UWI undertakes global movement

Sir Hilary Beckles, vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies.
Photo by George Alleyne

At the hallmark of the Caribbean is the University of the West Indies (UWI). With a strong show of support for this iconic institution to strengthen its base, continue its work and to reposition itself in the 21st century, new steps are being taken by the university to be a standard bearer in this millennium.

The American Foundation for the University of the West Indies (AFUWI) organized an evening of mix and mingle on Thursday, June 23, in Manhattan, on 301 57th St. and 2nd Avenue and invited some graduates and supporters of the institution to participate in the launching of the University’s “UWI Global Giving Week,” Aug. 1-7, 2016. Past students and associates used an opportune time to build, network and aligned themselves to learn about aspects of the change and how they can contribute.

The “UWI Global Giving Week” will undertake a fund raising drive to help some well needed students at the university. The initiatives also are to strengthen the University’s capacity to build its research capacity and innovation, to expand the university’s international footprint through partnerships with institutions of higher learning in the United States, Europe and Latin America and to assist the university in continuing to be an instrumental force in regional development. These are some of the plans afoot that the university upholds, and plans to implement further strategic networks for continued growth. The Chairman of AFUWI is Golden Krust’s President & CEO, Lowell Hawthorne. For his part, Hawthorne in his welcoming remarks to attendees, acknowledged the need for this change and expressed his support and call for the drive, “this is a worthy cause and it gives me an opportunity to help transform lives,” Hawthorne said. Forging this economic and financial drive for the university is a collective responsibility for academic freedom, he noted.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles, the featured speaker for the evening, explicitly highlighted the university’s plans to engage in establishing and formulating a “give back relationship with its graduates” around the globe. “The university is capable of the task,” he said. “The university is the Caribbean’s greatest gift to itself,” he said, quoting the late Professor Rex Nettleford. He noted that the Caribbean as a people will have to undertake the enormous responsibilities of what the next big move of the university will be, with the university itself being at the helmet of this change.

Beckles said although the Caribbean has always been part of the global movement, graduates must now be prepared to reflect and emancipate, educate and donate for “self reliance” through education, dignity and respect. “The university must not only be an excellent institution, but an ethical one,” Vice Chancellor Beckles said. The university must move to the next stage of change through globalization, it must be vigil and proficient.

According to Vice Chancellor Beckles, this global move has already witnessed responsive meetings with the Chairman of the State University of New York, (SUNY) Carl McCall. This alignment is to forge academic and economic links. At the center of this change also is a four-year program conceptualized by the University of the West Indies in collaboration with Suzhou Global Institute of Software Engineers in China. The program will begin in the fall semester of 2016 and will have some 500 students from all campuses of the university participating in software engineering classes in China. Students will spend two years in China and two years on the various Caribbean campuses. Students have the option of deciding where to spend the first two years. “This is a global university — for the Caribbean,” Sir Beckles added. The vice chancellor said the University of the West Indies has students from 146 countries attending classes at its campuses.

To better position the university for this change, and make this transformation a more global affair, is the well experienced and noted diplomat, former Jamaican Ambassador to the USA, Dr. Richard Bernal. Dr. Bernal as pro-vice chancellor for Global Affairs will build strategic networks both regionally and globally to continue and create this integration.

Noted artist Michael Escoffery, based in Mount Vernon, New York donated pieces of his artworks for sale and funds realised would go towards the University of the West Indies fund raising drive. For more information, go to www.uwi.edu/giving.

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