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Professor Sir Hilary Beckles thanks UWI staff for contributions  to building an ‘excellent university’

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles (centre) pictured with the 2018/2019 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence awardees.

Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. 21 October 2019—The University of the West Indies’ (The UWI) is celebrating its recently announced surge in ranking among the world’s top universities, validating its vision of being an excellent global university. And on Wednesday, October 16, the regional academy also celebrated some outstanding staff for their professional achievements and contributions towards the University’s high performance, at the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.

Considered one of the annual highlights of The UWI calendar, the prestigious ceremony was presided by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles who presented academic, senior administrative, and professional staff with awards for excellence in teaching, research, service to the university community, and public service, or a combination of areas. The Awards Ceremony which rotates annually across the University’s campuses was held at Cave Hill this year. 

“The concept of excellence is not a simple one. It is not simply about achievement”, said Vice-Chancellor Beckles during his remarks. “It is about the location of that achievement within the context of the evolution of a civilisation and the move towards sustaining it.” 

He defined that the measure of an excellent university is one that is committed to all of the big conversations, challenges and all the major shortfalls that need to be remedied in a society. He stated, “and therefore when we celebrate the excellence of our colleagues, we are celebrating them within the context of all of these discourses and their special effort and commitment towards achieving all of these objectives.” 

Addressing the Awardees directly, Vice-Chancellor Beckles said, “I wish to thank you for all that you’ve done not only for yourselves but for us a University.”

The evening’s programme also included remarks from Dr. Maurice D. Smith, University Registrar, Professor V. Eudine Barriteau, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, 

Professor Stephan Gift, Pro Vice-Chancellor Graduate Studies and Research and Chair of the Selection Committee and citations of the awards read by Mr. Jeff Cumberbatch, Public Orator at the Cave Hill Campus.

In a response on behalf of the awardees, Professor Justin Robinson who was recognised for excellence in ‘Public Service & Service to University’ also expressed a message of gratitude. He stated, “I want to thank the leadership for continuing to seek to be such a high quality university. I also want to commend Caribbean governments and our various stakeholders for continuing to provide the support for excellence at UWI. A University of the type that is The UWI is not a cheap endeavour and I really want to encourage Caribbean governments and our stakeholders to continue to provide the support that The UWI needs if it is to be excellent.”

A complete list of the categories and for 2018/2019 awardees follows:


  • Dr Aisha Spencer, School of Education, Mona Campus


  • Dr Adesh Ramsubhag, Department of Life Sciences, St Augustine Campus
  • Dr Georgiana Gordon-Strachan, Caribbean Institute for Health Research, Mona Campus


  • Professor Justin Robinson, Faculty of Social Sciences, Cave Hill Campus


  • Professor Ann Marie Bissessar, Faculty of Social Sciences, St Augustine Campus


  • Dr O. Peter Adams, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Cave Hill Campus and Professor Rohan G. Maharaj, Faculty of Medical Sciences, St. Augustine Campus—Principal Investigators with the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN) and the Yale Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centre for Health Disparities Research focused on Precision Medicine (Yale-TCC).
  • Dr Saran Stewart, School of Education, Mona Campus for her work with the Global Access to Postsecondary Education (GAPS) initiative.

More about the Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

The University of the West Indies’ Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence programme was established in 1993 by Sir Alister McIntyre, then Vice-Chancellor, to recognise outstanding achievements by Academic staff members in the areas of Teaching, Research, Service to the University Community, Contribution to Public Service, and All-round Excellence in a combination of two or more of the areas. In 2003, the recognition scheme was expanded to include Senior Administrative and Professional staff, and in 2012 the Vice-Chancellor’s Departmental Award for Excellence was introduced to recognise departments and units in the area of quality assurance excellence. In 2016/2017, two new awards were added for Excellence in Multi-Campus Research Collaboration (the One UWI Award) and Excellence in International Collaboration (the Globalisation Award). All awardees, having proven themselves exemplars in their respective pursuits, are presented with a citation and a monetary prize. The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence is one of the highlights on the University’s calendar. The ceremony takes on added significance under the leadership of current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, who was one of the recipients of the inaugural Award.

About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018 and 2019.The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. For more, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)


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