ONE LOVE/ONE UWI #13 | Message from the Vice-Chancellor

A Series from the Vice-Chancellor

“What I will say here is that that poem [I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud] caused me to wonder why, as a Jamaican child of eight or nine, I was being made to memorise and recite a poem about a flower I had never seen, a flower that does not grow on the island.

And perhaps because as a small child I had asked for an open ear, I thought I heard a voice saying, ‘Well maybe you should write a poem about the plants and flowers that grow in Jamaica,’ and I have tried to obey that voice.” [Lorna Goodison, Redemption Ground]

Thus far, June has been a month of many journeys. I admit it has been jittery in part. We are bringing closure to the academic year 2019-20 and making final preparations for the start of the new academic year. Campus Principals, who successfully transitioned their teaching and learning cultures to emergency online delivery, have been monitoring and examining student and staff readiness as well as national and regional COVID-19 environments.

The Vice-Chancellery, working closely with campuses, has been feeding COVID-19 Science and Humanities sensibilities, as well as other derived intelligence, into our central strategic planning exercise. In this regard, you can be assured that going forward, we are guided by the excellent work and recommendations of our COVID-19 Task Force.

The basic framework for the 2020-21 academic year is therefore in place. We shall maintain the traditional timelines for the full opening of the campuses, while allowing each some flexibility with respect to the specifics of registration and the start of teaching. This is the time framework of the official Academic Diary that will guide ‘up and running’ operations as we ‘go live’ with learning in August/September.

We have received the Interim Report of the “Imagining 20/21 Task Force”. The final report will drive critical components of our revised strategies to transcend COVID-19, and go boldly beyond the boundaries of its devastation.

We have also entered, with our contributing governments, a deep dive assessment of income and expenditure schedules. We are deepening mutual trust and full accountability in a new partnering approach to management. Also, conversations have begun with our many staff and student unions with respect to these matters.

Of this, I am sure: The UWI will emerge from these exercises, a better, stronger, more sustainable institution.

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles


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