Vice-Chancellor Beckles meets with UWI staff in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

On Friday, May 14, immediately following the Government’s lowering of La Soufrière’s volcanic alert level, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles paid a visit to UWI staff in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

He met them face-to-face to better understand their current circumstances in the aftermath of the recent devastating eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano and thank them for their resilience in such challenging times. He applauded their commitment to effecting their professional responsibilities, managing their personal and families’ safety and security, and coping with day-to-day life, even while bolstering the University’s response efforts as its local, in-country representatives.

In expressing his appreciation to the team, Vice-Chancellor Beckles underscored that in a time of great stress and uncertainty, the staff had risen to a unique moment in time to undertake critical work in service to country and community.

His official visit included a courtesy call to The UWI Open Campus site in the capital city, Kingstown. Meeting with the Head of Site, Deborah Dalrymple, and her team, Vice-Chancellor Beckles shared that he was mindful that the national community, including UWI staff had confronted a double catastrophe—the fall out of COVID-19 and the disruptive volcanic activity and consequential ash fall.

Under the leadership of Mrs Dalrymple a support group at the Open Campus in Saint Vincent was mobilised to engage the immediate relief efforts in close coordination with Deputy Principal of The UWI Open Campus, Dr Francis Severin, allowing the University to respond with agility to the crisis and areas of greatest need. The Site has been a focal point for collecting and distributing aid and support primarily to UWI students and their families in SVG during the crisis which has been collected from alumni, staff and other well-wishers regionally and internationally.

In addition to his one-on-one engagement with staff, Vice-Chancellor Beckles took the opportunity to tour the newly expanded facilities for the Open Campus in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The upgraded accommodations, which were funded by a CDB loan to the Open Campus of over US$6 million, were earmarked for re-opening in March 2020, but this was thwarted by the global pandemic. The significant investment by the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is intended to bolster the capacity of the Open Campus in its delivery of online and blended educational opportunities. The site will provide support for the over 800 students in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines pursuing degree and continuing and professional programmes and enable even greater growth in numbers over the next few years.