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Sir Hilary Beckles installed as Vice-Chancellor, UWI

For Release Upon Receipt - Friday, May 29, 2015

Bridgetown, Barbados – On Saturday 30 May, 2015 The University of the West Indies (UWI) will officially install Professor Sir Hilary Beckles as its 8th Vice-Chancellor. The installation ceremony takes place at the Usain Bolt Sport Complex, Paradise Park, UWI Cave Hill Campus, Barbados from 5:00 p.m.


Significance of the Vice-Chancellor’s Installation

This ceremonial installation, steeped in University tradition, and hosted by The UWI Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne, points to a significant intersection of tradition and renewal in the life of the regional institution. It is an important rite signalling the conferment of authority and the formal welcoming of the incoming Vice-Chancellor into the academy. Attended by representatives of regional governments, business, other academic and international organizations and civic society, at the regional and international levels, as well as members of The University staff from across the region, the special ceremony incorporates centuries old elements such as academic regalia, the Flag, Academic and Chancellor’s processions, and the mace; which are based on the tradition of the medieval university.


About the role of the Vice-Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor is the principal academic and administrative officer of the regional institution, The University of the West Indies. The Vice-Chancellor of The UWI is charged with advancing the University’s academic reputation and global standing, while championing the direction outlined in the strategic plan for the remaining period of the 2012-2017 plan and beyond. Pursuant to Statute 5(a) “The Vice Chancellor shall be ex-officio Chair of the Senate and, save in the case of committees under Statute 10.4 and of excepted Committees, of all committees of the Council and Senate provided that the Vice-Chancellor may appoint any person being a member of the University to be Chair of any such Committee.” The Vice Chancellor, by Statute 6, is charged with maintaining and promoting the efficiency and good order of the University for which the Vice-Chancellor shall be responsible to the Council. In concert with Campus principals, he provides strategic direction and leadership and helps to position and present The University internationally, nationally and regionally. He works closely with the campuses to ensure a coherent vision across all the constituent parts of the University so that its governance, management and administration are efficient and effective. He also carries out important ceremonial and civic duties including officiating at matriculation and degree ceremonies.


About Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Before assuming the office of Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies on May 1, 2015, Professor Sir Hilary was Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados for thirteen years (2002-2015). Sir Hilary has emerged as a distinguished university administrator, internationally reputed Economic Historian, and transformational leader in higher education. He has had a spectacular journey within The UWI, entering as a temporary assistant lecturer in 1979 at the Mona campus. In short time he was promoted to senior lecturer and then to the rank of Reader. In 1991, at age 36, he was promoted to a Personal Professorship, then the youngest in the history of the university.

The international recognition of his competence has been global. He is Vice President of the International Task force for the UNESCO Slave Route Project; a consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme; and in 2014 was appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, to his inaugural United Nations Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board on sustainable development.

Sir Hilary is, in addition, a respected playwright and member of the theatre community. Eight of his plays have been staged to popular acclaim. In the corporate community his footprint is well established. He is a long serving director of Sagicor Financial Corporation, and has served as a director of its principal subsidiaries Sagicor Jamaica Ltd, and Sagicor Barbados Ltd. He is a director of Cable and Wireless Barbados Ltd, and is Chairman of The University of the West Indies Press.

 Sir Hilary received his higher education in the United Kingdom and graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Economic and Social History from Hull University in 1976, and a PhD from the same university in 1980. He has received numerous awards including Honorary Doctor of Letters (Brock); (Glasgow); (Hull); (KNUST), in recognition of his major contribution to academic research into transatlantic slavery, popular culture, and sport. He is an editor of the UNESCO General History of Africa series.


Sir Hilary was made a Commander Knight of St Andrew (KA), Barbados’ highest honour, in recognition of his distinguished service in the field of education, in particular at university level, and his dedication to the furtherance of the arts and sport in particular cricket. He has lectured extensively in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas and has published more than ten academic books including Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Slavery in the Caribbean (2013); Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society (1999); White Servitude and Black Slavery in Barbados 1627-1715 (1990); The History of Barbados (1990); Natural Rebels: A History of Enslaved Black Women in the Caribbean (1989); The Development of West Indies Cricket: Volume One, The Age of Nationalism; and Volume Two, The Age of Globalisation, (1999); A Nation Imagined: The First West Indies Test Team: The 1928 Tour (2003).


He is Chairman of the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice. Sir Hilary is Founder and Director of the CLR James Centre for Cricket Research at Cave Hill Campus, and a former member of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). He is Founder and inaugural Chairman of the Sagicor High Performance Cricket Academy of the WICB. He is also Vice President of the Commonwealth Sports Ministers advisory body on Sport and Development. He is an Editor of UNESCO’s General History of Africa, and has conceptualised the “Global Africa” theme for this series. On April 10, 2015 Sir Hilary was honoured by the Borough of Brooklyn, New York, for "extraordinary achievements, outstanding leadership and his contribution to the community…"


About The University of the West Indies

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a fully-fledged, regional University with over 50,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with three physical campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus. The UWI serves 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. The UWI’s faculty and students come from more than 40 countries and The University has collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation.  Website: |(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)


For further information on the Vice-Chancellor’s Installation please contact the University Marketing and Communications Office at 868-662-2002 Ext. 82316 or Chelston Lovell, Communications Officer, UWI Cave Hill Campus at or 246-417-4076.






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