The fifth Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Sir George Alleyne, was the first UWI alumnus to fill the prestigious position of Chancellor. Sir George is the quintessential 'UWI man', with a long record of outstanding service to his beloved alma mater. His association with The UWI did not end at graduation – he joined the staff of The UWI Tropical Metabolism Research Unit at the Mona Campus in 1962. Within 10 years he had risen to Professor of Medicine and was Chair of the Department of Medicine when he left in 1981 to take up an appointment with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
He brought to the role of Chancellor a deep understanding of the challenges faced by developing countries as well as a profound commitment to and love of The University of the West Indies, which he saw as critical to the development of the English-speaking Caribbean countries it serves. Sir George is a widely read scholar of the classics. His graduation speeches, which he crafted himself and to which he gave iconic titles, were therefore imbued with a unique appreciation of a wide swathe of human experiences, including of the role and development of universities in general.
He always took the longer view, rather than become overly concerned with current difficulties. He had words of advice not only for the graduates, but also for the parents of the graduates, the University Administration, the contributing governments and the alumni.
Sir George's speeches can be considered a road-map tracing the responses by the institution to the varied challenges over the fourteen-year period and guiding it by gently reinforcing its mission and vision.The University captured for posterity the sagacity of this Caribbean Renaissance man. It is hoped that this publication will be a lasting memento of the inimitable way he carried out his role as Chancellor. The UWI is indebted to him and we thank Sir George for his service.
Edited by Cecile Clayton, Voices of the Pelican: Graduation Speeches by UWI Chancellor, Professor the Honourable Sir George Alleyne, 2003–2016 was officially launched on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at the E. Nigel Harris Council Room, The University of the West Indies, Regional Headquarters Building.