Editors' Forum | 'The connector' - New principal of UWI, Mona, vows to ensure improved customer service during his tenure
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.