In its fifty years of awarding Honorary Degrees (2016 marks 51), the UWI has honoured 437 Caribbean nationals and international icons whose achievements have impacted the region.

A look at some of those whom we’ve confirmed were born in the month of July, across the years, gives some idea of the breadth of persons recognised: educators, entrepreneurs, legal luminaries, sportsmen, cultural icons; monarchs and citizens; persons whose greatness is acknowledged worldwide and those less well known.

Dr Joyce Robinson nee Lawson, Jamaican librarian and educator – born July 2, 1925

Mr Karl Broodhagen, Barbadian sculptor – born July 4, 1925

Sir Frederick Ballantyne, cardiologist and Governor General of St Vincent & the Grenadines – born July 5, 1936

Sir Frederick Smith, barrister, once Attorney-General of Barbados and Chief Justice of the Turks & Caicos Islands   – born July 6, 1924

Mr Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Jamaican entrepreneur and hotel magnate – born July 6, 1941

Mr Slinger ‘Mighty Sparrow’ Francisco, Grenadan/Trinidadian calypso icon – born July 9, 1935

Sr Nicholas Guillen, Cuban poet laureate – born July 10, 1902

Hon Herb McKenley, Jamaican sprinter and sports administrator – born July 10, 1922

Mr Earl Lovelace, Trinidadian author – born July 13, 1935

Mr Peter Minshall, Trinidadian carnival designer – born July 16, 1941

Mr Boscoe Holder, Trinidadian contemporary painter, dancer, designer, musician, of Barbadian descent – born July 16, 1921

Mr Nelson Mandela, political icon, former President of South Africa – born July 18, 1918

Sir Orville Turnquest,  fifth Governor-General of The Bahamas – born July 19, 1929

Sir Raymond Priestley, scientist, Arctic explored, once Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham & original Council member of the UCWI – born July 20, 1886

Dr Vera Rubin, path-finding American astronomer – born July 23, 1928

H.I.M. Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethopia – born July 23, 1892

Sir Garfield Sobers, iconic Caribbean cricketer born in Barbados – born July 28, 1936

Mr Irving ‘ Lord Burgess’ Burgie, American composer and songwriter of Barbadian descent – born July 28, 1924

The degree ceremonies combine current appreciation with tradition. In the UWI’s first such ceremony in February 1965, the University Orator noted: “In exercising their high and solemn right to confer degrees of academic distinction without regard to fear or favour, universities have reserved their supreme distinctions for those upon whom they would confer them for the sake of honour – honoris causa as they still say in the Latin tongue in which they first spoke and wrote. On such occasions especially there is something of a mutual exchange of honour. They honour as they would be honoured. It could even be that they are honoured more than they can honour, though not more than they would wish to honour.”

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