News Releases

UWI Principal receives honorary doctorate in Ghana

For Release Upon Receipt - November 19, 2009

St. Augustine

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, will confer an Honorary Degree on The University of the West Indies (UWI) Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles at a Special Congregation in the Great Hall of the University on Friday November 27, 2009.  

Sir Hilary has stated that he feels “humbled by the invitation to deliver the prestigious R.P.Baffuor lecture at these three universities,” and grateful for the conferment of the honorary degree by a university he respects and has visited. 

“It will be my fifth visit to Ghana, a country that is very dear to my heart and soul,” he said. “The honorary degree will serve as a daily reminder of the reason why we at Cave Hill chose to use the motif of the Golden Stool of Asante as the design of the new administration building.” The Golden Stool in Ghana is considered the symbolic resting place of the spirits of ancestors.  

Sir Hilary, the first Caribbean honoree of the university, will receive the honour within the context of his invitation to deliver the 6th R.P. Baffuor Memorial Lecture in Ghana, which will be hosted jointly with the University of Ghana and the Cape Coast University. Different lectures will be delivered in each university under the general theme “African Struggle for Caribbean Freedom.” The R.P. Baffuor Memorial Lecture was introduced by the Council of the Kwame Nkrumah University in 1977 to honour its first Ghanaian Vice Chancellor in recognition of his sound leadership and immense contribution to the development and growth of the university.    

Sir Hilary is being honoured for his outstanding achievements as historian and academic administrator, and particularly his contribution to the promotion of African culture and history in his teaching, research, and representation of African institutions and people in the international arena. Sir Hilary is no stranger to the university community in Ghana, having worked closely there with scholars, students and teachers over the years on various projects. As the principal writer in the UNESCO Slave Routes Schools Project he toured schools in Ghana and conducted teacher training workshops, as well as delivered academic seminars within the trade union movement and in civil society.  

In 2007, Sir Hilary, served on the board of directors at the prestigious Institute of Early American History and Culture, Virginia, USA, and was instrumental in organizing a major conference of American and European scholars in Ghana, in order to discuss the latest research on African-Atlantic History. There he met again with graduate students and academics in order to promote their research and publication in the West. His two books, Trading Souls: Europe’s Transatlantic Trade in Africans and Saving Souls: The Struggle to End the Transatlantic Trade in Africans, both published in 2007 to mark the bicentenary of the British abolition of the slave trade, were written principally for African schools and universities and are widely used in Ghana.  

Recently, Sir Hilary has spearheaded an MOU with the Centre for African Studies at the University of Ghana, to collaborate in delivering a Masters Degree in African Studies at UWI, Cave Hill for the next academic year. This Master’s degree is a pioneering project in African studies at UWI. Last year in Accra, he was elected to the board of directors of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), in recognition of his standing as a leading scholar in African diaspora research.



About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.