The constant complaints about the attitude of the current Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Kenneth Nolan, Jr., of the University of St. Martin towards staff and other members of the Management Team is the latest issue of concern for the WIFOL union.
Nolan, who was part of the so-called Leadership Team which the USM Board had tried to put in place to replace the Management Team, is being accused of harassment and intimidation of the staff at the island’s higher education institution. As of late, Nolan has refused to attend staff and Management Team meetings, apparently Mr. Nolan has a problem with St. Maarten local professionals and their desire to step up to their responsibility as role models in education. The staff is wondering why he continues to get away with this behavior without even a reprimand by the President of USM or the President of the Board.
According to WIFOL President Theophilus Thompson, Nolan acts like he is de-facto president of the institution. "Nolan has refused to be an equal member of the recently reinstated Management Team and cooperate with the management structure accepted by the Board of Directors," Thompson said.
Thompson cautioned that the title for the job Nolan applied for, and for which he received his employment permit, was that of Financial Comptroller, which was later changed by the Board to CFO. Nolan, who is a U.S. retiree, even started to work at USM prior to his work permit being formalized by government. Several persons on-island had applied for the position, but the Lockie Johnson Board decided to hire Nolan, who is said to have been requested by another Board member.
"This disrespect toward the staff has to stop," said Thompson, adding that the Board of USM has to withdraw the implicit or explicit mandate given to Nolan and bring him to order. The staff members have witnessed Nolan even overruling USM’s President Josianne Fleming’s position and instructions, Thompson said, adding that some staff members have even labeled him a dictator.
The WIFOL president said that recently there has been an advertisement in the newspapers for a counterpart to the CFO at USM, but he believes this is a shame
and is waiting to see if someone is hired for the position, particularly since Nolan’s work permit is soon due to expire.
Since Nolan’s arrival last year, a number of staff members have had to take legal action against the university, their employer. Nolan, currently the highest paid employee at USM, has outright refused to pay certain employees for work done, pays others below the minimum wage, and refused to order books for the USM bookstore. Other staff members say he is requiring them to execute multiple job functions under the salary for one function.
"As CFO, he has not provided any proper calculated forecasting or any documented financial records to the staff," Thompson said. Thompson added that Nolan continues to slander the former Financial Controller, a qualified Antillean, while he himself seems incapable of handling the job he was hired to do.
As part of the hard economic times, the university, like any viable institution, has also decided to look at its finances. "In this process, despite the many proposals presented by staff, the only measure that Nolan keeps hammering on is cutting local staff, while non-Antilleans—some without proper documentation—are overlooked in his proposals," Thompson said, adding that this form of bias is regrettable.
While supplies and payroll and other benefits for staff take a backseat, under the claims that USM does not have any money, "beautification" of the current USM building continues. For Thompson, this is all a façade because the spending on cosmetic items is continuing, but operation essentials are being cut back. Beautification of the campus should not be used as a means of deceiving the public about the real operational and educational issues at USM, Thompson added.
"The Board of USM has to realize that the core of any business such as USM is students and the employees, and proper and fair treatment of these employees should be a priority," said Thompson. "If the Board is taking the university in a new direction, they have to let the staff and people of St. Maarten know this; they should let the people know exactly which direction they are going," we at the WIFOL are really concerned about this man. He really do not understand that St. Maarten is moving on and soon to be a country and its future lies with its youths Thompson concluded.