‘The con­nec­tor’

New prin­ci­pal of UWI, Mona, vows to en­sure im­proved cus­tomer ser­vice dur­ing his ten­ure

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer erica.virtue@glean­erjm.com

ON THE day he cel­e­brated his first 100 days in of­fice, Pro­fes­sor Dale Web­ber de­clared his de­ter­mi­na­tion to leave a last­ing foot­print with im­prove­ments in cus­tomer ser­vice dur­ing his ten­ure as prin­ci­pal of the Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies (UWI), Mona cam­pus.

A re­laxed and en­gag­ing Web­ber told a Gleaner Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum last Thurs­day that his leg of the re­lay ba­ton, which started on Au­gust 1, will see him con­nect­ing the vi­sions of the im­me­di­ate for­mer prin­ci­pals, pro­fes­sors Gor­don Shirley and Archibald McDon­ald.

“If you ask me what I want as my foot­print, Pro­fes­sor McDon­ald is per­haps go­ing to go down as the builder, be­cause he put on two or three build­ings. Pro­fes­sor Shirley is prob­a­bly go­ing to go down as the sys­tems man, be­cause he brought us sys­tems that we never had be­fore. He fixed up regis­tra­tion for ori­en­ta­tion. If I am go­ing to go down, I want to go down as the prin­ci­pal who dealt with cus­tomer ser­vice,” Web­ber told the fo­rum.

“For­tu­nately for me, I have been in the uni­ver­sity for a long time. I have worked with the last six prin­ci­pals, in some way, shape, or form, to help them com­plete their vi­sion. Luck­ily, there­fore, for me, I don’t have to cre­ate a brand new vi­sion,” Web­ber told Gleaner ed­i­tors and re­porters.

“In fact, I am com­plet­ing a lot of what Pro­fes­sor McDon­ald started. For ex­am­ple, when I asked the bur­sar what are my largest ex­pen­di­tures – one, salaries; two, util­i­ties; three, when I was with Pro­fes­sor Shirley, it was se­cu­rity. But it’s no longer se­cu­rity,” added Web­ber.

He said among his pri­mary fo­cuses will be to get the uni­ver­sity’s re­search and pub­li­ca­tion aligned with the goals of the coun­try.


“At my in­duc­tion the other day, the theme was con­nec­tiv­ity. So I am the con­nec­tor. I am now try­ing to get to all the peo­ple in the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties, var­i­ous in­dus­tries, to say, ‘what do you want done. I have some­body who can de­liver on that. I can put you to­gether’. I am the con­nec­tor,” de­clared Web­ber.

He ar­gued that McDon­ald, the im­me­di­ate past prin­ci­pal at the uni­ver­sity, started build­ing the hu­man ca­pac­ity at the in­sti­tu­tion.

“It meant hav­ing a highly mo­ti­vated staff, start­ing with mak­ing in­di­vid­u­als un­der­stand that what they do is im­por­tant. A tech­ni­cal staff must be part of the re­search, as without the right tech­ni­cal staff, all the re­search done is null and void, and you need to do it in the right sec­tors to reach the sup­port staff.

“My view, there­fore, is a com­ple­tion of the task that has been started. What Pro­fes­sor McDon­ald started, a lot of those I just want to bring to fruition. From what Pro­fes­sor Shirley started, I will bring to fruition. I am adding my flavour to the things that have al­ready been im­ple­mented. And if you ask me what I want to do new, I will still go back to cus­tomer ser­vice,” said Web­ber, who was flanked by mem­bers of his se­nior man­age­ment team.

Among them was Cam­pus Reg­is­trar Dr Camille Bell-Hutchin­son, who told the fo­rum that the stu­dents were the in­sti­tu­tion’s largest cus­tomer base.

“Fun­da­men­tal to our sur­vival is our stu­dent body. Those are our ma­jor and most im­por­tant stake­hold­ers. Pro­fes­sor Web­ber ended with cus­tomer ser­vice, and that res­onated with all the prin­ci­pals so far, and it’s part of what we are re­ally driv­ing to see, how best we can en­gage our stu­dents in a way that they feel val­ued, that our sys­tems are easy to nav­i­gate,” de­clared Bell-Hutchin­son.


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