New UWI chancellor takes office

Jamaica W.I. – The University of the West Indies (The UWI) marked a change July 17 in its leadership as it welcomed a new chancellor, the highest office-holder in The UWI system. Trinidad and Tobago national Robert Bermudez assumed duties as the sixth chancellor of the university after being appointed at the University Council’s annual business meeting on April 27 to succeed Sir George Alleyne.

According to the university’s statutes and ordinances, “the chancellor shall preside at meetings of the council [the highest governing body of the regional university] and any convocation and shall have such powers and perform such duties as may be conferred upon the holder of the office of chancellor by The UWI Charter or any statute, ordinance or regulation.”

Chancellor Bermudez—as he will be called—has been an entrepreneur for more than 40 years. He led the growth of his family-owned firm to a regional business throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and has enjoyed a distinguished career in business, serving as either chairman or board director for several corporate bodies in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. His vision for the university outlines a keen sense of the mission, effectiveness, relevance and interdependence of academia and the economy. His professional experience as a Caribbean-wide entrepreneur with business acumen garnered from across the region suggests that he will continue the outstanding tradition of chancellorship at the University.

His predecessors include Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (1948-1971); Sir Hugh Wooding (1971-1974); Sir Allen Montgomery Lewis (1975-1989); Sir Shridath Ramphal (1989-2003); and Sir George Alleyne (2003-2017).

The UWI’s senior executive management team and extended community of faculty and staff, students, alumni and council members warmly welcomed Bermudez to the academy. The institution also thanked Alleyne for his remarkable tenure of 23 years working at the regional university, including 14 years of service as chancellor.

The official installation ceremony for Bermudez is expected to be held in September 2017 at The UWI, St. Augustine Campus.

According to professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor, “Our new chancellor has demonstrated through his many roles as a man conscious of his Caribbean identity and responsibility, and willingness to provide leadership to our people at home and beyond, in the entrepreneurial arena and elsewhere, that he is amply energized for the role of chancellor of our beloved UWI. He comes to office on the eve of our 70th anniversary, during which the university community will be reflecting upon 70 years of service and leadership. It will be an honour for us to have him presiding over these activities.”

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional university with more than 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in food and agriculture, engineering, humanities and education, law, medical sciences, science and technology and social sciences.

UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Visit the university at www.uwi.edu. (From UWI regional headquarters)

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