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The University of the West Indies will award thirteen honorary degrees at graduation ceremonies to be held at its three campuses at Cave Hill, Barbados, Mona, Jamaica and St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, later this year.

The awardees at the Mona Campus are President of Catalyst Research Corporation in Houston, Texas, Dr. John Ewen, Director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Centre, Dr. Franklyn G. Prendergast, and noted botanist, Dr. George Richardson Proctor, who will all receive the Doctor of Science (DSc) degree, and Director of Archives in the Ministry of Education and Youth, Bahamas, Dr. Gail Saunders, OBE, who will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD).

At the Cave Hill Campus, High Court Judge in Grenada, Justice Monica Joseph, OBE and Businessman, Mr. Kyffin Simpson, will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD), while the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) will be conferred on former Pro Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Zambia, Michael Kelly and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Dr. Cristina Leske.

Earlier this year, former Prime Minister of Barbados, Sir Harold St. John, had accepted the offer of the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the University of the West Indies. Unfortunately, Sir Harold has since passed away, but his widow, Lady St. John has been invited to receive the Honorary Degree on his behalf at one of the Cave Hill ceremonies.

The awardees at the St. Augustine Campus will be Trinidadian Sculptor, Dr. Ralph Baney, who will receive the Doctor of Letters (DLitt), Businessman, Nazir Ahmad and Roman Catholic Priest and Educator, Father Anthony De Verteuil, who will both receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) and Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and Under Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr. Peter Piot who will receive the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc.)

Dr. John Ewen, a Jamaican, is the President, Catalyst Research Corporation, Houston, Texas and Metallocene Consultant with Montell and Basell Polyolefins: Heterocenes. He graduated from the UWI in 1972, with first class honours in BSc Chemistry and in 1979 obtained his Ph.D from Tulane University. His discoveries and inventions in the field of metallocene catalysis have revolutionized the production of polyethylene plastics. Dr. Ewen is an Industrial Research Chemist and Inventor and winner of the (USA) National Medal of Technology in 2001, the highest honour bestowed by the President of the USA on America’s leading inventors.

The world of marketing, producers and consumers of plastics has been drastically changed by Dr. Ewen’s innovations many of which are documented in 49 patents and over 24 articles in refereed journals.

Director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Centre, Dr. Franklyn Prendergast is also Jamaican and a distinguished graduate of the UWI having received his MBBS degree with honours in 1968. He studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and earned his BA and MA in Physiology; at the University of Minnesota where he earned his PhD in Biochemistry, and at the Mayo Graduate School for additional professional training.

In 1975, Dr. Prendergast became an Instructor in Physiology at the Mayo Medical School. He was later appointed Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor in Pharmacology. After his appointment as Consultant and Chair of the Mayo Foundation’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1985, he became a full Professor at the Mayo Medical School. From 1989-1993, he was Mayo’s Director of Research and in 1995 he was appointed Director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Centre. He has served on Mayo’s Board of Trustees since 1992 and on the Foundation Executive Committee. Dr. Prendergast is the 2004 recipient of the Gold Musgrave Medal.

Over the past 65 years, Dr. George Proctor has contributed outstandingly to the field of Botany in general, and specifically to the area of island flora taxonomy. An American, Dr. Proctor has written widely on the vegetation of the West Indies and the ferns of North America. Amongst the most notable of his publications are his contributions in Vol. 12 of the Encyclopedia Britannica on Jamaican vegetation, his seminal work on the vegetation of the Black River Morass, Cockpit country and the John Crow and Dolphin Head mountains in Jamaica and his identification of new species in the Flora of Barbados, Flora of the Lesser Antilles and New Plants from the Cayman Islands.

The establishment of the Mason River Field station in Clarendon, Jamaica and his contribution to the Institute of Jamaica which houses the largest herbarium in the island are significant independent initiatives which have become important national treasures.

For his work, Dr. Proctor has received an Honorary Doctorate from Florida International University (FIU), the Gold Musgrave Medal and Centenary Medal from the Institute of Jamaica and the Order of Jamaica.

Bahamian, Dr. Gail Saunders, OBE is presently Director of Archives, Ministry of Education and Youth, Bahamas. She has worked in the Archives since 1970 and served as Public Records Officer, Archivist and Chief Archivist. Dr. Saunders served as President of the Bahamas Historical Society and as Deputy Chairman of the Bahamas National Commission for the 500th Anniversary of the Discovery of the New World. She was President and former Secretary of the Association of Caribbean Historians and a former Secretary and Treasurer of the Caribbean Archives Association.

In 1998 she was History Consultant and Executive Producer of the film “Heritage: History and Culture of the Bahamas”.

Dr. Saunders has authored several books and articles and has served on several national, regional and international Boards and Committees. She is the recipient of many honours and awards including the Silver Jubilee Award for History by the Government of Bahamas, Distinguished Graduate of the UWI in 1998 and Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Justice Monica Joseph is Grenadian/Vincentian. She was admitted to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn, London 1966, served as Chairman of the Public Service Commission of Grenada, and is a former Judge of the Supreme Court in Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, serving in Anguilla, Dominica, British Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Montserrat. Justice Joseph was the first woman to be appointed to this post and to the OECS Court of Appeal. She further served as Deputy to the Governor General of Grenada, acted on Court of Appeal, OECS and served in Antigua, Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Grenada. She was the Sole Boundaries Commissioner and also Adjudication Officer of Tortola, British Virgin Islands and the Boundaries Commissioner of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Justice Joseph has been honoured by the World Girl Guide Association; by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association in recognition of her service to Netball; by the Mije Organisation of St. Vincent in recognition of service to women and young people in St. Vincent and she is a Commander of this Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Professor Michael Kelly was born in Ireland and has been a citizen of Zambia since 1969. He was formerly Professor of the Department of Educational Administration, Dean of the School of Education, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Zambia. He has been Visiting Fellow at the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) Paris and Consultant to numerous international agencies including the World Bank and UNESCO. He has been a Catholic Priest and Member of the Society of Jesus since 1946.

Professor Kelly received the 2003 Symons Award from the Association of Commonwealth Universities in recognition of “the breadth and depth of the contribution made to education in Zambia and particularly for the outstanding service given to the higher education world through HIV/AIDS advocacy” In 2002, UWI invited Professor Kelly to share his expertise with Faculty, students and the wider Caribbean society. He has had an enormous impact on the work being undertaken in the Caribbean. Together with Professor Brendan Bain and Vice Chancellor Nettleford, they developed the strategic framework to guide the response of education to the AIDS epidemic in the region, in a publication entitled “Education HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean”.

Dr. Cristina Leske, an American, is Distinguished Professor and Distinguished Service Professor (Preventive Medicine and Ophthalmology), Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her over 14 years of research collaboration with Barbados has done more than any other single scientist to put Barbados on the medical research map internationally in the field of eye diseases. Dr. Leske is nationally and internationally recognized for her outstanding work in both ophthalmic epidemiology and cancer epidemiology. She is a recognized leader in the fields of clinical trials, ethnic disparities in health and preventive medicine.

Dr. Leske has over 100 peer reviewed publications and over 200 abstracts and invited lectures. She is the recipient of many awards and honours.

It is expected that her new proposals for a tripartite collaboration between Stony Brook, the National Institute of Health and The University of the West Indies will go a long way to establishing the UWI as a Centre of Excellence in Medical and Scientific Research.

Barbadian Businessman, Mr. Kyffin Simpson, won a Caribbean franchise from Suzuki Motors in Japan and is now a main player in markets in Puerto Rico, the Eastern Caribbean and Belize. Being the first to establish a highly successful car dealership in the Eastern Caribbean, he is considered a role model in the private sector for companies wishing to penetrate global markets.

Mr. Simpson has established a reputation for investing in the development of his workers. He is associated with the development of the youth in areas of sport and popular culture. Quiet and unassuming, his philanthropic nature has contributed to several needy causes

He is a good friend of the Cave Hill Campus and makes important strategic contributions which enable the Campus to meet its planning objectives.

Trinidadian Sculptor, Dr. Ralph Baney, studied at Brighton College of Art, England, College of Ceramics, Alfred University New York and the University of Maryland, College Park. He is one of the most prolific and talented sculptors in the Caribbean. He has exhibited in Trinidad, Washington, New York, Baltimore, Brazil, Canada, and England. Between 1957 and 1986 he mounted eight one person exhibitions and from 1953 to the present, his work has been shown in over 150 group exhibitions. In 1974, he was elected member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and Member of the Sculptors Guild of New York and in 1984, Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.

His career includes being Art Officer, Ministry of Education and Culture, Trinidad and Tobago, Teaching Assistant at the University of Maryland, Summer School Instructor at the Smithsonian Institute, Participant in the International marble carving symposium Anandjelovac, Yugoslavia. Professor and Professor Emeritus of Community College Baltimore County, Dundalk.

In 1973 his name appeared in Who’s Who in American Art and that same year he was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Nazir Ahamad is an eminent leader in the business community in Trinidad and Tobago and contributes significantly to the social and economic development of the wider Caribbean region. He is Chairman of several leading organizations including the Neal and Massy Group, Universal Investments Ltd, Caribbean Finance Co. Ltd, Guardian Holdings Ltd, Caribbean Packaging Industries Ltd and Director of Agostini’s Limited.

Mr. Ahamad is a strong supporter of over 25 charitable organizations in Trinidad and Tobago. His businesses account for the employment of thousands in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.

He has received awards from the Ministry of Community Development and Gender Affairs; from the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre; and for his Distinguished Service to Trinidad and Tobago for devoted and valued contribution towards the individual and financial development of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2003 the Government of Trinidad and Tobago awarded him The Gold Chaconia Medal for Long and Meritorious Service in the field of Business.

Father Anthony De Verteuil is Trinidadian, a long serving Roman Catholic priest, an eminent educator and a prolific historian of Trinidad and Tobago. He received his BA Degree in English and History from Dublin. He was ordained as a priest in 1961.

Fr. De Verteuil is an educator par excellence. He joined the staff of St. Mary’s College, Trinidad’s leading Catholic boys’ school in 1963 and has given decades of faithful service. He has taught History, Geography and Religious Studies to generations of Trinidadian boys with outstanding success. He served as Principal of St. Mary’s College for 1978-1992 and after his retirement continues to teach ‘A’ Level classes in History and Geography. Fr. De Verteuil is a meticulous researcher and careful writer with a formidable output of publications which have enhanced the understanding of Trinidad’s history.

Dr. Peter Piot is Executive Director, of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and Under Secretary General of the United Nations. A Belgian, he is a Member of the Royal Academy of Medicine, Belgium, Member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, Washington and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London. During his Executive Directorship of UNAIDS he has been particularly attentive to the needs of the Caribbean and was one of the signatures of the original Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS and has always looked for ways to support Caribbean initiatives in this field.

Dr. Piot’s career includes having been Professor and Head, Department of Microbiology; Director, WHO Collaborating Centre on AIDS and National Aids Reference Centre; Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium; Professor of Public Health, Free University of Brussels; Director, Division of Research and International Development and Associate Director, Global Programme on AIDS, WHO, Geneva and Extraordinary Professor of Public Health, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Dr. Piot is the recipient of numerous prestigious international awards and the Member of several renowned Scientific Societies. He sits on scores of international Committees and Boards.

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