May 2018

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On April 27, our Chancellor, Mr. Robert Bermudez, presided over his first University Council Meeting as Chairman. As he addressed the issue of the University’s challenges in the current economic times, he gave a timely reassurance that had particular resonance for me. He reminded representatives of the regional governments of The UWI contributing countries as well as The UWI faculty, staff, and student representation that, while the ‘University has faced many serious challenges in its 70 years, each event has seen it triumph over adversity.’

So it is with a certain sense of pride that that I invite you to peruse this edition of UWI TODAY where you will see the ample proof of how well we – as a University and, particularly, as a Campus – have triumphed as a development tool for peoples of the Caribbean.

The St. Augustine Campus, like the other three Campuses of this regional university, has had to make critical shifts in focus as it navigates a prolonged testing season at an institutional level. Our vision for creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is a major response to the changing mandate for education, declining economies, and the need for strategic but practical approaches to revitalizing the Caribbean.

Eleanor “Nell” Watson, writer, engineer and entrepreneur, was our guest speaker at a Distinguished Open Lecture on Artificial Intelligence and Education. Some may fear the burgeoning use of artificial intelligence in all elements of our lives with the potential loss of our very humanity; others may exalt it in recognition of the boundless possibilities that AI promises. Regardless, the fact remains that we need to prepare our students to take advantage of it in the interests of this region’s sustained development. As Nell Watson said in her lecture, “We need to be producing chefs not cooks.” This Campus’ avowed innovation agenda is absolutely in sync with this concept. It sets out that every level in our education system must incorporate that culture of innovation mentioned earlier so that we create, not simply follow, the recipe of the status quo in an independence of thought and mind.

Starring on our cover is the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago, perhaps the country’s oldest research institute, as it marks its 200th anniversary in 2018.The National Herbarium maintains an archival collection of Trinidad and Tobago’s indigenous and exotic plants with the earliest specimens dating from 1842. This amazing collection numbers more than 50,000 specimens and is continuously expanding.

In a significant community outreach initiative, the National Herbarium will join with Hillview College and the Biodiversity Society at The UWI to plant 200 trees in a re-afforestation project in the hillside of Tunapuna. I urge you to pay a visit to the National Herbarium and learn more about the immense wealth of our natural history and the dedicated work of the team there.
I know that if we in science and technology in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean are to move beyond known frontiers while keeping a moral centre, then we must look for the voice of conscience and reason in our writers, artists, creatives. Literature has long shaped civilisations, raised up and brought down political systems, and prodded us to think, often uncomfortably, beyond self-interest. Professor Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, in her professorial inaugural lecture, calls the Caribbean ‘a location of trauma’ where, two hundred years later, the legacies of colonialism and slavery are present in our very DNA and still ‘haunt’ us. How do we re-invent ourselves? We can only do so by using our inherent survival mechanisms to leapfrog over obstacles in our way even as we stay rooted in the strength of who we are. We need the philosophers and thinkers to keep us grounded.

It was in recognition of these truths that The UWI partnered in the just concluded eighth NGC Bocas Lit Fest. This literary festival once again celebrated words and ideas in their various forms, among them, ‘Cinelit’. For the second year running, UWI’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics hosted, free of charge, this innovative hybrid of film and literature on the St. Augustine Campus. Visitors were treated to 31 films from more than 22 countries, including 17 in Spanish and Portuguese. Films ranged from award-winning feature films based on the work of some of Latin America’s greatest writers, ground-breaking work by Anglophone filmmakers, to children’s animations and stirring documentaries about contemporary life. If you missed it this year, remember to put it on your calendar for 2019!
Even as the blooming of the Poui on our Campus delights the eye, it also reminds students that examinations are upon them and that the end of our 2017-2018 academic year is approaching. It may even mean that their period of study at The UWI is at an end – for the moment – and that they will be joining the ranks of over 100,000 alumni, located in every sphere of endeavour across the Caribbean and the world.

There will always be challenges to be faced. In so doing, we may not always meet immediate success. Yet, we always gain in the knowledge of going the distance and giving it our best shot. Then, like tempered steel, we rise stronger than before.


Professor Brian Copeland
Campus Principal


Campus Principal: Professor Brian Copeland
Director of Marketing and Communications: Dr. Dawn-Marie De Four-Gill
Editor: Vaneisa Baksh (Email: )

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