At The UWI, graduation is always a cause for celebration, as some of the brightest, most talented, and most socially conscious young Caribbean people emerge from the halls of learning that have shaped them and helped them discover their truest potential and purpose. These marked the first graduation ceremonies officiated by Chancellor Robert Bermudez.
Seventeen influencers who have made outstanding contributions regionally and internationally within their respective fields were awarded honorary degrees this year. As is tradition, the honorary graduates represented a cross-section of eminent persons in the arts, sciences and other fields of intellectual endeavour.
The American Foundation for The University of West Indies (AFUWI) held its annual gala event in February 2018 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The black-tie affair which raises funds for scholarships attracted a range of UWI alumni, partners and supporters.
As is the custom, influencers, entrepreneurs and celebrities with Caribbean roots were honoured. This year's honourees included entrepreneur Patrick Hylton; Guyanese-American actor CCH Pounder; Jamaican author Marlon James; designer and celebrity stylist Angela Yee; actress and radio host June Ambrose; and Grenadian-born celebrity publicist Yvette Noel Schure.
There was also a special tribute to the Late Dr. Lowell Hawthorne, CD, LLD (The UWI), the former President and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill and former Chairman of the AFUWI's Board of Directors.
The event which is now in its 21st year, provides approximately 50 scholarships annually for students across The UWI's four campuses.
AFUWI, a registered US charity, raises funds and secures sustainable support for its scholarship programme, and for development projects at The UWI. It is also committed to building awareness about The UWI in the USA as an excellent global university rooted in the Caribbean, and promotes the importance of education as pathway for progress for the peoples of the Caribbean. Between 2009 and 2018, AFUWI has contributed cash grants amounting to US $570,000, scholarships worth US$900,000, benefiting 300 students, who have received tuition scholarships ranging from US$2,500- $5,000. It has also secured in-kind donations of approximately US$3.1 M for dental equipment, books, computers, CDs, furniture, medical and hospital supplies.
The UWI Institutional Advancement Division held its ninth Toronto Benefit Gala in April 2018. At the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, under the sponsorship of Scotiabank, five prominent persons and one institution were honoured. They were Ambassador Susan E. Rice, who served in US President Barack Obama's administration; Mr. Masai Ujiri, President of the National Basketball Association's (NBA's) Toronto Raptors; Dr. Victor S. Blanchette, a medical doctor and professor at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto; educator and author Dr. Avis Glaze; Dr. Michael S. Pollanen, Chief Forensic Pathologist for Ontario; and the YMCA of Canada.
Under the theme Light, Learning and Liberty, the benefit gala brought together Canada's business and academic communities to celebrate the work of the honourees, and raise funds for outstanding students in the Caribbean who otherwise might not have the chance to pursue higher learning.
The prestigious UWI Vice-Chancellor's Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards ceremony was held at The Usain Bolt Sports Complex, Cave Hill Campus. Present were representatives from all campuses, as well as noted regional academics and athletes, such as the legendary cricketer, Sir Everton Weekes.
From a field of UWI student athletes who exemplify not only excellence in their chosen athletic disciplines, but also fulfil stringent academic criteria while personifying the spirit of the University through volunteerism and participation in campus life emerged Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year —Ms. Brittany Joseph and Mr. Fedrick Dacres , from the St. Augustine and Mona Campuses respectively.
In the past few years, The UWI has channelled much of its energy into sports-related initiatives intended to harness, channel and grow the wealth of athletic talent within the Caribbean region.
At the awards ceremony, Head of the Academy of Sports, Cave Hill, Mrs. Amanda Reifer, spoke of recent developments intended to enhance student life and performance, such as the introduction of a student athlete mentorship programme and peer counselling, which fosters a better balance between their academic and sporting commitments.
In addition to the unifying aspect of sport among West Indian people, and its role in creating a regional cultural identity, it has also brought respect to the region in international forums. Students and alumni have performed creditably at the highest international levels, including the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
The perpetual drive for funding for needy and deserving students received a boost when Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Honourable P.J. Patterson, donated US $100,000 to establish an endowment fund towards scholarships and bursaries for students at the Mona Campus in April 2018. Mr. Patterson is a patron of The UWI Global Giving campaign.
The annual Vice-Chancellor's Awards for Excellence are always a celebration of self, in which The UWI looks inwards, takes account of its many achievements, and recognises members of its academic staff for exceptional performance and achievements.
At the ceremony celebrating the 2017/2018 period, The UWI awarded eight recipients for work in areas including education, research, public service and collaboration. The ceremony was held the Mona Campus' Visitors' Lodge and Conference Centre in Jamaica.