LIBERIA: Tubman University Response To University Faculty

On Monday, February 28, 202LIBERIA: Tubman University University Response To University Faculty2, the Tubman University Faculty Association (TUFA) through its president, Mr. Francis Fukah, Jr., presented a Resolution adopted at its special General Assembly held on February 12, 2020.

In their resolution, TUFA presented information to the public, most of which are in contrast to facts and realities. Although the University has been working with TUFA over the last few weeks and remains fully committed to resolving the issues raised, it would like to make some clarifications and call for calm within the University community as the Board of Trustees intervenes to bring a lasting solution.

Research Allowances Administration would like the public to note that every operation at TU is backed by policies and the president and his cabinet members have, in no way, high-jacked public monies for their own interests.

The amount(s) quoted by TUFA are special allowances duly budgeted and premised on Policy Number OP 20-001A of August 1, 2020. Research and Special Expense Allowances are paid to senior management personnel as designated by the head of the institution in the category of the President, Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Assistant Vice Presidents and Executive Assistant, all of whom are members of the President’s Cabinet. Research in this sense is not academic or scholastic, but applied or professional and administrative. The disbursement is never lump-sum as has been portrayed, and is allowed under the laws of the Republic of Liberia as duly defined under Part T-1 of the Public Finance Management Regulations (PFM Regulations) and Liberia’s Classification and Chart of Accounts. (See 211101 of the referenced document).

TU would also like to clarify to the public that, in addition to the President’s cabinet members, responsibility allowances are also paid to members of the faculty, including Mr. Francis Fukah, Jr., who is TUFA’s President.

Furthermore, TUFA’s assertion that the President “tells his faculty members they are ‘bloody liars’”; is made-up and only intended to invoke sentiments. Prof. Wreh-Wilson, himself a faculty for over 40 years, respects faculty and places a high premium on them and the invaluable contributions they make to nation-building. Neither the President nor the administration has had adversarial relations with the faculty, least to mention the use of abusive language while meeting faculty.

TUFA claims that Dr. Wreh-Wilson “has used the Library, and most recently the classroom as his prison”. TUFA also accuses the President of transferring a bachelor’s degree holder to the classroom and has assigned said individual the rank of Assistant Professor. Additionally, the group alleges that Dr. Wreh-Wilson reemployed former employees earlier dismissed for several reasons, including stealing.

Transfer of administrative staff to the classroom

These assertions that the President uses the library and classrooms as his prison is untrue and incorrect. At no point in time has the President transferred anyone with a bachelor’s degree to the classroom. In fact, the hiring of faculty is the sole responsibility of the Division of Academic Affairs in concert with the Department of Human Resources and Compliance and not the President’s office.

TUFA also fails to mention the name of the person with a bachelor’s degree who was purportedly transferred to the classroom. Furthermore, the Administration has no knowledge of reemploying anyone who was previously dismissed ‘for stealing’ at the University as it is being alleged. TUFA also refuses to name such employees and to provide evidence that such was the case. Criteria for appointment of faculty members are clearly articulated in the university’s academic policies and do not support an undergraduate degree holder becoming an assistant professor.

Disparities in Salaries & Harmonization

The Pro-Poor Cuts of 3.5%, 5%, 7.5%, and 10% respectively during the first half of 2018 was the Government of Liberia’s (GOL) policy intended to address payroll issues, and was not the making of, or unique to, Tubman University as it is being purported.

The Salary Harmonization, which is different from Pro-Poor Cuts, was also the GOL’s fiscal policy intended to address salary disparities across all three branches of government (Executive, Judiciary, and the Legislature) and was not peculiar to TU.

This was further clarified by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Civil Service Agency in a zoom meeting held with the University which TUFA declined to attend. To that effect, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the Civil Service Agency (CSA) have committed to work with all stakeholders to address the issues of harmonization and any disparities in the payroll.

Salary Increment

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the Civil Service Agency (CSA) have agreed to set up a joint team to visit and work with TU’s administration to probe the issues of salary increment and any possible disparity in pay among faculty. The university, however, wishes to inform TUFA and the public that TU does not have the authority to automatically raise salaries for its employees. TU’s payroll is controlled by the MFDP and the CSA, both of which must approve such increases.

Tenure and Promotion of Faculty

TU wishes to clarify that tenure and promotions for faculty are performance-based. As a matter of best practice in higher education the world over, the faculty, not administration, normally organizes promotion and tenure committees. Regrettably, despite constant reminder by administration, the faculty is yet to establish said committees.

Housing and Housing Allowances

Administration wishes to remind TUFA that following the February 17, 2022 meeting held at the University’s conference room, the President’s cabinet reached the decision to abolish the collection of maintenance fees from resident faculty members. It therefore surprises administration that TUFA would again raise this same issue. Additionally, administration introduced maintenance fees collection to enable repairs and maintenance of facilities. The Cabinet also agreed to avail all records collection and expenditure of the maintenance fees to a certified public accountant for audit purposes as requested by TUFA. Additionally, Administration promised to look into the request for housing allowances for faculty members without campus housing as resources become available.

Reimbursement of Group Insurance Premiums paid

This administration reminds TUFA that a formal contract existed between SAAR Insurance and Tubman University to provide group insurance, and premiums paid are non-refundable. The insurance contract was renegotiated and cancelled based on complaints from employees that SAAR’s services were unfavorable.

For providing clarity, and contrary to TUFA’s claims that the University has refused to give audience to their plights, the administration held three meetings in February alone, including the zoom meeting with the MFDP and CSA, to resolve issues raised by them.

In conclusion, the university assures the public that corruption, mismanagement, and mischief are incompatible with standards and practices at TU. Some of the information provided by TUFA is untrue and incorrect. The administration calls on the student populace to remain calm as the Board of Trustees engages with TUFA and Administration to find a workable and lasting solution to the conflict in the best interest of the parties, especially the students. As a university family, we must now realize that peace and tranquility are indispensable for a conducive learning environment.

The university also encourages all members of the faculty to return to the classroom, and implore the leadership of TUFA to return to the negotiation table especially now that the Board of Trustees is involved.

The administration is thankful to the President of Liberia and Visitor to the University, His Excellency Dr. George M. Weah for reconstituting the Board of Trustees. The University also congratulates those appointed.

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