A Reflection on Professor “Bunny” Lalor

“A giant amongst giants … a chemist who always knew how to solve a problem, and a mind constantly at work … Always in the quest to better mankind and the Jamaican people…” is how Professor Dale Webber, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI, Mona Campus remembers the late Professor Emeritus, the Honourable Gerald “Bunny” Cecil Lalor, OM, OJ, CD.

Photo from The Department of Chemistry, UWI, Mona by K. E. Magnus and R. J. Lancashire

Professor Lalor, a U(C)WI alumnus was one of the pioneering pelicans of the University. He was among the second batch of students to graduate from the UCWI Faculty of Natural Sciences in 1953, with a BSc in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. His first job was as a chemist at the West Indies Chemical Works, then the world’s largest producer of logwood dyes. The colouring principles of logwood dyes, haemotoxylin and haematein, became the subject of Lalor’s Masters’ degree, awarded in 1957. He later went to the University of Cambridge on a Leverhulme Colonial Scholarship to do research but returned after a year to take up the position of Chief Chemist, following the resignation of his predecessor.

Photo from The Department of Chemistry, UWI, Mona by K. E. Magnus and R. J. Lancashire

In 1960, he gave up his post of Chief Chemist and returned to his UWI family to serve as an assistant lecturer in Chemistry. In 1963, he acquired his doctorate in Physical Inorganic Chemistry at the University of London, and by 1969 he was appointed Professor of Chemistry, the first UCWI graduate to receive a professorship. His principled ways and unrelenting drive for success propelled him towards making further academic gains and scientific discoveries and developments.

Beyond academic excellence, he also played a pioneering role – becoming the first UCWI graduate to be appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor in 1974 and the first Principal of the Mona Campus after the Vice-Chancellor stopped holding that post in 1991. As fittingly expressed by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles: “Professor Lalor was the quintessential representative of the gentleman scholar who shaped the academic and administrative culture of The UWI system. He was humane in his thinking and humorous in approach, a combination that won universal love and respect among his peers. As an early pioneer of UWI science and technology, he will be remembered and celebrated as a giant whose footprints paved the way for generations of staff and students.”

Walk good Professor “Bunny” Lalor, though you are gone, you will never be forgotten.

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