News Releases

UWI, SUNY Strengthen Collaboration Marine Studies, Cardiovascular Health Projects get A-grade

For Release Upon Receipt - February 13, 2015


The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the State University of New York (SUNY) have signed an agreement to further strengthen their relationship amidst gains from joint projects in areas such as marine studies and cardiovascular health, already recorded.

The Vice Chancellor of the UWI, Prof. E. Nigel Harris and Carl McCall, Chairman, SUNY Board of Trustees, today (5-2-15) reiterated their commitment to strengthening the relationship begun in 2013, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between UWI and SUNY, which provides the framework for new collaboration.

Noting that the SUNY system encompasses 64 institutions with a total of 463,000 students and 7,500 degree programmes across New York State, the VC said the “UWI which covers 16 countries in the Caribbean is the largest university system in the region, is looking for possibilities for growth and funding.”

Vice Chancellor Harris said that “the UWI is seeking to leverage what we are doing in the Caribbean with what is taking place in the USA.  We have significant synergies with SUNY in marine studies and open or distance education.  We have a Seismic Research Centre in Trinidad and SUNY has an Earthquake Centre.”

Carl McCall, Chair, SUNY Board of Trustees said that “the emerging partnership” between SUNY and the UWI had benefitted greatly from “the visionary and dedicated leadership of Prof. Harris.”

“In New York we have large constituents of Caribbean people who make outstanding contributions to the USA and there is a lot of work being done in the Caribbean that is of interest and relevant to them,” the SUNY Chair noted.

Presenting reports on UWI/SUNY projects already implemented, Prof. Dale Webber, Director of the Centre of Marine Sciences, UWI; Dr. Marshall Tulloch Reid and Dr. Ishtar Govia of the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI) and Dr. Tannecia Stephenson, Lecturer in the Department of Physics, reported on work in their respective areas.

Dr. Webber said that the Centre had developed with SUNY’s Stony Brook University a course on “Marine Invasive Alien Species” which would look at the waters around the Caribbean and NYC and could be offered across many campuses.  Student exchanges are also planned.

The TMRI has begun gathering quantitative data from local populations and Caribbean migrants in the USA and is working closely with other UWI campuses, SUNY’s Buffalo and Brooklyn Universities, in gathering primary data from focus groups and collating existing literature that will assist in the management and treatment of cardio vascular diseases and related illnesses like diabetes.

Dr. Stephenson said that discussions were advanced on sources of funding and the co-authoring of a journal on Caribbean climate and projections for the future.

Meanwhile, the UWI/SUNY agreement came in for high praise from the Vice Chancellor designate of the UWI, Sir Hillary Beckles and the Assistant Vice Chancellor Global Affairs SUNY, Sally Crimmins Villela.

Sir Hilary said, “The future is in the moment.”  Congratulating VC Nigel Harris and the team at Mona for the work already done with SUNY he said there was scope “to take the partnership beyond projects.  With concern across the region that “the development thrust of the Caribbean has slowed, UWI as the driver of nation building will work to build out institutions to sustain and surround these important projects.”

Mrs. Crimmins Villela said “we want to ensure our graduates are prepared for global careers – in a linguistic sense and a cultural sense.  A Stony Brook student who comes to the UWI Marine Lab, is sure to have a totally different perspective from one who does not have that opportunity.”

Areas for collaboration to be explored under the expanded UWI/SUNY agreement include agro-technologies and food security, information and communication technology (ICT convergent applications), cultural industries and the arts, history and Africana studies and pharmacy.

The implementation of the research and instructional projects supported by seed funds already jointly allocated by the UWI and SUNY, will remain at the core of the relationship and the two institutions will work together to seek external support for similar research initiatives and projects and to ensure their sound management.



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 Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad 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.)