UCCI/ICCI merger prospects dim

UCCI officials say any merger between their school and ICCI is unlikely in the near future.

Officials at the University College of the Cayman Islands said it is unlikely an agreement to unite their institution with the International College of the Cayman Islands will be reached anytime soon.

Speaking at a meeting of the UCCI Board of Governors, board member Tom Simpson said the ICCI board had turned down a proposal to merge the two campuses under a federation agreement, a mechanism common in American and Canadian colleges that wish to combine forces.

“ICCI found the idea interesting,” Mr. Simpson told other board members, “but they are holding out for what they are considering their union model, which would have a completely private sector board. Essentially, their proposal is for the government to get out of the university business.”

In an email, ICCI board chairman Mike Mannisto said the government and both schools need to work together.

“Collaboration between ICCI, UCCI and government will be key to any future successful model for higher education, including what an ideal governance structure and board composition would look like in order to achieve goals like U.S. regional accreditation.”

While there has long been talk of the two campuses combining forces, the effort to do so has ramped up in the past year. One of the primary benefits, officials say, would be creating a better chance to establish accreditation for the schools through a U.S. body.

Mr. Simpson told the board he still sees opportunities to pursue an agreement that would allow the two entities to share resources. But the UCCI board would have a conflict of interest in promoting or pursuing ICCI’s union idea unless the government Cabinet approved such a move.

Without that approval, Mr. Simpson said, the UCCI board would have to advocate for the elimination of the University Law, the very one under which it was formed and operates.

He said he was not privy to any negotiations that ICCI may have had with the government regarding the matter.

“They have not disclosed any discussions they’ve had with Cabinet or government,” he said. “But they seem confident enough to not take up our proposal.”

Hrudey foundation

During the meeting, UCCI President Roy Bodden presented a proposal for a foundation in honor of the late Dr. Bill Hrudey, who helped construct and served as director of the campus observatory. Jan P. Koeman and John Chamberlain, both close friends of Mr. Hrudey, said they want to see his work carried on.

The proposed foundation would have an endowment of $4 million and would “fund and staff a visiting two-year post-doctoral fellowship to operate the observatory and continue its educational mission at UCCI.”

In their proposal, Mr. Koeman and Mr. Chamberlain commit to contributing $1 million.

The remaining $3 million would be raised by selling three million shares of the foundation at $1 each.