I will never forget my Graduation Day at the St Augustine Campus, it was an emotional time. As I walked forward to accept my certificate, I felt a combination of accomplishment, anxiety and exhilaration. I had travelled from Guyana as a teen just three years prior, and was leaving much more mature and ready to face the world with confidence, as a graduate in Mechanical Engineering. It was 1972 and I had decided that my next steps would take me even further, to Canada, to continue my studies.
These emotions return each year at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus Graduation Ceremonies, as I look out at the thousands of students who are also about to make a similar transition and see the faces of the teachers, administrators and professional/technical staff who have worked assiduously to help them accomplish their dreams. I always feel profoundly proud of our UWI family. I am also touched by thousands of families that have supported their children and the great pride they exude in their accomplishments.
Teaching is a calling, a vocation, not just a job, but a collaborative, multi-faceted, fluid journey, and we are proud to have helped our hardworking, innovative students make that step towards gaining their independence. We have learnt from you as well and we are confident that you will continue to hold true to the ideals of the Academic Vow which you took on entering UWI at the Matriculation Ceremony: “to love learning, to advance true knowledge … to show respect… and to lead a seemly life and set a worthy example of good behaviour”.
These words may sound archaic and old fashioned to many, but they will keep you in good stead and bring lasting rewards. As we celebrate our country’s fiftieth anniversary of independence, I cannot help but look at the St Augustine Campus’ contribution to country and region and our strides over the years. Our 5,000 new students and 11,000 current ones will benefit from the newly constructed teaching and learning facilities, refurbished dormitories, new Faculties, including the Faculty of Science and Technology, the Faculty of Food and Agriculture and the Faculty of Law, blended learning courses, postgraduate programmes and innovative new research programmes. We are also focused on the construction of our South Campus at Penal/Debe which should open its doors in 2014; and we continue to develop our facilities in Tobago, and work toward bringing our new agriculture field station at Orange Grove into reality.
We know that our staff are dedicated and hardworking members of the community, and so we were truly excited about the opportunity to celebrate “our own” at The Retirement and Employee Recognition Award Ceremony in June. Our retirees are the pillars of this institution and in paying tribute to them we are also honouring the core values of UWI - the pursuit of excellence, a keen sense of individual and social responsibility and a commitment to the development of the region. You can read about this milestone event in this issue of UWI STAN.
I am honoured to be part of our UWI St Augustine history and to be able to contribute to the legacy built by those before me: Sir Phillip Sherlock (1960), Professor Dudley Huggins (1963), Professor Lloyd Brathwaite (1969), Professor George Maxwell Richards (1985), Professor Compton Bourne (1996) and Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie (2001). They were all dedicated Principals who were committed to serving our institution and region. Interestingly, I see this altruism in you, our staff, our retirees and graduates and I hope that you will continue to build on this tradition of giving back, imparting your experiences and expertise to the younger generation. I hope our graduates view our Campus as a second home and return often, and I know many of you have been here before, as undergraduate students. Thanks for your faith in us.
As we enter our new strategic plan initiative (2012-2017), I look forward to working alongside you all to ensure that we continue to develop this great University, this West Indian tradition, all in the service of the peoples of the Caribbean.
This is the 50th year of our independent Charter as a Regional University – another milestone for The UWI.
Professor Clement Sankat
Pro-Vice Chancellor & Campus Principal