The University of the West Indies (UWI) is embarking on a full year of activities to celebrate its 75th anniversary, with initiatives designed to reflect on the past of the learning institution, confront the present and articulate future plans.
Being observed under the theme UWI at 75 – Rooted, Ready, Rising, the celebrations will officially kick off on Sunday with a convocation service and continue with various activities each month of the year.
Events will include cross-campus quizzes, award ceremonies, a rebranding of the campuses’ lecture series, sports and cultural activities, conferences, and research showcases.
Vice Chancellor of the UWI Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said he was pleased with the transformation, growth and achievements of the university over the past seven and a half decades.
He said despite being dotted with challenges, the last 75 years have seen the university contributing significantly to nation building, economic transformation and development in the region, and academic excellence.
“Each decade since 1948 has been marked by challenges and difficulties as we sought to detach our people from the colonial scaffold. There have been difficult and challenging times, but there has never been any doubt or despair, there has never been a call to retreat nor to resign. Our struggle has been spirited and just, purposeful and righteous,” said Sir Hilary.
The UWI, which first opened in Jamaica in October 1948 as the University College of the West Indies with some 33 students, has since expanded to include five physical campuses across the Caribbean, a number of open campus sites and several global centres.
The university boasts of having more than 250 000 graduates from a wide range of disciplines over the last 75 years and a significant body of research that has informed national and regional policies.
Reflecting on the university’s contribution to the region’s economic and human development, Chancellor of the UWI Robert Bermudez said he believed the learning institution had lived up to its promise. However, he quickly indicated that there was still a long way to go.
“Much more can be done and must be done. We will need the active involvement of all members of our community – staff, students and alumni – and those in our extended community to ensure that the UWI continues to produce the high-quality research and graduates for which it has become known,” said Bermudez.
He said during this year of celebration, and going forward, university officials will be calling on all stakeholders to work with the leadership of the regional institution “to keep in the hearts and minds of everyone, the university’s mission – to advance learning, create knowledge and foster innovation for the positive transformation of the Caribbean and the wider world.”
As part of the 75th jubilee celebrations, which is supported by 17 governments across the region, several countries have declared Saturday, January 7, 2022, as UWI Day.
The year of anniversary celebrations has a dedicated website to provide updates – www.uwi.edu/75. The UWI will have a range of merchandise for sale throughout the year, with proceeds going towards the university operations. (MM)