An event to mark time spotlights the UWI’s raison d’etre:
The University of the West Indies (UWI) just celebrated the contributions of two retiring senior intellectuals/administrators – Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC)s Yvette Jackson and Alvin Wint. PVCs bridge the gap between the two levels of the UWI system: the four individual campuses headed by the Principals; and the overarching regional structure wherein each Principal is a Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) and the head of the stream is the pan-UWI’s Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor. The Principals aside, there are also PVCs responsible for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Studies respectively, Planning, and Global Affairs. Wint spent some time as the head of the undergraduate stream and Jackson as head of postgraduate studies.
Both are UWI alumni – Wint having completed his undergraduate education at the UWI’s Mona Campus before widening his focus to North America. He returned to the Mona Campus in 1993 to teach and served as Head of the Department of Management Studies from 1997 to 2003. From 2009 he served as PVC in charge of the Board of Undergraduate Studies and then as a Senior Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor.
Jackson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Organic Chemistry from the UWI Mona Campus. She joined the staff of the UWI in 1983 as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and was promoted through the ranks before being asked to undertake increasingly senior administrative functions.
Beyond their shared experiences, underscoring of collegiality and common commitment to the institution’s progress, there was a strong recounting of the importance of helping to launch a new generation of scholars. Perhaps though, the most telling point came when PVC Wint recalled his first visit to the UWI decades ago as a student of the rural Junction Primary School, one of a group brought in by a visionary teacher to see an electron microscope – his and his fellow-students’ first experience of an institution striving to be world class. He said that it was thanks to many people, not least the taxpayers of the country and region, that he was able to not just get to the UWI, but to receive a first class education there. Having done postgraduate in North America and taken his first job there, he determined that his desire to contribute to positive change would best be served in the Caribbean. The region and the countries of the region had placed a tremendous responsibility on the university to take both forward, he said. He acknowledged that within and through the UWI, many people had taken up the baton to do that work and he urged the continuation of that endeavour.