The UWI Says Farewell to Sir George Alleyne

Photo: Outgoing Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Emeritus Sir George Alleyne with his family at Wednesday evening’s farewell dinner in his honour at The UWI Cave Hill campus.

“An extraordinary physician and scholar, research scientist, orator and progressive public health leader, whose life in service to humanity and impact on the University, the Caribbean and the Americas has been profound.” This excerpt from a citation read on Professor Emeritus Sir George Alleyne on Wednesday 26 April, 2017. Regional colleagues together with family and friends of Sir George celebrated his career as Chancellor of The University of The West Indies (UWI), at a farewell dinner, held in his honour, at The UWI Cave Hill campus. Sir George will demit office in July, after serving two consecutive seven-year terms as Chancellor.

The gala ceremony included speech tributes of highlights and insights into his tenure at The UWI, as well as fond personal memories.

In response to the tributes, Sir George Alleyne credited The UWI with shaping his sense of being West Indian. He said it enabled him to fulfil “the cannons of proper socialization” and he described the institution as “an inextricable part of my identity which I carry throughout my life.”

“For the past thirteen and a half years I have been Chancellor and ever conscious of the responsibility that came with following in the footsteps of persons of eminence and distinction. There was a princess of the royal blood followed by three eminent West Indian lawyers, different in style perhaps, but all displaying the deep and fierce concern for the well-being of the institution as a whole and absolutely committed to upholding and enhancing its reputation. I have been privileged to witness the remarkable growth of the University and the addition of the Open Campus.”

Having served as Chancellor from 2003 to 2010 and then 2010 to 2017, Sir George’s years of distinguished service in the office have left an indelible mark in the history of The UWI. In addition to his service as Chancellor, he has spent a total of 23 years working at the regional University. He was then given the honorary title of Professor Emeritus after leaving The UWI in 1981 to assume the position of Chief of the Unit of Research, Promotion and Coordination in the Division of Human Resources and Research at PAHO/WHO and ascended to the position of Director of PAHO1995. Also a son of UWI soil, he is a proud alumnus, having graduated in 1957 as the gold medallist with the degree of bachelor of medicine and surgery (MB.BS), from the then University College of the West Indies.

Throughout his accomplished career, Sir George has received numerous awards including prestigious decorations and national honours from many countries of the Americas. In 1990, he was made Knight Bachelor by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his services to medicine and in 2001, he was awarded the Order of the Caribbean Community, the highest honour that can be conferred on a Caribbean national.

Speaking at the gala event, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles described the outgoing Chancellor as a model of commitment and caring.

“He has given of his best… It does not take cash to care, it takes consciousness. Sir George is driven by this value, care for The University of the West Indies that cared for him, a lesson in loyalty to be admired and celebrated. This caring at times called for caution and other times for creativity but in all circumstances it called for commitment. This will be, in my judgment, the legacy of this man from (St. Philip).”

On Thursday 27 April, at The UWI’s annual meeting of University Council—the institution’s highest governing body, prominent businessman Robert Bermudez was confirmed as Sir George’s successor.