ONE LOVE/ONE UWI #1: Message from the Vice-Chancellor

A Series from Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

This is my first ‘ONE LOVE/ONE UWI’ message to our community since the suspension of face-to-face teaching on ALL CAMPUSES and our transition to online programme delivery.

and in the salt chuckle of rocks with their sea pools,
there was the sound
like a rumour without any echo of History, really beginning
(The Sea is History, Derek Walcott)
In the last three weeks our University has witnessed the end of one era and the beginning of another.  The COVID-19 pandemic has brought disruption, panic and fear to all the nations of the world.  In our vulnerable Caribbean we have not been exempt, but The UWI with its proud tradition of excellence rooted in the history of a people who are survivors, has risen to the cause.  Within two weeks, the brilliance of our people, the academics, administrators, and technologists has led to a transformed reality which is engendered by a multigenerational commitment to the survival of this University.

We have moved rapidly to transition our courses and programmes to online delivery, thus foregrounding the Triple A Strategy that has guided us since 2017.  Our commitment is to ensure Access for our people, Alignment with the needs of our society in this time of crisis, and Agility in our response to these rapidly changing times. This transformation may seem sudden, but has been a 10-year process of creating resilience and preparing The UWI for a new technologically-enabled future, starting with the formation of our Open Campus in 2008 and leading to this stage where all our campuses have been able to move to multi-mode delivery with more than 60% of our courses now having online content and delivery.

With this rapid transition, the University’s faculty, staff and leadership have signalled the dawn of a new age, and our readiness and ability to lead in all circumstances as we have over the past seven decades.  In the last few days I have reflected that there is no return to the past, and as we struggle beside our people to overcome the terrible threat of COVID-19, we are heartened that we have the skills, the talent and the robustness to build an even better university for the future.  As we deal with the effects of this pandemic, we fully understand that these are indeed the whispers of ‘history, really beginning’.

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

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