UWI chan­cel­lor grate­ful for time in of­fice

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS -

SIR GE­ORGE Al­leyne has, for the past 13 years, dili­gently stood for hours greet­ing, with hearty smiles and mini con­ver­sa­tions, the more than 74,000 grad­u­ates of the Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies (UWI) who, decked in caps, hoods and gowns, crossed plat­forms to col­lect their de­grees.

On Satur­day evening at the Mona cam­pus, where he ob­tained his med­i­cal de­gree in 1957, the highly re­garded Bar­ba­dian pro­fes­sor of medicine shook the last pair of such hands as, at the end of this aca­demic year, he will demit of­fice as chan­cel­lor and cer­e­mo­nial head of the 68-year-old re­gional in­sti­tu­tion.

“In these past 13 years, our chan­cel­lor has con­ducted these cer­e­monies, and, in­deed, all as­pects of the of­fice of chan­cel­lor with pre­ci­sion and panache and with dig­nity and dis­tinc­tion,” said Sir Hilary Beck­les, the vice-chan­cel­lor and ad­min­is­tra­tive head of the UWI.

“Our chan­cel­lor has had a jour­ney of ex­cel­lence within our uni­ver­sity and be­yond. He was a bril­liant stu­dent of medicine, an ex­cel­lent pro­fes­sor of medicine, a gen­er­ous and en­gaged alum­nus and a su­perbly ef­fec­tive chan­cel­lor. Simply put, our chan­cel­lor has been out­stand­ing!”

Re­spond­ing, Al­leyne, 84, known for his wit and charm, cred­ited his Ja­maican wife, Dr Syl­van Al­leyne, the uni­ver­sity and a host of other peo­ple for their sup­port over the years.

“(Be­com­ing chan­cel­lor) is the high­est hon­our that can be be­stowed on an alum­nus, and I’m grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to have served the uni­ver­sity in this ca­pac­ity over the last 13 years,” he said.

OP­POR­TU­NITY TO BOND

In his speech, he em­pha­sised why he made greet­ing each grad­u­ate a ma­jor part of his job, which had come to in­clude ap­pear­ing at 13 grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies each year spread across the Open Cam­pus, Cave Hill in Bar­ba­dos, St Au­gus­tine in Trinidad and Tobago, and Mona in Ja­maica

“To be able to shake hands with grad­u­ates is an op­por­tu­nity to bond across the years and, in a sense, when my­self and the gra­date are shak­ing hands, we are al­most in a tiny co­coon of his­tory. Co­coon – the sym­bol­ism of which goes back to the Mid­dle Ages when shak­ing of hands meant the idea of trust and con­fi­dence in one an­other, and that is why I shake the grad­u­ates’ hands,” Sir Ge­orge said.

“Of course, I’ll miss it,” he said of his de­par­ture from the top post.

“Of course, I’ll miss the shin­ing faces, of course. I’ll miss con­grat­u­lat­ing the peo­ple who’ve got­ten first-class hon­ours, of course. I’ll miss the joy in their faces, of course. I’ll miss be­ing of ser­vice to the uni­ver­sity. Have I kept the faith? I have tried to keep the faith as I ran the course.”

Along with his il­lus­tri­ous aca­demic ca­reer, Al­leyne also served as di­rec­tor of the Pan Amer­i­can Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion and as the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral’s spe­cial en­voy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.

Sir Ge­orge wished the uni­ver­sity well and pointed to work he said still needs to be done, such as com­bat­ing the den­i­gra­tion of women in pop­u­lar mu­sic.

AL­LEYNE

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