ONE LOVE/ONE UWI #5: Message from the Vice-Chancellor

A Series from Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

“Yeah – said Dan – Now if the half has never been told, you must know what has been told and have some wind of what has not been told.
Yeah – said Willie.
Well, tell man tell – said Dan.”
(Myal, Erna Brodber)
In the past seven days, I have heard many tales told about the signs and wonders witnessed in respect of the magic of The UWI in action. I wish to add to the inventory of stories because it is how we capture the evidence of day-to-day life that is too often taken for granted. This is the moment, this COVID-19 catastrophe, that calls for our half to be told.

Yesterday was an historic moment. We delivered the inaugural meeting of the Five Islands’ Campus Council online within the context of the declared State of Emergency and 24-hour public health curfew in Antigua and Barbuda. Our technology team across the region connected the Council and flattened the curfew. It was “UWI solidarity” in the worst of times. Blessings to office staffers and technicians who enabled a seamless online meeting experience.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Stafford Griffith and his team presented an excellent report on their stewardship of Five Islands from its inception. I was moved to ‘eye moisture’ by the summary statement made by Council Chairman, Aziz Hadeed, as he spoke of the power of The UWI to uplift and propel our people, and the joy he feels, as a private sector businessman, being a part of this public academic enterprise.

Last week we held another historic meeting—a gathering of the five presidents of the Students’ Guilds and the five Campus Principals. They discussed the present with COVID-19 and the future without it; as well as examination matters, challenges of inequity within the online teaching culture, and the psychological state of our student body. This online encounter was followed by a round table discussion with WIGUT Presidents. Tomorrow, we shall meet with the leaders of unions representing our ATS staff for the same reason.

A magical metaphor (MM) leaps from the legacy of The UWI’s storytelling. It surrounds and infuses all we do—particularly our consultations and strategic planning. It captures the beauty of the unity that enables us to serve our region. It will ensure our institutional sustainability. It will energize us to get through this semester, the summer that follows, and to make the right strategic choices for the coming 2020-2021 academic year.

The MM is this: our UWI is a monument, and today we are standing closer together while standing six feet apart.

Allegories apart, let’s be of good heart as we continue to play our part from home where we hear our UWI hymn. Blessings also to our students as you prepare to complete your learning online, and prepare for future assessment.

Be safe and sound!

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

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