News Releases

21 Honorary Degrees at The UWI Graduation Ceremonies

For Release Upon Receipt - June 1, 2015


The University of the West Indies, Vice-Chancellery: 21 honorary degrees will be awarded at the 2015 graduation ceremonies of The University of the West Indies (The UWI). The 21 individuals to be conferred comprise four at the Cave Hill Campus, seven at the Mona Campus, two at the Open Campus, and eight at the St. Augustine Campus.

The following awardees will receive honorary doctorates in recognition of their stellar contributions to Caribbean development:  


Ms Pamela Coke Hamilton  LLD

Mr Stephen D. R. McNamara                            LLD

Sir David A. C. Simmons, KA, BCH, QC, LLM      LLD

Mr Ralph S. Williams                                     DSc



Dr the Honourable Lloyd Barnett, OJ                 LLD

The Honourable Hugh Hart, OJ                        LLD                            

Mrs Alfarita “Rita” Marley, OD                         DLitt

Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris                     DLitt

Mr Denis O’Brien                                          LLD

Professor Emeritus Sir Geoff Palmer, OBE, PhD, DSc, FRSM       DSc

Ambassador Burchell Whiteman, OJ                  LLD



Mr David Samuel Brandt                                  LLD

Ambassador A. Missouri Sherman-Peter               LLD



Mr Gérard A. Besson, HBM                               DLitt

Mr Hollis R. Charles                                       DSc

Justice Ralph Narine                                       LLD

Mrs Jean Angela Permanand                             LLD

Mr Rajkumar “Krishna” Persad, NKR, HBM           DLitt

Mr David Rudder                                           DLitt

Mr A. Norman Sabga                                      DLitt

Dr Marjorie Thorpe                                         DLitt

At The UWI’s Annual Business Meeting held in April, The University Council accepted the recommendation to award honorary degrees to the 21 individuals for their outstanding achievements and service to the region in their respective fields.  The UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne will confer the degrees at UWI graduation exercises during the months of October and November 2015. As is customary, one of the honorary graduands will address the audience at each of the ceremonies. 

The Open Campus will be the first of the four campuses to host its graduation ceremony on Saturday, October 10. At the Cave Hill Campus, the ceremony takes place on October 17; followed by the St Augustine Campus ceremonies from October 22 to 24; and the Mona Campus graduation ceremonies from October 30-31.

Campus Marketing & Communications Offices will provide, more information on the speakers, dates, times and other campus specific, graduation related activities in due course.



About the Honorary Graduands


Cave Hill Campus

Pamela Coke Hamilton

Pamela Coke Hamilton is the Executive Director of Caribbean Export Development Agency and serves as CARICOM’s expert consultant on international trade policy.  A leading Caribbean trade negotiator, development thinker, activist and a senior trade lawyer, she secured funding that enabled the establishment of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services that has produced more than 300 graduates in trade policy and law.

Among her international and regional experience have been the Organisation of American States where she served as Director of Trade, Tourism and Competitiveness and the Inter-American Development Bank as Regional Hub Coordinator for the Caribbean in Integration and Trade.

Ms Coke Hamilton has a BSc (Honours) with a major in International Relations/Economics from The University of the West Indies and graduated from Georgetown University School of Law in 1997.


Stephen D. McNamara       

Mr Stephen D. Mc Namara is an Attorney-at-Law by profession and Chairman of Sagicor Life Insurance Company, the Sagicor Financial Group. He is a senior partner of McNamara & Company, Attorneys-at-Law of Saint Lucia, a Director of Saint Lucia Electricity Services and was Chairman of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board from 1989 to 1997.

Under his leadership, this Caribbean insurance group has not only survived these global economic events, but with Caribbean commitment also significantly contributed to regional development in areas such as sport and community.


Sir David Anthony Simmons, BCH, KA

Sir David Simmons entered the Faculty of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1960 and graduated with an LL.B. degree in 1963. He was awarded an LL.M. degree in 1965. Sir David lectured in law in London until his return to Barbados in 1970. After an outstanding legal career in Barbados, he was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1984.

He served continuously for 25 years in the Parliament of Barbados.  Twice he served as Attorney-General of Barbados; first, from 1985 to 1986, and from 1994 to 2001, when he retired from active politics. He assumed office as the 12th Chief Justice of Barbados in January 2002. Sir David served as Chairman of the Preparatory Committee to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (1999-2001) and was first Chairman of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (2003-2004).

In 2001, for his contribution to public service, law and politics, he was awarded the Barbados Centennial Honour, and Barbados' highest national honour, Knight of St. Andrew. In 2006, Sir David was elected as an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln's Inn. He is currently Chairman of the Integrity Commission in Turks and Caicos and Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 coup attempt in Trinidad and Tobago.


Ralph S. Williams

Ralph Williams is the founder and chairman of Williams Industries, a successful Pan Caribbean conglomerate that employs over 1,000 persons, and is the largest producer of renewable energy in the Caribbean south of Puerto Rico. He has developed an award winning compensation system that shares the benefits derived from the activities of his companies with all those who contribute to the creation of the benefits. His entrepreneurial skills and ability to expand and control a wide ranging mix of companies, gained him the 2000 Ernst & Young Caribbean Entrepreneur of the Year award, followed by the 2001 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Award for multiple Business Creation.

Mr Williams has an honours degree in Electrical Engineering from The University of the West Indies and was awarded the Barbados Gold Crown of Merit in 2002 for his outstanding contribution to business and industry.


Mona Campus

Dr the Honourable Lloyd George Barnett, OJ

Dr Lloyd Barnett has achieved excellence in the field of Law and holds the BA, LLB, LLM and PhD degrees from the University of London. He is a member of Lincoln’s Inn and was called to the bar in 1960. He has practised law with distinction in the region – as Crown Counsel in the offices of the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions in Jamaica and, since 1967, at the private bar.

A pioneer in public interest litigation, he has led or participated in many constitutional law or human rights cases that have had profound impact on the constitutional and human rights laws of the Commonwealth Caribbean. He is the author of Constitutional Law of Jamaica, one of the best monographs on Anglophone Caribbean law. One of the first adjunct lecturers, in 1970 he was appointed Honorary Lecturer in the then newly established Faculty of Law of The University of the West Indies. He has been a member of the Caribbean Council of Legal Education for 44 years, since 1971.

In 1999, Dr Barnett was awarded a national honour, the Order of Jamaica, for outstanding contribution to jurisprudence and legal education in the region.


Hon Hugh Cecil Edmund Hart, OJ

One of Jamaica’s most respected lawyers, the Hon Hugh Hart is a graduate of Queen’s College, Oxford, where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in Law. A member of Gray’s Inn, he was called to the Bar in 1953 and admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica in 1956. His law firm practises commercial law, primarily in the areas of taxation, real estate, mining and corporate restructuring.

Following the eruption of violence in Jamaica in the 1980 general elections, Hugh Hart along with Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart acted as go-between the two leaders in the subsequent election to minimise any violence that threated to flare up among the supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party and the People’s National Party.

In 1980 the Government of Jamaica appointed him Executive Chairman to the country’s energy and mining companies. Three years later, he became Minister of Mining and Energy and, in 1983, the Tourism portfolio was added. Mr Hart served as Senator in the Jamaican Parliament from 1972 to 1993. He received the national honour, the Order of Jamaica, in 2011 for outstanding service to the bauxite and alumina industry and the legal profession.


Rita Marley, OD

Mrs Rita Marley continues to make invaluable contributions to the Jamaican music industry as singer, producer, performer and entrepreneur. She has built a globally recognised empire with members of the Marley family and, by extension, the spread and reach of Brand Jamaica as a related and intertwined category.

Her music career includes noteworthy contributions to the industry, such as her Grammy-nominated album We Must Carry On. Her philanthropic outreach includes the adoption of 35 children in Ethiopia, work in the Methodist schools of Ghana as well as medical and food contributions to several homes for the aged globally. In Jamaica, the Rita Marley Foundation works with students to provide intellectual guidance and assistance with school supplies. Her business and other charitable outreach include the founding and chairing of organisations such as the Bob Marley Foundation, the Rita Marley Foundation, the Bob Marley Museum and the Marley Group of Companies.

She was the recipient of the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica in 1996 and received Honorary Ghanaian citizenship in 2013.


Professor Emeritus Mervyn Eustace Morris

Professor Mervyn Morris’ long record of excellence in scholarship, creative writing, teaching, administration and public service has made him more than a UWI icon and ideal graduate. Author of six collections of poetry, he is widely recognised as an important Caribbean poet with a distinctive elegant, ironic and minimalist style that gives a spare and austere rendering of core human experiences.

Professor Morris has published numerous essays and three books on West Indian literature and has edited 18 books ranging across all major literary genres. An enabler and facilitator of new writers, Professor Morris also pioneered the academic study of Louise Bennett’s work and the dub poetry of Michael Smith, Oku Onuora, Jean Binta Breeze and Mutabaruka.

He has a BA from the University College of the West Indies and a BA and MA from Oxford University and is the recipient of national and international accolades for his work. These include the prestigious award of Poet Laureate of Jamaica in 2014, the Order of Merit in 2009 and a Silver Musgrave Medal for Poetry in 1976.


Denis O’Brien

Denis O’Brien graduated with an Arts degree from University College, Dublin and received an MBA in corporate finance from Boston College. In 1982 he was given an honorary doctorate by University College. This self-made man began his entrepreneurial career in the telecoms sector before branching out in to other areas from newspapers, radio, property, aircraft leasing to golf courses.

Outside of his extensive business interests, Mr O’Brien chaired the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland with teams from 160 countries and more than 30,000 volunteers. A former recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Mr O’Brien is now Chairman of its Judging Panel. He is Chairman and Co-Founder of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders which works to ensure that the standards set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders are known, respected and adhered to worldwide. In 2000, he established the Iris O’Brien Foundation to identify and assist projects in Ireland and internationally which seek to alleviate disadvantaged communities. He is presently building 150 schools that will benefit 600 students in Haiti.


Professor Emeritus Sir Godfrey Oliver Palmer (OBE)

Sir Godfrey Palmer is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2011, he became the first and only black professor in Scotland. He has a degree in botany from Leicester University and a joint PhD in grain science and technology from Heriot-Watt College and Edinburgh University.

Palmer specialises in grain science and has written a textbook on the subject entitled Cereal Science and Technology. He is the inventor of the Barley Abrasion process, and has developed a simple method to detect pre-germination in cereal grains. In 2008, Palmer became the fourth and only European individual to be honoured with the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) Award for distinction in scientific research and good citizenship.

In recognition of his work and achievements in the field of grain science, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2003 and knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to human rights, science, and charity.


Ambassador Burchell A. Whiteman, OJ

Burchell Whiteman has made a significant contribution for more than 40 years in the fields of education, politics and social development.

Mr. Whiteman’s first degree is from the University College of the West Indies/University of London in 1958 and then read for a Master’s of Education at Birmingham University in England. He has devoted his life to public service in Jamaica.

Burchell Whiteman started his professional career as a teacher, ending as a principal. He began a new career as a politician in 1989 when he was first elected as a Member of the Jamaican Parliament and served in various ministerial capacities. In 2007, one year after retiring from active politics, he was appointed Jamaica's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, until 2009. In 2006, he was awarded the Order of Jamaica for his outstanding contribution to Education and the Legislature and named an Honorary Fellow of the Commonwealth of Learning "for his contribution to Jamaica as an innovative and highly respected educator and politician, and for his continuing contribution to the Commonwealth of Learning as a thoughtful, experienced and committed member of its Board of Governors."


Open Campus

David Samuel Brandt LLB LLM

In the midst of the 1997 volcanic devastation, David Samuel Brandt assumed the position of Chief Minister of Montserrat. He tirelessly represented the Montserratian cause to the British Government and was able to secure considerable development capital for the island. He retired from active politics in 2001. As a member of the Legislative Council of Montserrat, he won a seat in every election since his first attempt in 1983.

Mr Brandt obtained his Law degree from The University of the West Indies (Cave Hill Campus), his Certificate in Legal Education from the Sir Hugh Wooding Law School (St Augustine Campus) and a Master of Law from the University of London.  His legal practice concentrates in corporate, civil and criminal law.

David Brandt’s commitment to education was not insignificant and he exhibited special enthusiasm on behalf of his alma mater, The University of the West Indies, securing funding from the British to rebuild in part The University’s branch in Montserrat and represented the Montserrat Chapter of The UWI pro bono whenever the need arose.

He was one of 10 Montserratians recognised as outstanding UWI Graduates at a Gala Awards banquet which marked The University’s 60th anniversary in 2008.


Ambassador Angela Missouri Sherman-Peter, CARICOM Permanent Observer to the United Nations

Ambassador Sherman-Peter has an outstanding and distinguished career as a diplomat, provides singular service to The University of the West Indies, and is a respected senior government representative in her country, the Bahamas.

An accomplished former Bahamas diplomat and senior public official, Ambassador Sherman-Peter has more than 38 years’ experience in diplomacy, public service, international organisations and executive management. Her leadership positions have included Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Special Envoy; Chef de Cabinet to the President of the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly; High Commissioner, Consul General – to name just a few. She also served as Assistant Director/Special Adviser in the Political Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London from 1994-1997.

Ambassador Sherman-Peter has a BA in History (Special Honours) from The University of the West Indies, a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York. Her specialty areas include crime prevention and criminal justice with focus on international narcotics control and gender affairs. In 2013 she was the recipient of the Pelican Award from The UWI Alumni Association – New York Chapter, in recognition of outstanding career and accomplishments in diplomacy and public service.


St. Augustine Campus

Gérard A. Besson

Gérard A. Besson is founder of Paria Publishing which, to date, has published and produced well over 80 titles on the history and culture of Trinidad and Tobago and is engaged in the production of corporate publications, company histories, advertising campaigns, annual reports, as well as content for a wide variety of organisations in the Caribbean region.

A former director of the National Museum, Mr Besson contributed to the establishment of a library at the President’s House at the time of the presidency of His Excellency, Noor Hassanali, and was the convenor of the cabinet-appointed work group occasioned by the centenary anniversary of Tobago becoming a ward of the unified colony of Trinidad and Tobago, 1887-1987. As an expert consultant, he helped establish several specialised museums, among which are the Angostura Museum, the City of Port-of-Spain Museum and the Police Service Museum.

A published historian and folklorist, he has written numerous newspaper articles, has an internet blog on history and heritage and has published two historical novels.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago awarded him the Hummingbird Medal (Gold) for Heritage Preservation and Promotion. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.


Hollis Raymond Charles

Hollis Charles’ accomplishments directly fostered the advancement of technological research and industry in Trinidad and Tobago and, by extension, the Caribbean region. One of The UWI’s earliest graduates in Electrical Engineering, he went on to obtain an MSc in Management from the Sloan Programme of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, USA.

Mr Charles joined the newly formed Caribbean Industrial Research Institute as founding co-Director. As the first local Director for the next 20 years, he was responsible for developing CARIRI into what became recognised as one of the foremost multi-disciplinary technological institutions in the developing world. He is a Past President of the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries as well as the Association of Professional Engineers of Trinidad and Tobago.


Justice Ralph Narine, CMT

Justice Ralph Narine graduated as a Barrister in London in 1952 and later served for 35 years in Trinidad and Tobago as a Lawyer and Judge. In addition to his professional life, Justice Narine was an astute sportsman in cricket and volleyball and a notable musician, playing the mandolin and violin in an Indian orchestra. He was a founding member of the National Council for Indian Culture in 1964.

His appointments to State boards and committees dealt with a host of matters including sports administration, the operations of the Port Authority, Justice of the Peace and the Integrity Commission. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago presented him with a National Award, the Chaconia Medal (Gold) for public service in 1988.


Justice Jean Angela Permanand, CMT

A former Judge of the Appeal Court of Trinidad and Tobago, Justice Jean Permanand began her career in Law from 1962 when she had her own private practice. She was appointed Senior Counsel in 1981, Solicitor-General in 1980-1982 and acted as Chief Justice during the period 2001/2002.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago presented her with the Chaconia Medal (Gold) in 2003 for long and meritorious service to the country. In 2009, she was elected President of the Commonwealth Law Reform Agencies.  Among her many appointments, she has served on the Integrity Commission, chaired the Committee to review mediation in Criminal Matters as well as the Committee to review the Appointment Process of Senior Counsel.


Rajkumar “Krishna” Persad, HBM

Rajkumar Persad has been steadfast in his promotion of Indian art and culture for more than five decades. He was the first Trinidad and Tobago national to have been awarded a scholarship by the Indian Government to study music and dance in India and received the title, ‘Natya Kala Ratna’. In 1967 he became the founder, director and choreographer of the Trinidad School of Indian Dance, the first to be established in this part of the world.

This accomplished cultural ambassador has performed and represented his country in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, South America and the Far East. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago presented him with National Award of the Humming Bird Medal in 1969 and then many years later it again recognised him as an ‘Icon’.


David Rudder

More so than any other local artiste, David Rudder has been recognised internationally for his integration and capture of the essence of Trinidad and Tobago’s multicultural society through his music. His music, which blends pop, jazz, blues, calypso, has been considered a bridge between modern pop and World Beat Music.

Mr Rudder’s lyrical prowess has been recognised, acclaimed, studied and evaluated by academics such as Professors Kenneth Ramchand and Gordon Rohlehr. Renditions such as ‘Ganges meets the Nile’, ‘Hosay’, ‘The Power of the Glory’, ‘High Mas’ have been given significant respect for their impact in further inculcating all facets of the country’s social fabric into song.

David Rudder’s work in the performing arts has been well documented.  His sterling contribution has projected the image of Trinidad and Tobago in a positive way on the world stage.


A. Norman Sabga

Norman Sabga is the Chairman and Chief Executive of the ANSA McAL Group, one of the largest and most diversified conglomerates in the Caribbean with some 6,000 employees. He was educated at the Red Rice College in the United Kingdom and then at Fordham University in the United States.

A leading entrepreneur, he has been pivotal in the expansion of the group’s business through St. Kitt’s, Grenada, Barbados, Guyana and the United States and made significant headway into introducing new commodities and business models in the region.


Dr Marjorie Thorpe

Dr Marjorie Thorpe holds bachelor, masters and PhD degrees in English, a post-graduate diploma in Mediation. She is a graduate of McGill University and Queen’s College – both of Canada – and The University of the West Indies.

A former University Dean and Deputy, Dr Thorpe pioneered the introduction of the first Women and Development Studies at The UWI in 1985 and published many selected articles. She has held appointments as the Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago Public Service Commission and also the Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago Board of the Defence Force. She served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations from 1988-1992; after which she was appointed Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women in New York, a position she held until 1995. She then held the post of Resident Coordinator of the UN System Operational Activities for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and UNDP Resident Representative for the same area until 1999.



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 fully-fledged, regional University with over 50,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with three physical campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus. The UWI serves 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. The UWI’s faculty and students come from more than 40 countries and The University has collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. The 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.



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