(CMR) A recent article in another publication erroneously stated that government scholarships were cut in order to facilitate a pay raise for the board of directors at the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI). The truth is that the scholarship process had closed and there was excess in the budget from unused funds and it merely transferred from one section of the budget to another.
The other local paper made the assumption that this was a decrease taken in order to give the board the increase. On the contrary, scholarships were just increased with the PACT government spending more on education increasing the scholarship grants from $25,000 to $35,000. $140,000 of the allotted funds is said to be for the payment of an HR audit at the university and included the cost of an executive board secretary along with recruitment costs.
The Cabinet Minutes, which the Compass relied upon actually states that “that approval would result in an increase in budget allocations to UCCI for budget years 2022 and 2020”.
CMR understands that this board stipend increase did not directly have anything to do with a reduction in scholarships at all. Under s. 11(5) of the Public Management and Finance Act (2020 Revision), moving funds from one area to another is not entirely uncommon. In this instance, the $251,809.00 had been initially placed under the TP 30 – Local and Overseas Scholarships account but was unused. It was therefore moved to the CCO 1- Teaching of Tertiary Level, Professional and Vocations Programs account.
In other words, it came from savings in one area and was transferred to bring the board member's stipend compensation up to bar with that of similar boards. The scholarship program has not suffered in any way. By comparison, a s.12 would have been “an absolute increase”.
What does appear to be emerging, however, is an alleged power struggle between the highly paid UCCI President and CEO Stacy McAfee and her new board of directors which CMR understands is keen to put in place greater controls and accountability. McAfee makes KYD$14,774.38 per month which includes $700 health cash earnings and $500 car allowance totaling some KYD$177,288 per annum. She also receives pension and insurance benefits under plans at the university.
This is slightly lower than the pay grade for the premier of the Cayman Islands and government ministers and on par with the Chief Justice and Deputy Governor.
Her three-year contract expires December 31 and it is understood an open recruitment process will take place. Oddly enough, CMR has discovered that her lucrative employment contract was drafted for her by former board member Tom Simpson. Simpson, originally from Toronto, Canada at on the UCCI board since 2016 as the Chair of the Audit & Finance Committee, Member of the Executive Committee and Member of the CEO Search Committee.
McAfee's future at the university appears to be tenuous at best as numerous scandals have shaken her brief tenure include several employees being arrested for serous offenses including theft at the university and child pornography. There have been numerous other concerns raised about her handling of Caymanian staff and project expenditures.
In the instance of the latter, President McAfee issued in statement in September claiming that “we can confirm that in 2021 he was employed as as staff member in a non-teaching capacity”. However, CMR obtained documents proving that Freddy Diaz was on the UCCI 2021 Spring Schedule slated to teach 4 classes.