Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 3rd 2016 Contents 10 UWI TODAY -- SUNDAY 3RD JULY, 2016
EXIT INTERVIEW PROFESSOR CLEMENT SANKAT
On New Year's Day in 2008, Clement Krishnanand Sankat
was officially appointed Principal of the St. Augustine
Campus of e UWI. It had been nearly y years since
he had le Queen's College in Guyana on a government
scholarship to the Faculty of Engineering. He got his BSc
in 1972, receiving the Sir Solomon Hochoy Award for
best Mechanical Engineering student before returning to
the University of Guyana to lecture for a while and then
picking up a post-graduate scholarship to do a Master's
degree back at St. Augustine. A PhD at the University of
Guelph in Canada followed and by 1978 he was back at St.
Augustine for good.
As he re ects on how the time has passed, Professor
Sankat reckons that since leaving his family in Berbice as
a teenager he has spent practically his entire life living in
" is is my home," he says. "Where else?"
It is a couple of weeks before Professor Sankat hands
over the Principal's mantle to his successor, Professor Brian
Copeland on July 1. He has been discussing his two terms
in that o ce: eight years of his accomplishments, challenges
and the things he feels proud about leaving behind.
But he has reached a moment of nostalgia. It comes
when he speaks about his years at e UWI and how much
a part of his life it has been. People ask him if he is sad about
leaving the o ce of the Principal but it isn't about that at all.
People have to understand that when I le Guyana, I
was very young, he said. Once he came to Trinidad, rst
as a student in 1969, then as a lecturer, he never lived in
Guyana again. His wife, Dr. Rohanie Maharaj, is Trinidadian
and he has ve children, Sarisha, Nishal and Katyana; two
daughters, Olivia and Cecilia, live in Canada. e UWI and
Trinidad and Tobago, he says, shaped him intellectually,
morally and professionally. It is the place he considers home.
And if T&T is the place he considers home, then UWI must
be his favourite room in that house.
For it was at the St. Augustine Campus that he made
his way through the academic world of engineering. He
was Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Assistant Dean and then Dean of the Faculty of Engineering,
and was the Campus Coordinator, then Pro Vice-Chancellor
for Graduate Studies before taking over as PVC and Campus
Principal from Acting Principal, Professor Bridget Brereton.
It has been decades entrenched at the St. Augustine
Campus for him, forming bonds in all its nooks and crannies
as he navigated his way to the helm.
I asked him what he felt were the personal highlights
of his career.
"I think the highlight of my career is contributing
to development in my area of research; my contribution
to university, country and region. While I have served at
every level of this campus in administration, that was not
my calling. e highlights of my career, the things that gave
me the most pleasure, were associated with my research
in food, in agriculture, and to see my research come into
action. at's what I did for 30 years," he said. "I did it with
a lot of passion."
Next on the list was "becoming a Reader, which was a
mark of distinction, the rst Reader in Engineering, becoming
a Professor of Engineering, those are accomplishments
I value. I think when you come into the University as an
academic that is what really you should aspire to -- to be a
professor, to be the best in the profession."
But there is always the administrative side, he said. "I
always had a foot in administration, simply because I wanted
to give service to my Faculty, Campus and University and
also to contribute on State Boards, etc. I hope that when
others look back at my accomplishments they will see that
in every sphere where I served as an administrator, I le
some distinctive mark."
He said that the Mechanical Engineering programmes
were internationally accredited under his watch by the
IMechE (UK) for the very rst time and that he and a couple
of others pioneered the BSc programme in Agricultural
Engineering at UWI when he returned from Guelph. He
talks too about how many graduate students/engineers he
trained. "My graduates have given me immense pleasure,"
he said proudly.
It was about
BY VANEISA BAKSH
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