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Prof Bissessar denies deanship ambitions: I quit so I could write

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Prof Ann Marie Bissessar, a member of the beleaguered Integrity Commission, said she quit her post as head of the Behavioural Sciences Department at the University of the West Indies (UWI) because she wants more time to write a novel, start a drive to help starving children in Senegal and do other charitable projects.


According to a report yesterday in another paper, Bissessar quit a year before her three-year contract expired because she hoped to be made Dean of the Department of Social Sciences, but someone else had been selected. But Bissessar told the T&T Guardian yesterday that even a year ago, colleagues at UWI knew she was going to quit because she had said she was going to serve for one year as head of the department.


She said she was employed for 20 years as an administrator in the public service and didn’t want to get back into administrative work. She said people do not realise that headships and deanships are nominated positions for a limited time and the work is done in conjunction with other duties such as teaching. “You only get a stipend for deanships and headships.


“I had just come back from a major operation and members of my staff nominated me. “When I assumed the position, I told everybody that I was supposed to see the department through the period that Dr Mustapha wasn’t there. “I was appointed for three years but said I would serve for one year.”


Bissessar said she will now devote all her time to her other positions at UWI as professor, lecturer and supervisor of graduate students and doing research for her writing. She recalled that in August 2010, Dr Nasser Mustapha, then head of the Behavioural Sciences Department, stepped down and she was asked to fill the vacancy.


She said she believed he wanted more time to do research and there may have been some personal reasons, too. With the help of senior lecturers, she started renovations and has left the department in perfect condition, with all systems up and running, she said. “I thought I did enough, and wanted to keep on writing.”


Bissessar said there are four other senior lecturers, including Mustapha and Dr Bishnu Ragoonath, who are well able to head the department. The author of 15 books, she said one of her passions is writing and another is teaching. She said she is working, for the first time, on fiction. In addition, she wants to do worldwide studies on anti-money laundering and anti-corruption.


Bissessar said the Integrity Commission dispute between the chairman, Ken Gordon, and deputy chairman, Gladys Gafoor, which has ended up in court, has negatively affected her professional and personal life at UWI. “I am a very private person,” she said.


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