From the Principal

Era of Transformation

It is June, and the St Augustine Campus is in Semester 3 (also known as the Summer semester). This is the time when some students do core courses for their degree programmes, either to make up for their performances in previous semesters, or to jumpstart their progress for the semesters to come. Some of our faculties and departments also offer short and professional development courses during this period.

However, for many students this is a time of rest after completing their second semester projects and exams. Many of our regional and international students have gone home. The campus, for the most part, is quiet.

It is a wonderful time for reflection on the academic year (which officially ends on July 26), and to prepare for the year to come. The campus normally does a full review of our activities and successes at the end of the year, so I will leave that detailed retrospective for December.

In general, academic year 2023/2024 has been successful. UWI St Augustine was confronted by many formidable situations, most of which have been with us for some time, yet we continued to perform our essential service as educators, researchers, and developers of the Caribbean’s human capital, on the individual and community levels.

The campus has also been involved in the evolution of the services we provide – through the creation of new programmes, the improvement of systems, and the articulation of new operations in areas such as research and development, and commercialisation. This is exciting work with great potential. In many ways, we are paving a new future for the campus that I believe will be looked back on as one of UWI St Augustine’s eras of transformation.

In this issue of UWI TODAY, we focus on some of the steps to paving that future. Every appointment, affiliation, involvement, prize, and project create the roads that lead to the St Augustine campus of tomorrow. It is important for an organisation to develop strategic plans and have visions. It is also vital to have people – academics, staff, students, executives – who go out and do the work, and who proclaim the name of The UWI as they do.

This issue also includes an article on The UWI’s Research Cluster on Generative AI for Good Research, an initiative that includes all five UWI campuses and is meant to bring direct and tangible benefits to the Caribbean through a proper understanding and implementation of artificial intelligence. I believe this research cluster can be a model for future activities meant for the collective benefit of the region, and encapsulates the spirit of One UWI.

The UWI is one of the region’s most successful institutions, a position that gives us enormous ability and responsibility to impact the region. We have to use that power strategically, but we also must be daring. Another prime example of this is a food security initiative to cut the Caribbean's US$5 billion food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.

“The UWI will perform in an honest, caring, ethical and trustworthy manner, and will create a culture of accountability in our management practices to ensure that these values are sustained.”

On May 15, I had the pleasure of signing a memorandum of agreement as a representative of the Consortium of Universities in CARICOM Involved in Agricultural Education and Research (CUCAER) with Dr Patrick Antoine, CEO and Technical Director of CARICOM’s Private Sector Organisation towards this initiative.

These ambitious initiatives, Caribbean in scope and potential, are examples of both the journey we must undertake and the destination we should reach.

In recent times, this space has been filled with messages focusing on strategy, financial growth, high-potential projects, technology, and transformation. This university has another imperative, a moral imperative, laid out in its core values:

“The UWI will perform in an honest, caring, ethical and trustworthy manner, and will create a culture of accountability in our management practices to ensure that these values are sustained.”

In this fast-paced, high-tech age, it sometimes seems old fashioned to speak of morals. I would argue that in eras of uncertainty, disruption, and change, a strong moral foundation, inclusive of integrity and accountability, is essential.

Our task, as we continue to make the campus more efficient, productive, innovative, and even profitable, is to always maintain its purpose as an institution of service. Our ultimate value, the ultimate measurement of our success, is the prosperity of this region.