News Releases

UWI Vice-Chancellor meets with CDB President and stakeholders on Caribbean Post-COVID Economy

For Release Upon Receipt - August 11, 2021


The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Wednesday, August 11, 2021—Deeply concerned about the combination of public health, financial and climate crises currently facing the Caribbean, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is advancing the discourse on solutions with regional stakeholders.

According to UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, “It is a time like no other in modern history and it calls for urgent measures to stimulate economic diversification, job creation, enhanced competitiveness and human development for more inclusive and resilient societies.” 

On Thursday 12 August, 2021, Vice-Chancellor Beckles, will lead a discussion with the new President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Gene Leon, alongside senior UWI executives, student leaders and representatives from the public and private sectors who serve on various UWI committees.  

This forum is the first of a series of engagements which seeks to strengthen alignment between the strategic priorities of the Caribbean region’s development bank and the region’s leading university, in support of innovative solutions, new development approaches and large-scale investments in the economic, digital and social transformations that are critical to the Caribbean’s post-COVID recovery. 

The UWI is proud to host President Leon during his first visit to Jamaica as CDB head.  The sixth President of the regional development finance institution based in Barbados, Dr. Leon assumed office on May 4, 2021. He has over 30 years of experience in economic development and has directed macroeconomic and financial policy support to government authorities in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and the Caribbean.  He worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for more than 24 years, serving as Mission Chief for Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, The Bahamas, and the Gulf States of Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, as well as IMF’s Senior Resident Representative in Jamaica and Nigeria. Prior to his engagement with the IMF, Dr. Leon was an Associate Professor at State University of New York at Old Westbury in the United States. He has also served as Director of Research at the Central Bank of Barbados and Country Economist at CDB. 

Dr. Leon holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Economics from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom (UK) and a Bachelor of Science Degree (B.Sc.) in Economics from the University of London also in the U.K. 

CDB and The UWI have ongoing partnerships that support the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and in 2018 signed an MOU with the aim of promoting institutional strengthening and evidence-based decision making for economic and social policy issues relevant to the Caribbean region. Thursday’s meeting will facilitate the identification of possible collaborations that could help address development issues facing the region. 


About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies; the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ); The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development; The UWI-Coventry Institute for Industry-Academic Partnership with the University of Coventry and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of Glasgow.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018 and 2019, then top 20 in 2020. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit

 (Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)