Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 30th 2014 Contents BG12 VERBATIM
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 2014 • WEEK FIVE
The following is an
address by Business
RONALD SANDERS to
the graduands of the Fac-
ulty of Social Sciences of
the St Augustine campus
of The University of the
West Indies on the occa-
sion of the conferment
upon him of the honorary
degree of Doctor of Let-
ters (D Litt) on October
and Principal of
the St Augustine
of the academic staff, distinguished
ladies and gentlemen.
I consider myself a consummate
I was born in Guyana with
Antiguan antecedents on my
I have been pleased to live and
work in five Caribbean countries,
I helped to start and was a mem-
ber of the board of the three
Caribbean wide organisations: early
in my career, the Caribbean News
Agency and the Broadcasting
Union, and later the Caribbean
Financial Action Task Force against
Money Laundering and Drug Traf-
Of the latter two, I had the hon-
our to serve as chairman.
In my diplomatic life as an elect-
ed member of the executive board
of UNESCO; as a negotiator for
small and vulnerable economies at
the World Trade Organisation; and
as an adviser to the World Bank
and the Commonwealth secretariat
on small states, I worked for the
entire Caribbean---and more par-
ticularly---the West Indies, which
I regard as my country, my home,
my native land.
But circumstances did not permit
me to attend this university; those
circumstances took me to other
universities in other lands.
I am acutely aware, therefore,
that while I have long been a great
admirer of the UWI, I am a stranger
to its halls.
All the more reason, Chancellor,
why I am very grateful to the Coun-
cil of the University for the honour
they have conferred upon me by
making me a doctor of the univer-
I have been the recipient of other
honours including two knighthoods
and membership of the Order of
Australia; each has been special to
me and I value them highly.
But, I confess that I value this
honorary degree by the University
of the West Indies as especially
distinctive, for it comes from an
institution that, more than any
other, represents the oneness of
the West Indian people and the
singular value of their unity; two
things in which I firmly believe and
am resolutely committed.
To be recognised by the West
Indian people s university is an
honour I shall cherish for the rest
of my life.
I thank the public orator for his
generous words and I thank you---
today s graduands---for allowing
me the privilege of sharing this
ceremony with you.
To all of you graduands, my
Here you are today, about to be
certified by the University of the
Recalling my own university
days, it may be just as well that
the UWI certifies only academic
I am sure many of you are enti-
tled to be certified in other fields
There is nothing wrong with
It was all part of the university
experience without which your
sojourn in its halls would have failed
to prepare you for the rest of the
lives upon which you are about to
You have made many people
proud, particularly your parents,
your family and your close friends
who supported you.
Today is as much their day as it
They, too, deserve recognition
and congratulations for staying the
course with you, and I invite you
to honour publicly all that they
have done by applauding their sup-
Can you imagine the relief that
some of your families are feeling?
All their doubts and fears are
Finally, they can look forward to
scratching you off their monthly
The joy won t last forever: tap
them for a final loan now.
Customs officers at airports are
usually emotionless and unfriendly
But two nights ago when I told
the Customs officer at Piarco Air-
port that I was here to participate
in the UWI s graduating cere-
monies, his stern posture melted
away, and with tears welling up in
his eyes, he proudly announced
Ronald Sanders advises:
Preserve, strengthen a West Indian
environment of togetherness
that he had just come from attending
his daughter s graduation with a Master s
I got a warm handshake, a joyous
smile and a free pass to boot.
So, thank you, the UWI.
record EU funding
Graduands, you are emerging from a
remarkable institution; and you should
be proud of the degree you attained.
Against all the odds, the UWI is
among the first 800 universities in the
Given that there are about 20,000
universities globally, that puts the UWI
among the first five per cent.
Recognising the small population size
of our region, the paucity of resources
and the fact that government funding
for research is almost non-existent,
being among the first five per cent of
universities globally is a remarkable
The UWI, as a regional university,
has won more grants from the European
Union than any other university in the
79-nation African, Caribbean and Pacific
That is no mean feat.
Having spent a period of my diplo-
matic life negotiating with EU bodies
for funding for national and regional
projects for the Caribbean, I know the
testing---almost forbidding standards---
that the EU sets.
The UWI s success with the EU,
therefore, is testimony to the high quality
of the projects it has put forward and
the intellectual thoroughness of its cor-
In the last decade, the university s
enrolment has grown from 22,000 to
more than 47,000 students and appli-
cations increased between 2006 and
2013 from 16,000 to 30,000.
The university has coped with this
rightful demand by West Indian people
for higher learning in the face of inad-
equate funding and competition from
new national universities and from for-
There are areas of research in which
the university has international standing
among them, sustainable development
in small island states; early childhood
development, select areas in law, marine
and environmental studies.
One can only imagine how many
more areas of valuable research for the
region the UWI could have developed
if it had the funding of governments
that it deserves.
Few universities can be good at every-
thing but, as Vice Chancellor Nigel Har-
ris once remarked to me, the UWI has
"peaks of excellence in which it is glob-
ally visible and about which we can be
proud as a region".
So, in being pleased with yourselves,
be proud of the university that you have
been privileged to attend.
It has given you an enviable education
in spite of the considerable challenges
In all this, you owe a debt to the men
and women on this platform who have
dedicated their lives to teaching, to
imparting knowledge, and to preparing
this West Indian generation, of which
you are a part, to participate meaning-
fully in a highly competitive world.
They, too, should be applauded;
applauded particularly by you---today s
graduands---who are the fruits of their
labour in the vineyard of Caribbean
I enjoin you to do so.
I make one further point about this
It has added considerable value to
the talent of thousands of Caribbean
citizens who now work in high-flying
positions in developed countries.
That is a measure of how good the
The university has also produced
many of our region s present leaders in
government and in the private sector.
It has also produced a multitude of
men and women who are putting the
knowledge they acquired in this insti-
tution to work for the betterment of
Without this university and all that
it does, our region would not have
Continued on Page 13
Business Guardian columnist, Ronald Sanders, left, receives as honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the
University of the West Indies on October 25, 2014.
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