Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley wants the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies renamed in honour of the late former Prime Minister Professor Owen Arthur.
She says she has already approached the head of that institution Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles with the idea.
Speaking today in the House of Assembly Mottley made the announcement as the Lower Chamber paid tribute to the St Peter-born parliamentarian who led Barbados for 14 years and served in the Parliament for close to 34 years.
“I must tell you that I have approached the Vice Chancellor at the University of the West Indies to indicate that if the Barbados Labour Party could have one wish and one wish alone it would be to rename the Cave Hill Campus after Owen Seymour Arthur,” she said to sound of table-thumping from other parliamentarians in the Lower House.
The PM continued: “He represents the fine Barbadian that that Campus was developed to be able to produce and as Prime Minister for the longest period of any other Prime Minister since Independence it was his to engage with that university.
“I know because for seven of those 14 years I was Minister of Education and I know the depths of his commitment. I know the extent to which he wanted the rest of his days to be associated with the institution that helped shape him and mould him as the young Barbadian mind… to shape the national consciousness that gave him the courage to be the man that he was and to be the leader that he was,” the prime minister said watched by Arthur’s wife Julie and his daughters Leah and Sabrina.
She made it clear though that while her Government would “strongly advocate” for the change to be made, it was not the administration’s decision to make.
“This is not a decision of the Barbados Government obviously. This is a decision of the University of the West Indies and we will live with whatever decision they make. But we will strongly advocate for the Cave Hill Campus to be named The Owen Arthur Campus at Cave Hill University of the West Indies.
“We believe that simple act will inspire a young boy whether in Rose Hill or a young girl in Bush Hall or a young boy in Hindsbury Road to believe that they can be the best that they can be in this country.” She added. “To use his words: ‘That they can go for the best because Barbados must not settle for the bronze. Barbados must not settle for the silver. Barbados must go for the gold’. Those words must forever mean something to generations of Barbadians.”
Mottley led off the tributes and delivered an hour-long homage to the man who she continues to credit for teaching her much of what she knows about politics. She spoke about his “grassroots” politics and of his life from senator, parliamentarian, party leader to the office of Prime Minister.
The PM also directly addressed his widow Julie and his family expressing sympathies and commending Mrs Arthur for submitting his body of papers to the University of the West Indies. She also asked the Speaker of the House Arthur Holder for permission to make the tribute which she delivered at Arthur’s funeral on August 14 a document of the house.
Arthur, 70, died on July 27. (IMC)