position, will focus on internal operations at the school and will be filled a few weeks after the new president is announced, Mr. Simpson said. Mr. Bodden will be available, as needed, until the end of December to help with the transition.

The board is in the process of finalizing the job description for the new president and plans to approve that description at its meeting Dec. 13. Before that Mr. Simpson said, the board is seeking input from the public on what to incorporate into the description.

The position description can be found by clicking the “search” tab on the board of governor’s website: governance.ucci.edu.ky. Anyone wishing to provide input to the description can contact board secretary Lucille Kong at 623-0563.