All hail Sir Hilary

Sir Hilary Beckles
Sir Hilary Beckles

Sir Hilary Beckles was the man of the moment last evening at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, as both he and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart seemed to put their recent public squabbles behind them.


The two men, who have traded personal jabs over the Barbados Government’s policy on tertiary education — in particular a decision to have students pay their own tuition fees — warmly embraced during an elaborate installation ceremony yesterday at which the eighth Vice Chancellor of the UWI was hailed as the right man for the job.

“You come to this office with the goodwill of millions within and without the Caribbean. They and I have confidence that in you, we have imagination and intelligence, the courage and competence, the integrity and industry, and that fierce commitment to excellence that makes for the brightest,” said UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne, before a large audience, which included three Caribbean prime ministers at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.


The principal of the UWI Mona Campus, Professor Archibald McDonald also described the St Andrew-born academic as the “quintessential Caribbean man”.

“Under your leadership the University of the West Indies will not stand still, our Caribbean nation will not stand still. I have no doubt that you will seize the opportunity to make things better,” he said.

Caribbean Community chairman Prime Minister Perry Christie, who was also joined by St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Dr Ralph Gonsalves, said, “I am confident that the mantle of leadership of UWI is being passed on to the right person”.

From left, Prime Ministers Freundel Stuart,  Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Perry Christie, along with Chancellor Sir George Alleyne, Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles and former Chancellor Sir Shridath Ramphal.
From left, Prime Ministers Freundel Stuart, Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Perry Christie, along with Chancellor Sir George Alleyne, Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles and former Chancellor Sir Shridath Ramphal.

When his turn came to address the gathering, Sir Hilary, who is the former principal of Cave Hill, said his plan was to shift the focus of the three-campus university from straight academic studies to forging stronger links with the private sector.

“We have a great deal of work to do,” he said after the cape of Vice-Chancellor was placed on his shoulders.

“As a university we have our work cut out for us. Our top priority has to be working intimately with our wealth creators in order to drive our region out of recession.

“The building of our economic competitiveness and the achievement of economic growth must be the top priority for all of us,” he said.

Noting that UWI was built to serve people of the region, Sir Hilary said, “If the bus of our economy is in the ditch, then all of us must roll up our sleeves and push and pull until that bus is back on the highway.

“The building of strong industry-academic links as a normal architecture must be addressed. All those countries that have achieved strong sustainable economic growth with social progress have done so on the platform of industry-academic networks in which innovation and value creation were prioritized.

“The university has done a great deal in the past but we must do even more,” he said, warning, “this recession is a threat to all we have achieved”.

Several academics and students were in attendance.
Several academics and students were also in attendance.

11 Responses to All hail Sir Hilary

  1. Francis John May 31, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    What a waste of money!!

  2. Olutoye Walrond May 31, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    So are we supposed to believe that all the harsh things said by one against the other have been obliterated and erased by a photo op?

  3. Patrick Blackman May 31, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    And students have to pay tuition to support this crap. Hilary you have always been a joke.

  4. Carl Harper June 1, 2015 at 12:41 am

    The picture with PM Stuart and Sir Hilary laughing in unison and sharing the moment at the new UWI Vice Chancellor’s inauguration is indeed a sight for sore eyes.

    The Prime Minister understands protocol and his role in the highest political office in the land, despite lambasting Sir Hilary at a Sunday branch meeting for speaking truthfully about the impact of the tuition fee policy on enrolment at the Cave Hill campus.

    The PM could not and would not have snubbed the invitation to be part of the momentous occasion. He enjoys pomp and pageantry, ceremony and officialdom, and is the consummate showman when he takes over the stage.

    Sir Hilary, on the other hand, understands the game of politics and how politicians must pander to their base on emotive issues, even if it means launching an unwarranted attack on personalities.

    At the end of the day a good time appears to be had by all while it is unclear if Donville Inniss was present to partake in the “caviar” and “lobster tails”.

    • Olutoye Walrond June 1, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Carl, I really admire your ability to make jewels out of pig ears.

  5. jus me June 1, 2015 at 4:36 am

    A total spit in the face for the struggling Barbados, workers.

    This PM is “WUFFLESS!”

    • Olutoye Walrond June 1, 2015 at 10:22 am

      REally. We don’t need to sink to these depths.

  6. zeus June 1, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Carl when will you stop spewing your yardfoulism crap …..if Barbados had real investigative journalists and put uwi under the microscope we would see the short comings of the man and the establishment …..did you read the comments of sir Henry Frazier when he said that the structures going up around the university was not reflective of the results coming out of it

  7. Patrick Blackman June 1, 2015 at 7:05 am

    @Carl Harper: I do agree that the Prime Minister should be there but you fail the address the “perception” factor. Why should the university spend this kind of money just for the installation of one of its officers?

    There is no justification for this. Hilary has always had grandiose ideas for UWI that were always just plain stupid given the limited budget and development needs for the country and the region.

    This guy was never brilliant in any way, remember his stupidity with the mutual? The guy lives in a dream world with his fake British accent.

  8. Harry Roberts June 1, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    what an awful waste of money over $300K to “big up” SIR H! surely that money could have been better spent giving an University education to some worthy students.
    A bunch of hypocrites.

  9. Charles Worrell June 2, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Many times we view these occasions and all the pomp associated with much skepticism and indeed we should. There was a time when education in the Caribbean had an integrative intent. That was when the Caribbean had four major universities and all people of the diaspora were welcomed as students. It went further than this: we shared our cultures and ways of life, we shared places of inhabitance, we shared broke pockets, we shared a carnival expression of our dance, food etc. etc. and we saw our sisters and brothers rise to political power and influence and we knew them on a first name basis. This then, laid the foundation for serious conversation regarding what the peoples of the Caribbean can do together.
    If you believe the statement that focus deferred is focus destroyed, then one can see where the Caribbean has been underserved by these institutions and the persons appointed to head them. That unity was never emphasized as it should have been; the continued effort to bring and keep our people together was substituted for graduates who now had jobs, well paying jobs and who saw integration as no longer necessary for the people of the Caribbean. So, the fight of independence raged with the outcome being a separation where the four major states decided that each of them will have their own faculties. The results here and those pending were self serving as Administrations concentrated on building worth millions rather than look at what works and what the people of the Caribbean AS A WHOLE can be through the educational system. We hailed administrations for these wanton acts while ignoring the consequential need for the bill being paid and more importantly, who will have to pay it. Because this was not a consideration, the DREAMS OF THE LATE founders: ERROL BARROW, ERIC WILLIAMS, NORMAN & MIKE MANLEYAND EVEN FORBES BURNHAM for freed education has been stolen. These leaders UNDERSTOOD what it took to maintain education for their people and the impact it had throughout the world. Many times, we hear the ‘experts’ talking their mess and what they forget is very vital to WHERE our education should go. Most of us KNOW that where ever in the world we go, our DEGREES were far more solid that those of other countries INCLUDING the USA. We graduated from their institutions is record time and now, we allow these very countries to convince us that ours is no longer good enough while many of those being hailed today, sat silent or kept busy persuing their personal well being.
    Yes, we have lost much and these leaders have lost their way a long time ago but more importantly, the effective integrative process that should have been advanced with us as the ‘new men’ of the Caribbean was undermined by a set of get rich quick people and even now, we cement our further demise by institutionalizing these very people on places where we are assured that nothing will happen for the process. Yes, $300,000.00 is a fair piece of change but the cost to the people of the Caribbean has been far greater.


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