Former chancellor of the New York Department of Education, Dennis Walcott, has been appointed Honorary Distinguished Fellow of the University of the West Indies.
This was contained in a Press release issued by the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.
As chancellor in the New York City administration under then Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Walcott oversaw a system of more than 1,700 schools, with 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees and a US$23 billion budget.
Over a 12-year period, there were transformative changes in education in New York City, including a 40 per cent increase in the graduation rate, a reduction by 50 per cent of the dropout rate and crime in schools reduced by 93 per cent.
Before his Chancellor appointment, Walcott served for more than eight years as Mayor Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for education and community development and in that capacity co-ordinated the operations of the department of education, the New York housing authority, the department of youth and community development and the mayor’s office of adult education.
Prior to joining the Bloomberg administration in 2002, Walcott was president and chief executive of the New York Urban League where he expanded educational and youth service programmes including Jeter’s Leaders and Bridge to Brotherhood programmes, Healthy Start, Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership and the 140th Street Building Block Programme.
The Press release pointed out that from time to time the university may appoint as honourary distinguished fellows persons of outstanding regional and international statue and prominence, such as prime ministers from the region, heads of significant regional organizations, internationally acclaimed scholars, authors, poets, musicians and artistes.
The release went on to say that while the positions of Honorary Distinguished Fellow is an honorific, non-salaried one, the university would provide the fellows with an enabling atmosphere that might encourage such fellows to produce memoirs and learned writings, to engage in scholarly seminars, to mentor graduate scholars and to deliver public lectures.
Since his appointment Walcott and his wife Dennis have been relocated to Barbados for one year.
The university believes his experience in educational reform would be invaluable to the university.
It is further expected that he would partner with the regional institution in exploring the establishment of a presence in New York City.