News Releases

UWI Vice Chancellor named new UNICA President and presents Associationís declaration on Haiti

For Release Upon Receipt - March 19, 2010

St. Augustine

Following the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Universities and Research Institutions of the Caribbean (UNICA) on March 16 2010, the Association announced the appointment of UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor E. Nigel Harris as the new President of UNICA.

In a post-AGM Media Briefing at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel, Professor Harris in his capacity as UNICA President presented the UNICA Communiqué which outlined the Association’s recommitment to the development of the tertiary education sector in Haiti through advocacy in national, regional and international fora for financial support for  higher education; the development of practical interventions to assist affected Haitian students and faculty; support for capacity building interventions to facilitate sustainable development; and the provision of expertise and experience for reconstruction and development efforts based on the needs articulated by the people of Haiti. The new UNICA president also stated that a task force consisting of representatives of members of UNICA was established to identify, rationalise and prioritise interventions proposed by participants during the Conference, and an action agenda is to be developed for presentation to national, regional and international organisations by April 15, 2010.

According to Professor Harris, “There is legitimate concern that the response to the reconstruction of Haiti will be fragmented and not linked to the wishes of the Haitian people, themselves. In planning our intervention, we therefore recognize that our contribution must be focused and guided by the Haitian community. We are concentrating on the rebuilding of the tertiary education sector because we believe that Haiti’s recovery and repositioning will be very dependent on the expansion of its human knowledge resources and expertise. We have invited our Haitian colleagues to participate in these two days of meetings to share with us their critical perspectives on the way forward.”

Also speaking at the briefing was Professor Wilson Laleau Vice Rector, Academic Affairs, Université d’Etat d’Haiti, who expressed sincere thanks to UNICA on behalf of the people of Haiti, for its assistance and commitment to rebuilding the nation.  Other speakers at the Media Briefing included Professor Nivia Fernandez Hernandez of the University of Puerto Rico who represented outgoing UNICA president Dr. Ramon de la Torre; and Dr. Matthew Smith of the Department of History and Archaeology, UWI Mona, who was appointed Head of the UNICA-Haiti Response taskforce.

The declaration on Haiti was the culmination of the two days of UNICA meetings, hosted by The University of the West Indies. The UNICA conference, “Partnering for Sustainability” was held on March 15 2010 at the UWI Institute of Critical Thinking, St. Augustine and focused specifically on mobilizing Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes to partner with Haiti in the rebuilding effort, with an emphasis on its tertiary sector. The conference and AGM were attended by representatives of UNICA member institutions including The University of Puerto Rico; The University of the West Indies; University of the Netherland Antilles; Anton De Kom University of Suriname; Universidad Latinomericana y del Caribe; University of the Virgin Islands; Instituto de Estudios Caribenos; In Dame, Université Craraibe and Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede San Andrés.The Organization of American States and the Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute were also represented.

For more information on the UNICA conference and Annual General Meeting, please contact The Marketing and Communications Office at (868) 662-2002 Ext. 2013, 2014.

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Notes to the Editor:


Founded in 1967, The Association of Universities and Research Institutions of the Caribbean fosters cooperation among the higher education institutions in the Caribbean region. UNICA is an independent, voluntary organization that facilitates academic contacts and promotes collaborative projects involving institutions and academicians from across the entire region. UNICA supports the regionalization of higher education in the Caribbean and each year the Association gathers the highest rank officials of the universities in the Caribbean region to participate in its Annual General Meeting.


About UWI

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, consisting of four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and the new Open Campus. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 100 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate certificate, diploma and degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences. As an icon of Caribbean integration and culture, UWI remains committed to enhancing every aspect of Caribbean development and improving the well-being of the people of the Caribbean.