Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2017 Contents SUNDAY 11 JUNE, 2017 – UWI TODAY 7
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WERE
YOUR MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS?
I have made some adjustments at the
management level. For example, I cleared
the Office of the Campus Principal of all
units that I considered to be of a purely
operational nature so that it could focus
on more strategic matters. Significantly,
the Division of Facilities Management was
returned to the Registrar’s Office and its
activities in managing campus projects
were transferred to the Campus Projects
At the campus level, I have restructured
campus management in an attempt
to make it more responsive and action
oriented. Significantly, there is a Campus
Executive Management Team (CEMT)
that comprises myself, the Bursar [Andrea
Taylor-Hanna], the Registrar [Richard
Saunders], the Deputy Principal [Prof
Rhoda Reddock] and the Librarian [Frank
Soodeen]. We meet every two weeks to
look at core, supportive elements. Senior
Management meets twice per semester;
this includes Deans and Directors who
manage the various operational units.
Finally, there is a management team
that includes all the above and other
management staff and administrative
officers. We are still fine-tuning this system.
What I can say is that judging from the
CEMT activities to date, there is an awful
amount of work ahead of us.
I think that I have been successful in
motivating a new vision for the Campus,
one that incorporates an implicit mandate
to do all that we can to support the
development and growth of the nation,
the Caribbean and the University. It
is supported by two key initiatives: a
completely re-engineered and revitalised
educational component, as well as a new
thrust into the domain of innovation-
led, export-oriented entrepreneurship.
This vision is now embedded in the UWI
Strategic Plan for the period 2017-2022.
I think the greatest achievement so far
has been the galvanizing of the Office of
Research, Development and Knowledge
Transfer to take the lead in building the
campus systems required to effectively
support that innovation-led, export-
oriented entrepreneurship. At the same
time, it will seek to facilitate innovation on
the social and ecological fronts. Its progress
has been in no small way the result of the
stellar efforts of its new director, Professor
John Agard. I place great store on this
activity because it represents a significant
departure from what the University has
traditionally been doing: teaching, research
YOU HAVE SPOKEN CONSISTENTLY ABOUT
THE NEED FOR THE UNIVERSITY TO
RECONFIGURE ITS WAY OF DOING THINGS:
TO THINK MORE ENTREPRENEURIALLY, TO
BE MORE FOCUSED ON TRANSFORMING
RESEARCH INTO COMMERCIALLY VIABLE
VENTURES. THIS REQUIRES MORE THAN
SYSTEMIC CHANGES, IT WILL DEMAND
A CULTURAL SHIFT THAT, GIVEN HUMAN
NATURE, WILL DOUBTLESS MEET
RESISTANCE. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON
HOW YOU PLAN TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?
My 20 years or so of singing the song of
innovation-led entrepreneurship has made me
painfully aware of the depth of the challenge
of creating the new university culture.
Historically, the most effective strategies for
culture change require a significant change
in the people who are solidly embedded in
the old culture or a motivating force that is
too strong to be ignored. I had hopes for the
country when the new university, UTT, was
formed, as innovation and entrepreneurship
was identified as part of its mandate; however,
I do not think that this has yet been achieved.
That being said, my strategy for the UWI has
1. Work really hard for an early win. It is for
this reason that I have set a mandate for
St. Augustine to launch its first spin-off
company by August 2017.
2. Establish an innovation-to-
entrepreneurship ecosystem that will
provide all the support required to move
an idea into impactful reality – commercial
in the first instance. That ecosystem will
include legal, financial and business
development support, all in collaboration
with the private and public sectors.
3. Work with staff who are willing, but target
students primarily, to identify potentially
innovative opportunities among the vast
array of projects at St. Augustine.
The long-term, very conservative target is for
UWI to spin-off one new company every two
years. The recession is a great motivator in
moving these plans along.
THERE HAS BEEN SPECULATION THAT
THE APPOINTMENT OF A CHANCELLOR
WHO COMES FROM A COMMERCIAL
BACKGROUND IS PART OF A UNIVERSITY
STRATEGY TO SIGNAL A DIFFERENCE
IN THE WAY IT DOES BUSINESS. HOW
RELEVANT IS THAT ELEMENT TO THE
SELECTION OF MR. ROBERT BERMUDEZ?
I think that his appointment is truly strategic;
if only because it signals the urgency of the
very same culture change you asked about.
Many are of the view that a Chancellor should
be an academic. However, the Chancellor’s
responsibility is primarily ceremonial although
he/she has responsibility in the governance
framework as Chairman of Council, the highest
decision-making body at The UWI. Most of
all, the Chancellor is expected to be a strong
advocate for the University.
Our first Chancellor, Princess Alice, was not an
academic. The last Chancellor at the University
of Huddersfield in the UK was renowned actor
Sir Patrick Stewart, best known for his role
as Captain Jean Luc Piccard on the Star Trek
Enterprise TV series.
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR VISION FOR
THE ST. AUGUSTINE CAMPUS AND THE
UNIVERSITY GENERALLY FOR THE NEXT
Along the lines of what was mentioned earlier,
The UWI will be a University that would have
reinvented itself so as to optimally align its
teaching and research mandate to societal
needs, even as it makes its contribution to the
creation of a stronger culture of innovation.
The latter will be characterized by a steady
stream of new innovation-led, export-
oriented enterprises to buoy our sagging
economies and by University-resourced social
interventions towards a vastly improved
society. This University will also be one that
continues to lead in identifying and addressing
ecological challenges of the Caribbean.
WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT – INTERNAL AND
EXTERNAL – DO YOU SEE AS NECESSARY
TO ENABLE YOUR VISION, AND HOW DO
YOU PROPOSE TO GET IT?
It always boils down to a workable strategy
that is well-resourced with human and
FINALLY, ONE YEAR IN, WHAT DO
YOU THINK HAS DEFINED YOUR
People-empowerment and the consequent
reliance on the collective to aid in situation
assessment and in decision-making.
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