News Releases

Rex Nettleford honoured for his cultural contributions

For Release Upon Receipt - June 9, 2009

St. Augustine

“Life is long distance running, not sprinting.” These words of advice were among many offered by International cultural icon, Professor Rex Nettleford, as he received the The Chancellor’s Award from The University of The West Indies (UWI). Nettleford was honoured at a ceremony held on Friday 24th April at Daaga Auditorium, UWI, St. Augustine Campus. The ceremony was hosted by UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne, members of the diplomatic corps and Government Ministers. As was only fitting, this event proved to be a cultural treat, as it featured The Lydian singers, dancers, steelpan music and tassa drums, under the capable direction of Pat Bishop.

In an acceptance speech that touched on a myriad of topics, Nettleford even managed to squeeze in an “appeal to my university colleagues to double their efforts, work harder than many of us admittedly now tend to do, to bring to our students (the next generation) the caring and compassion which a true centre of learning must afford its wards, and foster the sense and sensibility that will have the region fully prepared to engage the globalised challenges no one of us can handle on one’s own”. He also expressed his “deepest appreciation, humility and gratitude” at receiving this prestigious award and explained that he owed a lot to “this flagship Caribbean institution of growth and instrument of development”.

Often touted as one of the region’s leaders in the performing arts, Nettleford was honoured for his immeasurable contribution to cultural development in the region. This well-known Caribbean scholar, trade union educator, social and cultural historian and political analyst is the founder, artistic director and principal choreographer of the internationally acclaimed National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica. A former Rhodes Scholar, he is a Vice Chancellor Emeritus of UWI, and was responsible for introducing the Cultural Studies Initiative which has attracted postgraduate scholars since its inception in 1996.

Given his extensive list of achievements it’s no surprise that Nettleford wholeheartedly believes that “sustained professional application is the surest guarantee of excellence”. Professor Nettleford has served the region in many capacities and continues to do so as editor of Caribbean Quarterly Journal, the region’s oldest journal. Additionally, he has served on several international bodies concerning intercultural development and academic scholarship, such as UNESCO and The Organistaion of American States (OAS). To date, Professor Nettleford has been the recipient of numerous awards including Caricom’s highest award – the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC). In his address, Nettleford urged all to recognise that ‘the real resources of our regional university lie in the people who teach, conduct research and reach out to the wider society which it was set up to serve’. Undoubtedly Rex Nettleford will continue to serve his country, his region and world of cultural arts.

For more UWI news, please visit our official news website at


The Chancellor’s medal is a special Award of Distinction made by the Chancellor of The University of the West Indies to a person who has made a signal, substantial and lasting contribution to the welfare and development of The UWI. It is also awarded to persons who have enabled The University of the West Indies to gain access to significant resources for the achievement of its mission: delivering to the region quality higher education through teaching, outreach and research, and thereby facilitating the Caribbean’s growth and development.


Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.