Letters & Opinion

Chairman of UWI’s Five Islands Campus says: ‘Zero Time for Friendly Fire!’

(Following is a brief address delivered by Aziz Hadeed, Campus Council Chairman of the Five Islands Campus of The University of the West Indies, on Friday March 26, 2021)

By Aziz Hadeed

Permit me to briefly address an unfolding debate of great consequence to this institution (the Five Islands Campus of The University of the West Indies) and to the people of the region and that is the matter of the stewardship of The UWI over the past few years and its future leadership.

We know of and have benefitted from the visionary Triple “A” Strategic Plan and strategic actions which has transformed the University.

The Five Islands Campus is but one of the many projects within this plan.

We are proud to be a part of the vision to empower and transform the communities of the OECS.

We must, therefore, thank The UWI which nimbly pushes forward in the interest of the people of our Caribbean.

Under the leadership and vision of Vice-Chancellor Beckles, who we take honour in celebrating, his leadership has set the stage to shape our foreseeable future here at Five Islands.

Sir Hilary has provided visionary leadership to the University during the first term of his tenure with the Triple A Plan as his foundation.

His leadership skills, output and global recognition has strengthened the foundation of The UWI to help shape the vision for the global higher education sector. I see his stewardship as a pinnacle of success, with The UWI as the primary beneficiary.

Within this context his team has taken The UWI to the top of the best ranked universities in the world and this outstanding achievement should be celebrated by all stakeholders of The UWI.

We ought not to be distracted or derailed by efforts to diminish the accomplishments achieved by our institution.

Indeed, Sir Hilary has been able to further strengthen the institution by giving it a face and a voice around which the people of the region have coalesced to provide global leadership on the issue of reparations and other critical matters.

Additionally, this campus is especially supportive of the Vice-Chancellors’ TEN POINT FINANCE PLAN for the University, that will see the conversion of its high reputation into sustainable revenue required to operate.

Although it takes funds to move the vision forward, the ethos of our institution is the empowerment of our communities.

Our collective communities look forward to the outcomes of the Review Committee appointed to deliberate on recommendations towards the sustainable future.

There is a thin line we now must be aware of, that each of us in the process should appreciate fully.

We are at a crossroads and I caution that we tread carefully with close regard for the people of this region.

In this light, we wish to celebrate Prime Minister Mottley of Barbados and Prime Minister Browne of Antigua and Barbuda for leading the high-level committee of the University Grants Committee (UGC) to investigate ways in which the government debt and the impairment of these debts can be removed from the University’s balance sheet where they serve as deficit drivers.

Let me state further that The UWI Five Islands Campus will support any process that calls for the immediate confirmation of the Vice-Chancellor’s continued term of service to enable him to fulfill his visionary leadership plans with The UWI.

This matter has reached outside of the University Council and was discussed by the CARICOM Heads of Governments at its last sitting.

We all know that any move to strengthen the institution is a good one, and we support the Vice-Chancellor and his team as they work together to transition the UWI to the next level of development.

The future is the focus of the Five Islands Campus, and we look forward to all pertinent documentation and information being presented to the University Council on April 30, 2021, where discussions of the Review Committee of the Chancellor’s Report help secure that future.

As the internal processes have been forced into the public domain, I hope we appreciate an opportunity to now look within and move to improved levels of growth for the institution.

The people of the region are, and rightfully so, now a part of these deliberations and so I call upon the Chancellor to place before the University Council for discussion the deliberations of all Committees and stakeholders to address the integrity of the process.

We, therefore, acknowledge that threading our commitment to higher education as developing countries in a world that offers us little, is the only way forward for us all.

It is us against the world, and we have zero time for friendly fire my friends.

Instead, the move must be a united one, a One UWI approach.

If the pandemic and the last year has taught us nothing else, we must remember that change is imminent, time resolves all matters, and working through to the end will achieve the requisite outcomes.”

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