UWI Graduation Address 2007

Address by the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica
His Excellency Dr. Nicholas Joseph Orville Liverpool D.A.H.

Graduation Ceremony
University of the West Indies
Cave Hill Campus
Barbados
27th October, 2007


His Excellency Sir Clifford Husbands, and Lady Husbands
Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica
Mr. Anthony Wood Minister of Education of Barbados
Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps
Chancellor Sir George Alleyne, and Lady Alleyne

Chancellor Emeritus, Sir Shridath Ramphal
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris

Chairman of the Campus Council Sir Neville Nichols, and Lady Nichols
Pro Vice Chancellor, and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Professor Hilary Beckles

Principals of other Campuses

Other officials of the University

Fellow Honorary Graduand

Members of the graduating Class

Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen.

Introduction

I am delighted to be here with you today, and I am particularly thrilled to be sharing this moment with a distinguished colleague whose professional ability I have always admired.

I consider it to be an honour and a great privilege to receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws conferred on me by this University, This is the most meaningful recognition that I have ever received and I feel really proud and flattered. I am also extremely pleased that I have been afforded the opportunity to address this graduation ceremony.

My heartfelt thanks are extended to the University and all those who have made this occasion possible, and in particular to the Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of this Campus and his staff for the excellent arrangements which have been made for my visit here on this memorable occasion.

The University

Since my departure from the University in 1995 this Campus has undergone some very significant changes. The physical expansion of the Campus, the development of infrastructure, the increased versatility of its academic programming, the improved teaching and research facilities and the variety of social services that are now available, are very remarkable indeed.

I applaud the Government and people of Barbados for their investment in, and partnership with, the University, and I commend the Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal whose zeal and fervour have contributed in large measure to the positive changes that have taken place here over the last few years. With such high quality programmes and facilities, Cave Hill is now well poised to compete with first class international universities at all levels.

I am also very impressed and encouraged by two of the most recent developments of this University as they demonstrate its commitment to human resource development. The first is in the provision of scholarships to the indigenous people of the OECS to pursue higher education. This is of particular significance to my country Dominica which, as you may know, is home to approximately three thousand Kalinagos. Our indigenous Carib Indians need this prospect now more than ever, as they strive towards making a more meaningful contribution to the economic development of their communities and their country.

The second is the University's open campus initiative which, as I understand it, will provide greater opportunities for students who are not served by the three campuses, and will meet with their contemporary demands in the face of growing competition from an increasing number of other providers of tertiary education.

The prospects for higher learning made available to Dominica by Universities in Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico and the United States for example far outnumber those offered by the University of the West Indies. This University needs to be more accessible to Caribbean students seeking higher education. It is my expectation, therefore, that students from the non-campus territories will take full advantage of the opportunity to access quality higher education in a familiar Caribbean environment as will be offered by the Open Campus.

The Graduands

Members of the Graduating Class you are about to cross the threshold to a more challenging world where the mere acquisition of a first, or any degree for that matter, will not automatically open all doors for you. Today, a degree is not what it used to be. Years ago, with a first degree one was almost guaranteed a good job either in the public or the private sector.

Things have changed dramatically since then as employers now have a much larger pool of graduates to choose from. But you are educated to take your destiny into your own hands, so that with God's help and the wisdom in applying the knowledge what you have recently acquired, you will have to try to create and fashion a career for yourself as you perceive it.

I extend my sincere congratulations on your achievements. I must, however remind you that this graduation ceremony is not an end of itself; rather it is a new beginning. We now live in a more competitive world; rapid technological advancement as well as increased global challenges in areas such as medicine, the environment, good governance and security and social inequalities, demand that education be an ongoing process. This is the only way in which you will be able to equip yourselves to deal with challenges such as new and re-emerging diseases, the global convergence of information and communication technologies and the new threats to security.

Always remember that education is a process that never ends. A University education merely opens up the mind for life long learning. Therefore in developing your career, continuous professional development is a must. This will enable you effectively to contribute your quota to the development of your countries in this dynamic and globalised age.

I encourage you therefore to take with a great degree of seriousness the responsibilities that come with your graduation from this University. Let hard work and discipline be your guide. Consider the inspirational words of Khalil Gibran in his literary work, The Prophet -

"you work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become stranger unto the seasons and to step out of life's procession that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite."

There is always room at the top. In many institutions in Commonwealth Caribbean states and societies, contemporary historical developments are creating such vacancies in Government and Politics, Industry and Commerce, Agriculture and Tourism, and Journalism and Broadcasting, to name a few. These positions need to be filled by trained men and women with the discipline to work hard alone, or with others. Men and women who are endowed with compassion, integrity and humanity. These positions will fall to be occupied by those of you who satisfy those qualities and capabilities.

I urge you to prove yourselves in whatever career path you choose to follow. Go out and make a difference in your communities, your countries, the Caribbean and the world. Be an integral part of the development process in your respective countries. Get involved in positive social activities, set examples for those who look up to you as role models. Prove to your Alma Mater, your families and your countries that UWI graduates are among the brightest and best. They expect no less from you.

As potential leaders of the future, I implore you to be ambassadors in the crusade to fight ignorance and poverty. You must be bold in upholding the dignity of your respective countries, and join the fight to stamp out corrupt practices whenever and wherever you may find them. You must also ensure that you use the training that you have acquired at this University prudently.

For those of you who succeed in your career whether sooner or later, please remember that the greatest attribute of a winner is humility. You must have great pride in whatever you achieve, but you must never lose sight of where you came from. You must always retain a humble outlook towards the world as you face whatever challenges that confront you.

Finally, I urge you to join the UWI Alumni Associations that exist in your countries and also encourage our High School and College students to make the University of the West Indies their university of choice for higher education.

The recent revival of the Dominica Chapter of the UWI Alumni Association through the hard work and unwavering efforts of its Resident Tutor revealed a wealth of knowledge and talent (a veritable think tank) that exists among UWI graduates in Dominica. This, I feel sure, must also be the case in the other territories that are served by this University. Go forth, therefore, and establish or support active UWI Alumni Associations wherever you may be, as I am convinced that this is the best means of establishing a lifelong relationship between a University and its graduates. This will also ensure that the University continues to fulfill its developmental role in our societies.

Despite all that I have said, however, as you venture into the unknown I encourage you to be yourselves and never forget life's simple pleasures.

Once again I congratulate you on your achievement.

Mr. Chancellor, I pray that God’s continued blessings will be showered on this University and that its efforts will always be crowned with success.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you all for the courtesy of your kind attention.