UWI Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles: “The UWI is celebrating its own before others”

“We are celebrating our own…before other people, because we know that most of our distinguished scholars are on the path to international celebration.” These remarks came from Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles at the. The annual awards celebration which recognises outstanding achievements by academic staff members was held on Wednesday 25 October, 2017 at The St Augustine campus in Trinidad and Tobago. Six awards for excellence were presented at the ceremony.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Vice-Chancellor Beckles recalled being in the room 25 years ago when then Vice-Chancellor Sir Alister McIntyre brought the proposal of the awards for discussion and approval. He said there was some resistance to the idea of Caribbean persons ‘blowing our own trumpets’ however the University accepted the importance of celebrating its own. He added, “This event then is simultaneously a celebration and expression of gratitude, because it’s the relation between the individual and the institution. Your remarkable achievements empower the institution. And we would like to imagine that the institution gives you an environment in which you can flourish….and we hope that this is what will continue to build our institution in years to come.”

The six recipients of the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence 2016/2017 were:

  • Excellence Award for Teaching | Dr Jacqueline Bridge, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, St Augustine Campus
  • Excellence Award for Research Accomplishments | Professor Chris Oura, School of Veterinary Medicine, St Augustine Campus and Professor Ian R Hambleton, The George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, Cave Hill Campus (formerly the Chronic Disease Research Centre)
  • Excellence Award for Contribution to Public Service | Dr Indra Haraksingh, Department of Physics, St Augustine Campus
  • Excellence in International Collaboration: Globalisation Award | The Project for Ecosystem Services, Department of Life Sciences, St Augustine Campus – Professor John Agard, Principal Investigator
  • Excellence in Multi-Campus Research Collaboration: The One UWI Award | Evaluation of the CARICOM Heads of Government 2007 Port of Spain Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Summit Declaration – Dr T. Alafia Samuels, Principal Investigator, The George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, Cave Hill Campus (formerly the Chronic Disease Research Centre)

A University tradition for almost 25 years, the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence specifically celebrates service in the areas of teaching, administration and research accomplishments, service to the university community, contributions to public service, all-round excellence in a combination of two or more of these core areas as well as departmental operational excellence. This year, two new awards were added: Excellence in Multi-Campus Research Collaboration: the One-UWI Award and Excellence in International Collaboration: the Globalisation Award. To date, the number of these prestigious awards given totals 126.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Graduate Studies and Research Professor Dale Webber who chaired the University Selection Committee explained the process. He noted that for the 2015/2016 Awards, 26 applications were screened from which 14 were presented to the University selection committee for further review that led to the seven awardees recognised on the evening. He acknowledged, “There is much excellence within The UWI that we must celebrate and communicate” and also revealed that two new awards would soon be added. According to Professor Webber, these are the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for ‘Excellence Globalisation, Internationalisation in Research’ and the ‘Multi-Campus One UWI Research Award’. The criteria for these are being finalised and will be included with the invitation for applications for the 2016/2017 Awards.

In his welcome remarks, Professor Brian Copeland, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the St. Augustine Campus explained that the awards are rotated annually across the four campuses but the St Augustine Campus has had the honour of hosting the awards for two consecutive years. He noted, “This has happened because the St Augustine Campus has taken the majority of the awards”. Speaking to the awardees he said, “You stand out as exemplars in your respective fields. You should all therefore feel a deep sense of pride in your achievement as your work has endured the scrutiny of your peers who have deemed you worthy of this accolade.”

Chair of the Selection Committee, Professor Dale Webber, Pro Vice-Chancellor Graduate Studies & Research shared some insight into the process for the awards. He described that ffollowing the invitation for applicants, the Campus Registrars review all the nominations for completeness and adherence to the requirements. They are then sent to administrative or campus subcommittees for the first screening. After this, the Campus Selection Committee reviews and makes a shortlist of the best nominations to be sent the University Registrar for consideration by the University Selection Committee. This committee which meets annually in May, consists of external lay members and internal members of the University. Professor Webber noted that for the 2016/2017 awards, the Campus Selection Committee received and considered 35 applications in total and sent forward 18 for consideration by the Selection Committee at University level. From these, the committee chose six who they thought excelled.