Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 6th 2017 Contents 10 UWI TODAY – SUNDAY 6 AUGUST, 2017
Pat Ganase is a writer and editor with experience in newspapers, publishing and corporate social responsibility.
Professor Rhoda Reddock demits the post of Deputy
Principal of The UWI St. Augustine Campus in July 2017,
after nine years. When she retires in 2018, she will have
concluded 33 years – a lifetime – teaching, researching
and supervising at the university that she considers home.
This period has seen her honing and flexing her vision
of an ethical and exemplary Caribbean community.
Professor Reddock has so shaped the social and intellectual
environment for students at St. Augustine that even if
each takes one idea back to their professional or home
communities the changes could be profound.
For Reddock, the challenge has always been how to
affect the quality of life of the individual at the personal
level, while working at the macro level. But it is a challenge
that her curious human nature has eminently qualified
her to accomplish. From her first attempt as a high school
student to enter the Port of Spain prison, to her studies of
institutional life in Jamaica, and eventual qualification at the
Institute of Social Studies at the Hague, and the doctorate
in applied sociology at the University of Amsterdam; to the
return to the UWI as a research fellow at the Institute of
Social and Economic Research (ISER); the establishment of
the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS);
to her spearheading the Division of Student Services and
Development (DSSD), Reddock’s trajectory has been
straight to the heart of individual empowerment to awaken
the potential to lead.
By the time the average student reaches the UWI, (s)
he has already spent more than 12 years in classrooms.
The university student is now focused on refining a craft,
or acquiring requisite knowledge to earn a living. Their
graduation recognizes their having achieved a level of
proficiency in their fields.
Reddock insists that the privilege to acquire degrees
confers the responsibility to become leaders in their social
and professional communities. Reddock’s mission has
been to ensure they graduate as worthwhile human beings,
capable citizens to leaven the still emerging Caribbean
Professor Reddock shares her
thoughts on UWI’s special role
BY PAT GANASE
She holds dear the tenet of “a distinctive UWI graduate
for the 21st Century – one who has a regional frame
for reference and exemplifies the following attributes: a
critical and creative thinker; a problem solver; an effective
communicator; knowledgeable and informed; competent;
a leader; a team player; skilled and information literate;
socially and culturally responsive; ethical; innovative and
entrepreneurial; and a lifelong, self-motivated learner.”
Love for lifelong learning and leadership is not always
acquired in the classroom. Reddock recognises that living
and studying environments are also arenas for learning.
With this in mind, she has piloted infrastructure at The UWI
to engender integrity; intellectual freedom; excellence; social
and civic responsibility; diversity and equity. In establishing
the DSSD, she has worked to effect a social ethos that
supports student ambitions while shaping principles and
values to prepare worthy citizens.
This major initiative during her tenure as Deputy
Principal (2008-2017), seeks to improve all aspects of
student life, from living quarters to advisory and mentorship
programmes; to the acquisition of meaningful skills through
volunteerism, community engagement, civic activities and
practical courses like defensive driving. It has also led to the
development of a scholarship of Student Services.
As Deputy Principal, she also had a responsibility
for academic quality, and chaired the Academic Quality
Assurance Committee (AQAC). This Committee adjudicated
quality in academic programmes, and established the
Mathematics Committee after realising that a significant
reason for failure in courses was qualitative or mathematics
related. A Mathematics Help Desk was set up in the Faculty
of Science and Technology; and the School of Education was
prompted to work with national and regional stakeholders
in the improvement of mathematics education.
She is particularly proud of “the work that The UWI
has done in the area of Gender Studies where the IGDS is
now ... a global centre of excellence and has maintained
its commitment to scholarship as well as to social change
and social justice.”
The University recently approved a Gender Policy
which she expects to be rolled out to the benefit of all. “I
see this UWI Gender Policy as an example of leadership to
the rest of the region.”
Like teacher-philosophers through time, she continually
ponders, Who am I? What am I here for? A practical thinker,
Reddock also asks: How can I make it better? She wishes that
students would not only find academic keys to successful
careers. She hopes that they also require a social conscience
and humanity to be worthy citizens in the creation of caring
and just communities.
As a graduate and research institution, there remains
an area of limitation at The UWI. She points out that
philosophy underpins all academic disciplines, from the arts
to the sciences. It engages the most fundamental questions:
What is being? What is knowledge? What is truth? What
is a meaningful and worthwhile life? At most institutions
of higher learning around the world, courses in critical
thinking are the responsibility of philosophy departments.
She believes it should be a priority of all systems of
education, and should be much more widely taught in the
humanities, the social sciences as well as in the natural and
Reddock is the first to recognise that her years at The
UWI have expanded her own philosophy and personal
“In my opinion the UWI’s greatest contribution to
Caribbean society is our graduates. We should be measured
(not by numbers) by the quality of our graduates, both in
relation to competence and knowledge; in their service
to community and society; and their commitment to the
Caribbean region. Through leadership through research,
activism, teaching, and publications, this institution should
provide the information and analysis that raise critical
questions and generate informed debate to guide policy
in all areas.”
To be sure, Reddock will continue to be an engaged
scholar and collaborate with like-minded leaders and to
speak out on the issues.
SUNDAY 6 AUGUST, 2017 – UWI TODAY 7
Speaking on innovation, Jeff Bezos, the multi-billionaire
founder of Amazon who is closing in on the heels of Bill
Gates for the title of richest person on the planet, said: “One
of the ways to get yourself out of a tight box is to invent
your way out.”
With its weakening energy sector, Trinidad and Tobago
is in a tight box. With a 14% reduction in funding, UWI St.
Augustine is in a tight box as well. But, as Bezos says, the
Campus has its inventors. And they have been busy.
“There are products here that will shock the world,” says
Nizamudeen Mohammed, a technician with the Department
of Chemistry, as he leads me into an office. The space is
tiny but it’s not the space that matters. On display is a suite
of coatings – indoor and exterior paints, red oxide primer,
marine coating, 4-in-1 coating and plastic cement – many
of them made from a combination of local asphalt and other
additives. All of them made by a Chemistry Department
team. Most importantly, many of these products will be
available to the public as UWI St. Augustine launches a start-
up company for asphalt coatings, a first for the Campus.
The asphalt-based products, as well as other innovations
coming out of the Department, were displayed at the
Innovation Conference held in late June at UWI’s Teaching
and Learning Centre. In his address at the Conference,
Campus Principal Professor Brian Copeland said he had
mandated St. Augustine to launch its first spin-off company
This is massive for several reasons. Firstly the products
themselves, representative of homegrown innovation that
use local raw materials and were specifically designed
to resist conditions like heat and moisture, are entering
a market which is dominated by foreign products. The
research team says the asphalt coatings are not only more
effective they are also much less expensive.
“The Caribbean climate is hot. We live and work in
coastal areas. We have flooding,” says Mr. Mohammed.
“These products were developed and tested to withstand
the heat, the salt-water, the rust. And we can bring them to
market at a much lower cost.”
If the asphalt coatings are so effective in the extreme
conditions of the Caribbean, then they will be even more
effective in temperate climates, says the research team. This
means there is potential for export business. In fact, Mr.
Mohammed says there has already been several expressions
of interest from regional and international parties.
The start-up is also extremely significant because it
represents an evolution in UWI’s role. At the Innovation
Conference, Professor Copeland said UWI is “actively
expanding the current ‘education-for-jobs’ paradigm to
one that nurtures creativity and innovation.” The asphalt
coating start-up is essentially a blueprint for how it can be
done – from research and development to manufacturing
and bringing products to market, what Professor Copeland
has described as the innovation pipeline.
Innovation remains a much-desired but elusive goal for
Trinidad and Tobago. Currently the Government is working
on a draft national innovation policy. Principal Copeland
has made innovation a major priority for the Campus and
is actively promoting a cohesive innovation strategy that
includes input from government, the private sector and the
The asphalt coating start-up also represents a very
effective use of the funding provided to the University.
“People need to see the result of investing in UWI and
in our research,” says Dr. Simone Walcott, Chief Technician
in the Chemistry Department and a member of the research
Nizam Mohammed (right) of the Chemistry Department at The UWI St. Augustine showed off some of the lubricants (velocity joint grease)
developed by staff to (from left) Campus Principal Professor Brian Copeland, Ronald Hinds, CEO of Teleios, (Professor John Agard is partially
hidden), Dr Simone Walcott, Beverly Khan, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning, Mr. Robinson Constantine (who applied
the coating to the solvent bunker) and Dr. Terrence Farrell.
Among the coating products on display at the Innovation
Conference were a primer, marine coatings and plastic
cement, some asphalt-based and all with short drying times,
and lower costs than comparable items.
At the heart of the team are Dr. Lebert Grierson (Head
of the Chemistry Department) and Mr. Mohammed,
who have been working on coatings, lubricants and other
formulations for more than a decade.
“I looked at poor people who can’t afford to buy a
galvanize sheet for their roof or a can of paint at Christmas
time,” says Mohammed. “How do we use what we have in
the country to create affordable solutions for them that will
last? It was a challenge and I thrive on challenge.”
He recounted how he and Dr. Grierson would go to
residents of La Brea (the location of the Pitch Lake) and
buy waste deposits of asphalt to conduct their experiments.
Eventually, despite their extremely limited resources
and several other difficulties they developed a range of
formulations combining asphalt with other ingredients.
Several of their products have been tested and certified
by the Shriram Institute for Industrial Research in India.
This also includes two greases – a velocity joint grease and
a heavy red grease. Mohammed says there are many more
products in the works, some already completed and only
“We have a great team of researchers and we can make
a whole field of products,” he says.
At the time of this writing the Department is awaiting
additional funding for further research and expansion
of the chemistry lab to better handle a larger scale of
manufacturing. Despite the difficulties they have faced
in developing these products, the team is optimistic for
the future of the work, particularly under the leadership
of Professor Copeland and the new innovation paradigm.
“All we need is 10% of the Trinidad and Tobago market
and 10% of the Caribbean market and we can have an
extremely profitable business,” says Mr. Mohammed. “In
the entire Caribbean there is no manufacturing of these
kinds of products. The market is there. We can make an
impact and we can help to put UWI in the driving seat for
innovation in the region.”
A Fresh Coat of Asphalt
Campus to create first start-up company
using research-based natural products
BY JOEL HENRY
Joel Henry is an editor and writer.
“These products were
developed and tested to
withstand the heat, the
salt-water, the rust. And we
can bring them to market at
a much lower cost.”
Links Archive August 5th 2017 August 7th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page