Sir Arthur Lewis Centenary Celebrations
Leading thinker and pioneer in development economics, Sir Arthur Lewis would have been 100 years old yesterday January 23, 2015. Although he died more than two decades ago, his work continues to generate global interest, particularly in the field of development economics and with respect to the outcomes of institutions and nations which have successfully applied policies which he proposed.
In recognition of his genius, achievements, and continuing relevance of his work, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) will observe the W. Arthur Lewis Centenary throughout 2015 under the theme: “Enduring Lessons for the Caribbean and Beyond.”
The Centenary’s observation was launched at the CDB’s headquarters on November 17 and included reflections and discussions on: “The Man”, “His Work and Legacy” and Lewis as a “Caribbean Thinker.”
Kick-starting the year’s activities was the 16th Annual Conference of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), celebrated as the W. Arthur Lewis Centennial under the theme: “Towards Caribbean Prosperity and Happiness in an Equitable and Sustainable World,” held January 14-16, 2015 in St. Lucia.
Speakers at the launch were Dr. William Warren Smith, President of the CDB; Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of UWI’s Cave Hill Campus, Barbados; Professor Compton Bourne, fourth president of the CDB and currently Executive Director of the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance at UWI’s St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad & Tobago; Sir Neville Nicholls, third president of the CDB; and Professor Mark Figueroa, Professorial Fellow, (SALISES) at the UWI’s, Mona Campus.
Dr. Smith described Sir Arthur as a pragmatist who made a great contribution to regional development.
Sir Arthur Lewis was the founding president of the Caribbean Development Bank serving from 1970 to 1973. He also had the distinction of being the first West Indian to be appointed Principal of the University College of the West Indies at Mona in 1959.
Under his leadership, the College was transformed into the University of the West Indies as an independent university in 1962. He became its first Vice Chancellor.
On the importance of the Centenary and remembering Sir Arthur Lewis, Professor Figueroa said: “It is important to get people to understand Sir Arthur Lewis and his contribution not so much for any of the particular proposals which he made but because of the spirit of confidence with which he approached the future and the methodologies that he adopted.
“In doing so he demonstrated that whatever one’s situation may be, one can identify a path forward that can lead to the resolution of the greatest of problems. This is precisely the spirit that we need today as we grapple with the challenges faced by Caribbean societies.”
On Thursday January 22 a wreath-laying ceremony for Sir Arthur Lewis took place here. It formed part of activities for Nobel Laureate Week in honor of Sir Arthur and Derek Walcott the Nobel Laureate for Literature. Both men were born on January 23.
Mr. Janai Leonce, an economist from the Ministry of Finance, delivers an address at the wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the Centenary of the birth of the Caribbean’s first Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis.