The UWI Launches 75th Anniversary Celebrations

Dr Maurice Smith, The UWI Registrar

University Registrar and Chair of The UWI 75th Anniversary Planning Committee, Dr. Maurice D. Smith gives details on the initiatives planned to commemorate The UWI’s 75th Diamond Jubilee milestone, at a Media Launch hosted at The UWI Regional Headquarters in Jamaica on Friday, January 6, 2023.

The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica W.I. Friday January 6, 2023—“The 75th anniversary of The University of the West Indies is about to be a magnificent year.” These sentiments came from Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles as well as University Registrar and Chief Administrative Officer, Dr. Maurice D. Smith during a media briefing held on Friday January 6, to launch the University’s 75th anniversary being commemorated throughout 2023.

This year marks 75 years since the official opening of its first UWI Campus in Mona, Jamaica.

“I believe The UWI has lived up to its promise,” said Chancellor Robert Bermudez. He continued, “However, much more can be done and must be done. We will need the active involvement of all members of our community… to ensure that The UWI continues to produce the high quality research and graduates for which it has become known.”

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles noted, “What an extraordinary journey it has been. 75 years of service to our Caribbean world. 75 years of commitment to nation building. 75 years of driving forward economic and social transformation and development.” Describing the moment as one of “reflection and projection,” Vice-Chancellor Beckles underscored, “The overarching focus, however, speaks to the need for a future development paradigm for the Caribbean. We are using the frame: The State of the Caribbean – Vision, Strategy and Leadership.” He concluded, “We have much to be proud of, we have much to celebrate. Indeed, it is the dignity of our collective achievement that will be the fuel for the propulsion into the future we desire.”

During the media briefing some of the regional university’s government partners endorsed the celebrations, by declaring Saturday, January 7 as “UWI Day”. The day, commemorated by a series of proclamations, signals the official start of UWI 75th anniversary celebrations under the theme: UWI at 75. Rooted. Ready. Rising. The proclamations invite all citizens of the Caribbean to “reflect on the achievements of this important institution and to participate actively in the celebratory activities that will be held throughout this anniversary year.”

On January 7, 1947, the governing body of the University College of the West Indies—a branch of the University of London intended to serve British colonies—assembled for its first meeting in the House of the British Council in Jamaica. It was at this first meeting that a decision was taken for lands at Mona, Jamaica to be used for establishing the first campus of The University of the West Indies. One year later, on October 3, 1948, the Campus welcomed its first class of 33 medical students.
The UWI’s 75th anniversary initiatives are purposely designed and aligned to reflect on its past, confront the present, and articulate plans for its future across all five campuses as well as internationally, through partner associations and affiliates. The first event carded following UWI Day is an Interfaith Convocation Service at the University Chapel at the Mona Campus on January 8 which will be broadcast live via the University’s public information platform, UWItv.

Dr. Maurice D. Smith, University Registrar and Chief Administrative Officer explained, “As a university rooted in the Caribbean with global reach, we know that many share the pride and outstanding accomplishments of our wonderful academy. As Chair of The UWI 75th Anniversary Planning Committee, I invite all our faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners regionally and internationally as well anyone with an affinity to The University of the West Indies, to join us in celebrating our beloved UWI.”

The UWI community is invited to visit the anniversary website, for the anniversary calendar which continues to be updated regularly, and also take the opportunity to share their UWI memories and experiences.