As the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) celebrates 60 years of existence, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has thrown out a challenge to officials of that institution to ensure it remains relevant to the needs of residents and the region.
She said that while the Cave Hill Campus had made a defining difference in the quality of life of people in Barbados and the rest of the region over the years, it now had a major task of ensuring that it was meeting the changing needs of this century.
“The reality is, that we have to continue to make sure that it is equal to the task of repositioning this country as we go forward, not by doing what it did in the past better, but by meeting the needs of today’s world in a way that makes us and our citizens capable of being on the cutting edge and making that defining difference especially in a world that is fundamentally different from the world in which Cave Hill Campus was originally founded,” said Mottley.
Her comments came in a recorded message played during the launching ceremony for the Cave Hill Campus’ 60th anniversary celebrations.
While thanking those who contributed to the legacy of the learning institution over the past six decades, Mottley said she was aware the university was still being asked to craft a future with seemingly dwindling resources.
However, she pointed out “It is possible if we try a little harder.
“Let us not hold on to the things of the past purely because they felt comfortable, but let us ensure that we craft programmes and that we produce citizens who are equal to the task of their time. It is only when we do that that it makes sense to celebrate the legacy of the past, not as a historic reality but as a platform for prosperity into the future,” she said.
She also urged the university officials to form greater partnerships and collaborations with stakeholders in an effort to “fight the battles of the world, not just the battles of Barbados and the Caribbean”.
“It is only against that backdrop that the University of the West Indies will remain that vital body especially with Cave Hill as one of the campuses that will make a difference, not just to Caribbean civilization [and] Barbadian development, but to global stability and prosperity,” said Mottley.
She suggested that the university also play a greater role in helping the region tackle a range of challenges including those related to the climate crisis and biodiversity.
Meanwhile, Deputy Principal of the Cave Hill Campus Professor Winston Moore pointed to the importance of the learning institution, as he referenced its contribution to human and social development over the years.
He noted that in addition to providing access to higher education for thousands of Barbadians each year, the university was involved in research that was helping to drive innovation and economic growth. It was also fostering cultural and intellectual exchanges and promoting exchange of ideas, he said.
Professor Moore also indicated that over the years the university had formed strategic partnerships with private sector organisations to tackle a range of issues, while serving as a cultural centre for the communities.
The Cave Hill Campus started in Bridgetown in 1963 with 118 students.
“By 2022 over 40,000 persons from Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean and the rest of the world have graduated from the UWI, Cave Hill Campus,” said Moore.
He noted that a 2014 study which he led showed that the Cave Hill Campus had generated an average of $200 million in economic activity and over $80 million in foreign exchange annually.
“I am going to be updating those numbers soon, so those numbers might rise even further,” he informed.
Officials also highlighted the support the institution was providing to the development of sport, training and research in areas of national development and its role most recently in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The year-long 60th anniversary celebration coincides with the 75th anniversary celebration of the UWI, which will also be carrying out a range of activities to mark the occasion.
In addition to a launch parade on Friday, the Cave Hill Campus will be engaging in several activities including a series of lectures, three bus tours, 11 monthly historic tours across all parishes, a symposium, a treasure hunt and an anniversary gala.
Dr Henderson Carter, chairman of the 60th anniversary committee, said the milestone was being marked with some specific objectives in mind – to reflect on past achievements and struggles and project a path for the future, build greater cohesion and camaraderie among staff, forge tighter bonds with stakeholders and to give back to the community.