The UWI and UNIANDES form alliance to drive growth and development in the Caribbean and Latin America.

A new regional collaboration embracing continental Latin America and the Caribbean is underway. On April 11 The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES) formalised the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development during a signing ceremony held at UNIANDES in Bogota, Colombia.

According to Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Open Campus, Dr Luz Longsworth, who represented The UWI at the signing, “Through research-driven innovative solutions to regional challenges, this Strategic Alliance between UNIANDES and The UWI will impact governance policies for economic growth, social stability and sustainable development in the Caribbean and Latin America.”

The Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development builds on a history of regional efforts in the tertiary sector, including a 1968 conference of Caribbean university heads hosted by the University of Puerto Rico and in part financed by the Ford Foundation. That meeting led to the creation of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes (ACURI), which elected its first Secretary General to be Sir Philip Sherlock, then Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, with UNIANDES as a founding member. Cooperative projects in health, agriculture, science and technology resulted from the ACURI body.

In addition to the Strategic Alliance, the April 11 ceremony established two other MOUs which outline collaboration between The UWI and UNIANDES for the development of post-graduate degrees, certificates and other training programmes, and also for joint research in areas of mutual interest. Joint initiatives are already being planned for implementation in 2020 in Comparative Global Cultural Studies and Medical Sciences. The Alliance will develop additional projects for implementation in the long-term.

The UWI delegation to the Universidad de los Andes was led by Dr Longsworth and comprised Ambassador Gillian Bristol, Director of the Latin American-Caribbean Centre, Dr Tomlin Paul, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Mona representing The UWI’s three Faculties of Medicine; Dr Winston De La Haye, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Mona, and Dr Sonjah Stanley-Niaah, Director of the Institute for Cultural Studies at Mona.

Ambassador Bristol, coordinator of the negotiations which led to the Alliance, described it as “A milestone partnership that would advance shared goals for sustainable solutions to social and economic challenges faced by the regions served by both Universities”. Ambassador Bristol also noted, “This 50 plus year old friendship was renewed in a spirit of enthusiastic commitment by the administration and academia of both universities, a sign that success would be guaranteed”.

The Rector (President/Chancellor) of UNIANDES, Dr Pablo Navas Sanz de Santamaria, who signed the MOUs on behalf of his University, embraced the opportunity to revive the UWI-UNIANDES relationship, remarking that the aspirations of the Universities’ leaders in the late 1960s would be reinvigorated with this new Alliance. He also expressed the commitment of UNIANDES for this to be a lasting and productive relationship, that moved intentions from paper into practical outcomes.

Rector Navas Sanz was accompanied by high-level officials of the University including Dr Carolyn Finck, Director for International Relations, Dr Natalia Mejia, Dean of the School of Medicine, Dr Juan Ricardo Aparicio, Associate Professor in Languages and Culture, Dr Gordon Wilemsmeier, Director of Projects Office, Eduardo Behrentz, Vice President of Institutional Development and Alumni, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Dean of Economics, Alfonso Reyes A., Dean of Engineering, Ferney Rodriguez, Dean of Sciences, Zandra Pedraza, Director of Postgraduate Programs in Social Sciences, and Carla Panyella Medrano, Project Coordinator for the Center for Sustainable Development.

Photo Caption: Rector of UNIANDES, Dr. Pablo Navas Sanz de Santamaria, with Dr. Luz Longsworth, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Open Campus.