Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 30, 2023 (SKNIS): A National Inter-faith Thanksgiving Service in Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Founding of The University of the West Indies (UWI) was held in St. Kitts at the Wesley Methodist Church on Tuesday, 28th March, 2023.
The theme for UWI’s 75th Anniversary is “Rooted Ready Rising”. The University of the West Indies, originally University College of the West Indies was established in 1948 to serve the higher education needs of the residents of the English-speaking Caribbean region.
Several notable persons attended the Service including H.E. Dame Marcella Liburd GCMG, JP, Governor-General of St. Kitts and Nevis and UWI Alumna; the Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis; the Hon. Lanein Blanchette, the Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly; the Hon. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education et al; the Hon. Mark Brantley, the Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and Premier of Nevis; His Excellency Larry Vaughn, Ambassador to CARICOM; Mrs. Lisa Archibald Pistana, Permanent Secretary in Education and other senior government officials; Rev. Mark Christmas and Apostle Debbie Isaac; Mrs. Gaile Gray-Phillip, Head, the University of the West Indies Open Campus, St. Kitts and Nevis; Ms. Isabel Byron, Site Coordinator for Nevis; Mrs. Edgecombe Howell, Former Resident Tutor of UWI, St. Kitts and Nevis; and graduates and students of the UWI.
Head of the UWI Open Campus, St. Kitts and Nevis, and a UWI Alumna, Mrs. Gaile Gray-Phillip, brought remarks from the Vice Chancellor of the UWI, Sir Hilary Beckles.
“It is with a profound sense of pride and optimism that I greet you all. I must express, first of all, my gratitude to each one of you for being here to share in this special occasion as we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of our beloved University of the West Indies,” Sir Hilary said.
“There is a profound truism that Universities are not built to serve themselves. They are built and resourced to serve their communities and nations. The UWI was established and sustained to serve the people of the Caribbean. This is the guiding philosophy on which The UWI has based all that it has done over the past seventy-five years. And what a proud legacy it is! There are more than 200,000 alumni who serve with distinction in their respective fields, and a significant body of research that has underpinned regional and international policies,” the Vice-Chancellor added.
Sir Hilary said that “the collective leadership that on every single front on which this region is engaged, The UWI’s research and expertise has been involved in some way” and outlined areas such as “climate change; chronic non-communicable diseases; economic and social policies that are attentive to, reaffirm and uphold human dignity, the rights and needs of the most vulnerable in our societies; the COVID-19 pandemic; recovery from natural disasters, and uplifting our cultural, artistic and sporting assets.”
“Our national, regional and global visibility has never been higher,” he emphasized.
“The theme for our 75th Anniversary is “Rooted. Ready. Rising.” We are Rooted in the fundamental belief that we are here to serve, Ready to meet any challenges ahead, and ever Rising in stature, visibility and reputation,” Sir Hilary said.
“As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the founding of our university in 2023, I urge all the members of our community, our friends, and well-wishers to reflect on what each one of them can do to help this institution to serve our stakeholders even better in the years to come. We look toward our centenary with great optimism and resolve. Together we can do so much more for current and future generations of students, our countries, our region, our collective future,” the Vice-Chancellor added.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Dr. Geoffrey Hanley congratulated the UWI on its significant milestone.
“It gives me great pleasure to extend warm congratulations to the administration, staff, students, and alumni of this your platinum jubilee. Your 75 years of providing relevant, cutting-edge education, which is responsive to the changes within the diaspora is no small feat. Moving from the establishment of one campus in Mona, Jamaica in 1948 to now five campuses throughout the region,” he said.
“The University of the West Indies has been a beacon and an avenue for upward mobility for countless persons within the Region,” Dr. Hanley added.
Apostle Dr. Debbie Isaac of the Rivers of Living Water Christian Centre and UWI Alumna reflected on her time at UWI, Cave Hill Campus, and presented many anecdotal examples of her time at the University.
“For 75 years, the University of the West Indies has been deeply rooted in the hearts of many Caribbean people as a place that provided a pathway to economic and social transformation,” Dr. Isaac said. “Foreign is not always better.”
Several UWI Alumni participated in the service. Hon. Mark Brantley, UWI Alumnus read the first lesson; Prime Minister Dr. Drew read the second reading; Dr. Carol Liburd, the sister of Dr. Linton Liburd, UWI Alumnus, did the Appreciation of the UWI; Lesroy Williams, UWI Alumnus, chaired the ceremony and did the welcome; Mr. Craig Tuckett, the UWI Global Alumni Rep and UWIAA-SKN Immediate Past President did an Act of Thanksgiving. Intercessory Prayers were done for Education by SKNYPA-Hasani McDonald, UWI Alumnus; for Caribbean Unity and Integration by Shevorne Alexander of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and UWI Alumna; for Peace by Lesroy Williams; For Continued Growth and Development of the UWI by UWIAASKN President and UWI Alumna, Jihan Williams. Mr. Jamie Morris, UWI Alumnus did a solo, and Reverend Mark Christmas, UWI-UTC Alumnus did the Blessing/Benediction.