The mass exodus and resultant brain drain at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) continued unabated this week with the resignation of Interim Distinguished Professor John H. Stanfield.
Stanfield is also Founding Director of Mogae International Development and Governance Research Institute (MIDGRI) under BIUST, which was established to become the foremost African think tank and place of pioneering thinking and analysis of human conditions in the world. Stanfield, who becomes the third high profile professor to leave the institution after Vice Chancellor Professor Hillary Inyang and Acting VC Professor Dennis Siginer last year, hinted to political meddling in his decision.
In an email circulated to colleagues on Tuesday, Stanfield said he had that morning submitted his one month in advance intention of resigning, but that the Director of Legal Services Cynthia Sekga responded in the afternoon indicating that the University has decided to waiver his one month notice and make his resignation immediate. Sekga could not be reached for comment as her mobile phone rang unanswered. Stanfield told Botswana Guardian in an interview on Wednesday that he suspects that the financial woes of BIUST, his reputation for exercising his academic freedom rights, and his perceived ‘too high salary’ as a foreigner are the key motivating factors as to why BIUST management decided to waiver the one month rule. Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development Unity Dow was not aware that Stanfield has resigned when reached for comment on Wednesday.
She however said it is always a concern when someone resigns. “It is either he is not happy at his workplace or that he is regretting why he took the post in the first place,” she said. In the email he told that he was offered and accepted the global editorship of a new social science edited volumes series published by one of the world’s most distinguished scientific e-publishing firms. Stanfield told this publication that they had intended to kick off extraordinary high profile debates and conferences beginning February 2015 to put MIDGRI on full national and global display.
“Unfortunately as the media widely reported beginning in late September internal conflicts spilling over into the BIUST Council, made it increasingly difficult to get MIDGRI off the ground in regards to hiring essential personnel, including a possible successor once I left after my one year contract,” he said. Asked about the future of BIUST, Stanfield said the university will survive and certainly the configuration and substance of the future it will have will be up to the leadership of BIUST Council, Management, Academic Senate, and the Student Government.
“One thing is clear, BIUST will survive even if its leadership decides it is best to forgo its international thrust now, especially given the negative national and global publicity it is receiving which is discouraging excellent Batswana and non-Batswana administrators, faculty, students, and staff from coming let alone staying,” he said.The professor further noted that like any other institution, academic or otherwise, politics are always there. “What matters is how politics are managed in such a way that they enhance rather than impede the mission of a university be it public or private,” he advised.