UWI Vice-Chancellor: This is The UWI’s finest hour

University focused on managing expenditure, standards and quality


Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Thursday, May 14, 2020 — The Council that bears responsibility for the highest level of decision-making at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) met virtually on Wednesday, May 13, to discuss a number of critical matters, particularly, the financing and sustainability of the regional University.

With a live broadcast via UWItv online and on cable channels across the region, the open session of the meeting commenced with remarks from its Chairman, Chancellor Robert Bermudez. In his presentation, which followed, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles reported a successful year in review to the University Council, indicating that The UWI’s reputation is currently at its highest, having been recognised among the top 4% of universities in the world in international rankings. More importantly, he outlined how The UWI, in continuing its commitment to service and leadership in the region is imagining the future.

“We will begin the process of rolling out a new era, and a new future in which we manage our university’s resources, policies and programmes skilfully, helping the institution to maintain its global status while working hand in glove with the governments’ fiscal and financial parameters.”
Vice-Chancellor Beckles made this statement, speaking in the context of the added financial pressures on the regional governments that contribute to financing the regional university. He acknowledged that the Caribbean, already facing existential threats from chronic diseases, climate change and now COVID-19, is experiencing serious revenue challenges and declared that The UWI will in turn, cut its own expenditures as expected by its contributors.

He thanked the governments for their continued support of the institution and said he hopes that the region is proud of the University’s contributions—particularly “UWI Medicine” and “UWI Science”. He asserted that “our mobilisation to fight this pandemic and save lives in the last three months has been The UWI’s finest hour.”

In similar sentiments, Chancellor Bermudez in his opening remarks asserted, “The fate of our region could have been much worse, had our leadership not listened to the Science, originating from entities such as our very own George Alleyne-Centre for Chronic Disease Research.” He added, “I am pleased by the confidence our regional governments have shown in our regional university to lead the visioning of our path out of COVID-19.”

Among other discussions at Wednesday’s University Council Meeting, was the approval of additional duties for Campus Principals. Professor The Most Hon. V. Eudine Barriteau, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal at Cave Hill has been given an added portfolio of responsibility for the social impact of COVID-19 on students and staff; Professor Dale Webber, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal at Mona has oversight of disaster preparedness; Dr. Luz Longsworth, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Open Campus has been assigned global affairs and Professor Brian Copeland, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, St. Augustine Campus has been given charge of digital transformation. Professor Densil Williams who is currently Pro Vice-Chancellor of Planning has been appointed new Principal of The UWI Five Islands Campus in addition to his existing portfolio for strategic planning and academic-industry alignment.

In a post Council Media Briefing on Thursday, May 14, The UWI Senior Executive Leadership engaged members of the regional media in a conversation on issues such as admissions and teaching in the upcoming academic year related to the impact of COVID-19. On planning for the future of The UWI, Vice-Chancellor Beckles explained that the university participates in public life in multiple areas and that this is reflected in how it is reading and understanding Caribbean economy, responding to the pandemic’s impact on the Caribbean community and on its current students. He added, underway is also planning and thinking about “the education of the next generation of Caribbean youth who are about to leave high school in pursuit of their futures and how we intend to embrace them as we go forward.”

Clarifying matters of financing and funding for the future, Vice-Chancellor Beckles responded saying that the University is looking closely at all its expenditure. He noted that in 2019, it embarked on an exercise to cut 10% of expenditure in two years but that the COVID-19 pandemic reality means further cuts would have to be considered. More importantly he assured that the University’s leadership is working on both sides of the balance sheet: expenditure reduction and revenue generation as a holistic approach, in the context of maintaining our standards and quality.

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Notes

The opening segment of its annual University Council Meeting which includes Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles’ report can be accessed here: https://www.facebook.com/UWITV/videos/269021977613812/

Access the Vice-Chancellor’s Report, titled “Corporate Bonding: The UWI’s Next Funding Frontier” at www.uwi.edu/vcreport.

Two special reports complement Vice-Chancellor’s Report to Council this year.“Leading Climate Action” and “Building an Entrepreneurial UWI”. Read more at www.uwi.edu/vcreport

About The UWI

For 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership, and in 2018 it marks its evolution from a university college in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to a respected regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with sister universities in North America, Asia, and Africa such as the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, and the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies. The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport.

Since The UWI was established 70 years ago, the University began its journey to excellence within the context of Caribbean colonialism, and has sought to break free of the imperial scaffold while propelling the Caribbean world into the era of national independence and nation-building. As a uniquely developed federal university funded by 17 Caribbean national communities, The UWI has pursued an agenda to be academically excellent and socially ethical.

Website: www.uwi.edu. (Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)