News Releases

Professor Opal Palmer Adisa is new Director of The UWI’s Institute for Gender & Development Studies

For Release Upon Receipt - August 24, 2017


The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Opal Palmer Adisa as the new University Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS). Dr Adisa’s appointment takes effect from August 9, 2017, succeeding Professor Verene Shepherd who held the post since 2010.

Professor Adisa is an internationally recognised writer, educator, cultural activist and diversity trainer who works with institutions on issues of inclusion and fairness. She holds a BA in Communications/Educational Media from Hunter College of the City University of New York, an MA in English/Creative Writing as well as an MA in Theatre/Directing from San Francisco State University in California and PhD in Ethnic Studies/Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Prior to taking up the directorship of the IGDS, Professor Adisa was a Distinguished Professor of the Master of Fine Arts Programme in Writing and Diversity Studies, Graduate Faculty Mentor, Faculty Advisor for the Diversity Studies Programme and Supervising Faculty Member of the Undergraduate Writing and Literature Programme at California College of the Arts since 1993. She has also served as an Associate Professor and Chair of the college’s Diversity Studies Programme and worked as a visiting Professor at University of California, Berkeley in the African American Studies Department and other universities including, Stanford and the University of the Virgin Islands. 

Professor Adisa’s accomplishments as an author and poet include over twenty publications, both scholarly and creative, that centralise women, explore issues of gender, and the interstice of Caribbean and African Diaspora history. Her poetry, stories, essays and articles have been collected in over 400 journals, anthologies and other publications and she has also lectured and read her work throughout the United States, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Germany, England, and Prague, and has performed in Italy and Bosnia.

Speaking on her appointment, Professor Adisa stated that she is “happy to return home to contribute to gender justice and all other diversity issues which are fundamental and essential to the development of the region. When we are able to acknowledge, appreciate and provide space for everyone to contribute to her/his full potential, then we have created a society that works for everyone.  Our growth and development must be informed by these humanistic values, so we really celebrate our hard-earned independence."


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Institute for Gender and Development Studies

The Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) is an autonomous regional office located within the Office of the Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies. It comprises three Campus Units — at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados (Nita Barrow Unit); at the Mona Campus in Jamaica (Mona Campus Unit); and at the St Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago (St. Augustine Unit). The University Director of the IGDS acts as a member ex officio of the three Campus Boards of Studies, the Academic Board at Mona and of the Faculty of Humanities and Education Board at Mona. The IGDS Regional Co-ordinating Office reports to the University Board for Graduate Studies and Research and to the Vice-Chancellor. 

About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in BarbadosJamaicaTrinidad 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 & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & 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. Website:


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