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The following is a Tribute to Oliver Clarke by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI).

Any tribute to Oliver Clarke should depart from his renowned trademark; the sharp, critical mind, spiced with a mischievous “wicked wit” and gentle charm of character.  So deeply embedded were these effervescent elements it’s now challenging imagining the end of Oliver’s innings at the wicket.

In recent years he batted brilliantly for The University of the West Indies. There were several invitations to his famed Gleaner breakfast meetings to share and discuss The UWI’s strategies and resource needs with stakeholders. We appreciated the many meals over which we mulled over the details of our strategic plan. OFC came on board to support our industry-academic partnership and our preparations to take The UWI to market in search of private sector investment.

A high point in proof of our partnering came in 2018. His commitment was tested. He rose beyond the parameters of our request, and offered us the opportunity for the University to showcase its enormous legacy during its 70th anniversary. The University was offered full editorial freedom over a Gleaner supplement that enabled it to tell its story and to project its thinking about the future.

Oliver didn’t suffer foolishness in his rush to support and promote good works.  In this regard, he was an effective advisor, and a reliable ally.  Private business was his life and hallmark. The University, he urged, should build a two-way bridge to business. We were bonded in our commitment to this project.

And what a gentleman. No dinner or lunch to which he was invited went by for long without the host receiving a card of appreciation. I shall miss this hugely misunderstood man.

And so, far too soon, the “wicked wit” man left the wicket. What an outstanding innings played for his family, country and region!




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