I am so glad I left RAK in the year 1 BC (Before Claw). The more I hear, the more I shudder in my retirement slippers. Thanks to my many dear friends for their anguished updates of two RAK colleges: once beautiful, now on the brink of a mismanagement catastrophe.... waiting to be pushed over the edge by an elderly American Mussolini with memory loss, and his acolyte Associate Director, a former student in the college (of whom more anon if I can get a full factual bio from my oldest informants).
Last month HCT told ALL (including Ras Al Khaimah) faculty and support staff who were leaving that they had to leave early, and would lose several months of severance pay. Whether teacher or support, they turned up on a certain Tuesday and were told it was their last day of work. Even worse, in some cases staff were phoned late at night by a student who was sorry to learn it was their last day of work, even before the teacher had heard it!. There was no written communication. It was all botched word of mouth, hearsay, rumor: very HCT.
HO! HO! DOWNWARD STEP A. When HCT was a professional institution with ethics and credibility and a mission to recruit and retain quality staff, it would pay to the end of the contract. DOWNWARD STEP B. Then, when it became mismanaged and disreputable, it paid to the end of the last teaching day -- to hell with the details of the contract. DOWNWARD STEP C. Now it's recalculating the last working day in its own mercenary interest.
HCT in RAK apparently then realized it was in deep wobbly brown stuff as it slowly dawned upon the management that many teachers would leave without finishing their marking of exams projects or portfolios and their input of grades. The college went into panic mode. Therefore, teachers were re-invited, or commanded to extend their service to HCT rather than take the extra leave days they had rightfully accrued with immediate effect!
In the RAK Men's College, a splendid support person responsible for maintenance, room setup for exams, clean bathrooms etc was arrogantly informed he'd be gone by the end of the afternoon. He then, meekly and with his limited salary, went out and bought a revised travel ticket bearing the extra cost at his own expense. Then he was told he could stay on until Sunday because no transition had been planned. He could stay on at HCT's convenience, but would still be obligated to leave early in order to save HCT RAK some dirhams it would be proud to report to its Abu Dhabi masters.
A wonderful lady was told she also needed extra time to hand over to her successor. A third services person who had served students in the library for a decade and a half had to wait until beyond her going-home time to learn if it were to be her last day or not as her elusive supervisor (the Notorious and elusive Associate ex-student now-Director) dodged her. A short reprieve was granted to all but the library person.
However, I was shocked to be told that support staff were not granted the reprieve accorded to Faculty. Professional educators would hope that HCT might act, at least publicly, according to universal principles of human rights, rather than petty fiscal savings that violate human rights. HCT would retain Faculty while dumping long serving services people.
Faculty, by pleading work responsibilities and the threat of litigation and internet-based adverse publicity, were granted their extension to 16th June. Support service staff, on the contrary, seen as helpless people, were granted the absolute minimalist extension for purely practical reasons so that there could be a smooth transition to their successors.
ONE SUCCESSOR IS THE BROTHER IN LAW OF THE ASSOCIATE DRECTOR. They were cut for budgetary reasons. The chosen one, the brother in law, was newly hired to take over. NEPOTISM? WASTA? Go tell the accreditation board.
The point of this awful exercise in bad human resources management was that management and brown-nosing people could then report back to Abu Dhabi on how much money they had saved HCT. They would not report on how much good will and corporate reputation they had lost. They would omit that. Focus on the figures, not on the vision. Do not mention the alienation of employees from the organization. No, keep the lid on that one.
When did HCT become so shabby? When did it become a mean-minded dispiriting place to work, and not a place of vision? When did it begin to take pride in screwing, without a kiss, its loyal faculty and support staff and stop rewarding excellence? When did it compromise its vision of excellence and settle not only for second best but second last?
SHAME on you all: Provosts (what a redundancy), vice chancellors, SCINTILLating brown nosers, Rudey people in petty positions of power, silent people afraid to speak out. The arrogant minority (those with no meaningful contact with faculty, students and support staff) go to these secretive macho management meetings dreaming up these grand schemes to save dirhams and cheat the long serving loyal majority.
As a result, the loss to HCT's reputation as a place to learn, educate, work and serve is beyond all our calculations, and certainly theirs. It was good when I worked there. When did HCT start to go wrong? Was there a single defining moment?
As a policy-maker now in my post HCT life, I urge you teachers who remain at HCT to take a bold step now: make a list of all those institutions and organizations with whom HCT has signed MOUs, and established partnerships, and inform them of the Faculty and support staff view. You also need to inform all those accrediting universities and colleges and bodies of the hideous truth. Speak as faculty, presenting facts. You need to speak as a unified voice, not individuals with grievances. That should be easy, given the majority view of management, and the factual and documented evidence.
IT’S YOUR COLLEGE, SO MAKE YOUR FEELINGS AND OPINIONS KNOWN!