The University of the West Indies was established to bring Caribbean people together, says former Jamaican prime minister Percival Patterson.
Patterson made this observation today while speaking at a ceremony to rename the old administrative building of the Cave Hill Campus The Leslie Robinson Building. The former Caribbean head of government told an audience, which included several members of academia, that he entered UWI’s Mona Campus as a Jamaican, but graduated as an unrepentant federalist.
“Irrespective of where we came from, we were all one. We were very involved in Caribbean affairs; I would say precociously so. The students of my day were drawing up plans for an independent federation. The bonding of the region’s people must be regarded as sacred no matter the challenges which face the region today.
“We must maintain the Caribbean identity. Even though at this turbulent period of Caribbean economic history most of the current leaders are graduates of the UWI, it cannot be denied that the region benefited substantially from the presence of the UWI,” Patterson said.
Meanwhile, principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, argued that over its 50 years, the Cave Hill Campus had been an “enormously successful enterprise”.
He said: “No one today can imagine Barbados without the Cave Hill Campus. Modern Barbados is as much the creation of the UWI as any single factor. The role of the Cave Hill Campus in the transformation of this country is arguably more obvious and evident and more compelling than probably the impact of other campuses on their islands, largely because Cave Hill penetrates deeper into the small space than any Mona and St. Augustine where there are other universities as well.
“But here in Barbados the Cave Hill Campus’ presence is immediate; it is striking and is very deep, which is why it is the subject of the kinds of conversations that we are having today,” Sir Hilary added. (NC)