Regional Recovery and Response
Dawn-Marie De Four-Gill
We’ve made it to half mark in 2010, another year that is financially trying for nations around the world. In our corner of the globe the island states of the Caribbean have not escape the financial downturn unscathed nor has our regional University. The University’s dependence on funding from the Governments of its contributing member countries resulted in increased financial strain for the institution and the effects quickly filtered down to core stakeholders; staff and students. It is therefore with a sense of relief, albeit cautious, that we begin talks of recovery. With a Caribbean point of reference and welcomed candor, some of the brightest minds in the region are starting to offer answers. The end of the year draws near but in this issue of The Pelican we focus on beginning the painstaking job of piecing together again the puzzle of our fragmented economies.
Among the Caribbean voices being heard on the international stage on the subject of the global economic downturn is former UWI PVC and Principal, and current President of the Caribbean Developmental Bank (CDB) Dr. Compton Bourne. In a special double feature reprint from the Institutional Investor, leading Caribbean perspectives on regional economic recovery are explored and a new developmental outlook for the region emerges. Our ‘Conversations with Alumni’ piece also features a valuable perspective through an interview with one of the Caribbean’s leading economists and champion educator Sir Dwight Venner. Sir Dwight, the Caribbean Knight as The Pelican has dubbed him, wears many hats, two of which are Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and Chairman of the UWI Open Campus Council. These roles perfectly fit the man who strongly believes in the pivotal role that education must play in regional recovery and development.
As we take stock of where we are and how we must move beyond the crisis, we note that in its 60 years our University has acknowledged crises as part of the fabric that makes us the regional training ground for critical thinkers, innovators and world leaders. In this issue’s ‘In My Opinion’ Mona Campus Principal, Professor Gordon Shirley identifies the ‘now’ as the time for that critical transitioning toward sustainability and the adoption of an entrepreneurial spirit which he believes is key to achieving institutional sustainability. The discussion of recovery and sustainability is expanded to include a discourse on relevance; and as the Caribbean strategizes an approach to rebuilding we ask ourselves how relevant is the University to the process. Professor Andrew Downes, University Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), makes an excellent case for the region’s flagship higher education institution taking a leading role in the way forward with a focus on research and the provision of policy advice. He is joined by researchers Professor Rhoda Reddock and Juliana Foster who lobby for a gender perspective in the rebuilding process.
Also in this issue of The Pelican, UWI Vice Chancellor Professor E. Nigel Harris gives some insight into coping strategies that have been implemented across the University’s four campuses in the face of drastically reduced budgets and the impact of the economic downturn on the University’s Strategic Plan is also explored. At the international, regional and national levels we are weighing in on how to best make sense of the economic puzzle before us. Fulfilling our mandate, the regional University is stepping in to provide policy advice, conduct research, facilitate dialogue and in the long term contribute to unearthing the answers that we are all looking for.
I want to thank all our Pelican readers for the many letters and good wishes received. A special thank you to those who participated in the Pelican Readership Survey and congratulations to our prize winners. Continue to visit Pelican online for web-exclusive stories and back issues.