Professor Claude Montgomery Packer: Tyranny at The Mico University College
By Dwayne Brown
Many are appalled at the lack of moral integrity, the act of cronyism and nepotism, as well as despotism demonstrated by Professor Packer, the president of the Mico University College in Kingston. In spite of, the institution's vision to make the university college one of many choices in the Caribbean for persons pursuing degrees in Teacher Education, the president has abused work ethics and has carried out atrocities that are in violation of the labor laws set out to run all public Education organizations in Jamaica.
An administrative staff member who worked at the institution for several years, wish not to be identified by name, said, “my job security has been threaten, because of my utterly vocal opposition to the president’s colonial method of divide and rule style of leadership to this day.” A big problem in Jamaica’s work force is that there are no job opportunities for young professionals and college graduates, because retired workers are holding those job positions hostage and the practice of despotism forces many out of a job.
For instance, the president only employ retirees from other institution who are loyal and will support his decision be it good or bad, in fact, he himself is a retiree (74 years of age). This is a public institution and not a private one. Anyone who challenges the president, his/her tenure will be terminated, be it lecturer, support staff or administrative staff.
During my investigation, I have learned that on several occasions the excessive abuse of power by the president has resulted in staff members being unduly fired, and lives being threaten. For example, in May 2011, the former Director of Communication & Marketing Miss Totlyn Oliver, who has contributed immensely to the institution and overall education system was inhumanely escorted from the campus by security, based on false allegations.
Similarly, in November 2010, Nurse Owen, was relieved of her job no more than twenty four hours after she was attacked at home. She was robbed, gun butted, and subsequently hospitalized after the attack. Her termination letter was delivered by the president's personal security. It was believed that, the nurse discovered serious and questionable discrepancies in monitory engagement of the University by the president which raised several questions and alarms. Hence, her services were no longer needed.
Additionally, in August 2010, Mr. and Mrs. Barette were lecturers (married couple) who served the institution with integrity. One in history and Social Studies, and the other in Library Education department. Their jobs were terminated against the background that both have abandon their jobs. The actual reason for terminating their jobs was based on the premise of constant challenges posed by Mr. Barette to the president tyranny which he pointed out in several staff meetings. These challenges were not taken lightly by the president. However, at the same time, the practice of nepotism was rife within the institution. For example, the president's daughter and son-in-law were employed at the institution, as well as both individuals were never interviewed for the positions that was never advertised in the first place.
According to the Ministry of Education, there should be transparency in the operation of all public education institutions, questions must be asked and answers given. How can one individual be made to run a public government institution with such subjectivity? Is this individual autonomous? Doesn't he answers to a board or to the Ministry of Education? This is an institution with a vision & mission to serve Jamaica, but if placed under serious scrutiny would be found wanting.
Furthermore, Professor Packer's mismanagement of The Mico University College affairs were highlighted when NewsTalk 93.fm in late September 2012 reported “Decision by Principal and Board of Mico University College to terminate employment of lecturer to go before Judicial Review.” The lecturer, Mr. Alvin Lawson, was unjustly terminated in August 2011, due to a failure in communication between the Ministry of Education and the College Board to retain his job. The Judicial Review, is an actual lawsuit filed against Professor Packer and the Board by Mr. Lawson.
For an institution that has been contributing to at least 65% or more of the teaching fraternity each year, to be mired in all of these discrepancies and ethical violation, will it not have a negative impact on those who are being prepared to go out and contribute to the education system? I must ask against the background of all these issues that the Ministry of Education begin an investigation into learning institutions that are given public funds to contribute to nation building, however, have used government funds selfishly and for personal gains.