News Releases

St. Augustine takes 4 of 7 honours at UWIís regional Vice-Chancellorís Awards for Excellence

For Release Upon Receipt - October 16, 2015

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine took 4 of the 7 awards at this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. In his first year as host of the annual awards, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI Professor Sir Hilary Beckles presented the awards at a ceremony which took place yesterday, October 15, at the Cave Hill Campus’ Roy Marshall Teaching Complex.

The 4 awardees from the St. Augustine Campus were Professor Hariharan Seetharaman of the Department of Clinical Surgical Sciences for Outstanding Research Accomplishments; Professor Surendra Arjoon of the Faculty of Social Sciences for All-round Excellence in Teaching and Research Accomplishments; Dr Sandra Gift, Head of the Quality Assurance Unit, for Service to the University Community; and Professor Patricia Mohammed, Campus Coordinator, School for Graduate Studies and Research and Head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, for All-round Excellence in Research Accomplishments and Service to the University Community.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal of The UWI St. Augustine, Professor Clement Sankat extended hearty congratulations to the awardees saying “I am extremely proud of all colleagues who won this prestigious award throughout the region. As St. Augustine Campus Principal, I cannot help but be even more delighted that 4 of my campus colleagues were in this stellar group. They have all contributed to the well-being of the university and our wider community and are great exemplars of what scholars should be.”

A University tradition for more than 20 years, the awards recognise and reward outstanding performance in Teaching, Research Accomplishments, Service to University Community, Contributions to Public Service, and All-round Excellence in a combination of two or more of the four core areas. In the 2012 to 2013 academic year, a departmental award was added to recognise quality, service and operational excellence. 

The 2015 honourees also included: Professor Michael Taylor of the Department of Physics at the Mona Campus for Outstanding Research Accomplishments; Professor Byron Wilson, of the Department of Life Sciences at the Mona Campus for All-round Excellence in Research Accomplishments and Public Service; and the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), Faculty of Science and Technology at Cave Hill Campus for the Departmental Award for Excellence.

Commenting on the awards, VC Beckles - who is also the first recipient of inaugural Outstanding Research Accomplishments category - noted, "This event is viewed as the premier celebration of excellence within the wider university community and beyond recognising as it does rigorous peer assessment of academic distinction and performance brilliance across the ocean of our academy. Individuals, networks and institutions are identified, reviewed, and recommendations made within a process known and accepted for its scrutiny of submissions and ingenuity of judgment."

For more about the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, visit:



About the honourees:

Professor Hariharan Seetharaman, Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Clinical Surgical Sciences, St Augustine Campus

Outstanding Research Accomplishments

In addition to his clinical and teaching commitments, Professor Hariharan Seetharaman dedicates substantial time to research and has been published in numerous peer-reviewed high impact factor journals. His keen interest in developing innovative models for performance measurement of healthcare units including ICUs, has led him to pioneer work in the area of healthcare management. While his primary academic research focus is the performance of healthcare units and quality improvement, he has conducted expansive research in other areas including critical care, medical ethics, general surgery and health economics. Outside of his medical qualifications, Professor Seetharaman has successfully defended and completed his PhD research thesis in economics and is awaiting the award of the degree.


Professor Michael Taylor, Head, Department of Physics, Mona Campus

Outstanding Research Accomplishments

Professor Michael Taylor’s general areas of academic specialisation are environmental physics, climate variability, climatology and climate change. He is well known for undertaking the study of Caribbean climate variability and climate change at a time when studies devoted to the region were largely led by persons outside the region. Among his wide repertoire of publishing accomplishments, is a book authored earlier this year titled, Why Climate Demands Change. His UWI grantsmanship record totals several million dollars. In May 2015, he played the lead role in securing a US$10.4 million grant for the Mona Campus. Although his scholarly work has reached regional and international impact, his personal philosophy is that research is as much about the people whose lives you interact with in the course of doing so.


Professor Surendra Arjoon, Professor of Business and Professional Ethics. Head, Department of Management Studies, Department of Management Studies, St. Augustine Campus

All-Round Excellence Award in the combined areas of Teaching and Research Accomplishments

Professor Surendra Arjoon’s research, teaching and practice in ethics are all integrated. He has pioneered both research and teaching in the areas of business and professional ethics at The University of the West Indies and is internationally recognised for his work. With a philosophy of ‘contributing and quietly moving on’, he has helped prepare hundreds of students to be independent learners; problem-solvers; logical, inquiring, creative thinkers; team players with well-developed skills in self-directed, life-long learning. In 2012, Professor Arjoon was the winner of a UWI/Guardian Life Premium Teaching Award.


Dr Sandra Gift, Senior Programme Officer, Quality Assurance Unit, St. Augustine Campus

Outstanding Service to the University Community  

Dr Sandra Gift’s leadership is demonstrated in her execution of core duties and additional responsibilities to support the pursuit of institutional excellence. Within the regional Quality Assurance Unit, she has long played a lead role in building awareness among The UWI community and external stakeholders on quality in higher education issues. Dr Gift successfully led the St. Augustine Campus’ inaugural and historic institutional accreditation exercise involving six self-study working groups and internal and external stakeholder consultations. She cultivated general awareness of the importance of institutional accreditation while securing the Campus’ accreditation for a seven-year period – the maximum time possible.


Professor Patricia Mohammed, Head and Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, St. Augustine Campus 

All-round Excellence in two or more core areas (Research Accomplishments and Service to the University Community

Professor Patricia Mohammed leads two interdisciplinary academic fields and has successfully introduced a gender perspective into Caribbean Cultural Studies, generating an original body of work in visual studies and visual intelligence in and of the region. She has consistently advanced knowledge in these fields, shaped research agendas, influenced curriculum offerings, supported graduate students and impacted policy locally, regionally and internationally, and has enhanced the reputation of The University of the West Indies.


Professor Byron Wilson, Professor, Herpetology & Conservation Ecology, Department of Life Sciences, Mona Campus

All-round Excellence in two or more core areas (Research Accomplishments and Public Service)

While Professor Byron Wilson has a proven record of leadership in research, his efforts to document and conserve Jamaica’s biodiversity also constitute an exceptional contribution to public service. Over the last five years, Professor Wilson has displayed outstanding productivity in all categories of research output: authorship of books and journals, special issues, editor/series editor and conference presentations. His research and service activities also positively impact the island’s unique biodiversity. Since 2009, he has earned over US$900,000 in local and international research funding; a total of about US$1.5 million since joining the Department in 2001.


The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), Faculty of Science and Technology, Cave Hill Campus

The VC’s Departmental Award for Excellence  

The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) promotes and facilitates sustainable development in the Caribbean and beyond through graduate education; applied research in natural resource and environmental management; innovative and collaborative projects; professional training and building capacity of decision-makers; and involvement in the national, regional and global initiatives that shape the Caribbean’s future. It also provides advisory services to governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. A Quality Assurance Review in 2014 concluded that ‘CERMES is currently a key institution of environmental teaching, research, consultancy and project activity in the Caribbean region’.  It was clear from the review process that CERMES is one of the premier institutions within The University of the West Indies and should be recognised as a centre of excellence within the University fraternity.

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.)