...Surprised by announcement
Following is the text of a statement issued by The UWI last night from its regional headquarters in Jamaica:
“The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has noted with surprise the announcement made by Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Education, Mr Anthony Garcia, at a post-Cabinet media briefing earlier today, on the subject of the appointment of a new UWI chancellor.
“The university administration wishes to take this opportunity to indicate that chancellors are appointed in accordance with the University's Statute 4, which clearly states, ‘The chancellor shall be appointed by the University Council'.
“The University confirms that over the past few months, it has been working through a specially appointed search committee to identify an appropriate successor to Sir George Alleyne, who is carded to demit office in the latter half of 2017.
“The matter of the appointment of the university's new chancellor is an item on the agenda for the upcoming Annual Business Meeting of University Council, set to take place on April 27, 2017, in Barbados. It is at this meeting that a final decision will be made on the new UWI chancellor.
Trinidad and Tobago businessman Robert Bermudez has been selected as the next chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), in a paradigm shift to enable the university to generate its own funds and become less dependent on State financing.
Bermudez is the second Trinidadian to hold this post, the first being former prime minister Dr Eric Williams.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia made the announcement yesterday at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's.
Bermudez' official appointment will take place on April 27. The current chancellor, Sir George Allen, will demit office on July 31, 2017.
Speaking at the news conference, Garcia said Bermudez was the best candidate from a search conducted by a committee established by the university council.
The people short-listed by the search committee were presented to an intersessional Caricom meeting on February 16 and Caricom accepted the recommendation of Bermudez.
Garcia said the search committee took Bermudez's wealth of business experience into consideration.
“It was felt that The University of the West Indies should depend a little less on the coffers of the respective governments and they should try as fast as possible to generate their own funds,” he said.
Bermudez, he said, was unanimously recommended and his appointment represents a “paradigm shift” in the selection of chancellors. Garcia said over the years, contributing governments have been bur- dened in having to support The UWI.
He disclosed when he attends meetings, he notes the T&T Government expends in excess of $610 million to support The UWI.
The shift, he said, is now in the area of self-sufficiency.
He said this does not mean governments will cease contributing, but there is need for this shift where The UWI can generate its own funds.
He said it was felt the new chancellor should be someone with business experience.
The minister detailed the business background of Bermudez, which includes:
• chairman of the Bermudez Group Ltd
• chairman of Kiss Baking Company Ltd
• chairman of Jamaica Business Company Ltd
• chairman of Massy Holdings Ltd.
“With that experience, he will be able to move the university forward so that much-needed funds for its expansion will be realised,” he said.
Bermudez, he said, has been pivotal in working with students and has “intimate knowledge” of the university and how it operates.
He said Bermudez explained his vision for The UWI to the satisfaction of the search committee.
Garcia said the formal report of the search committee will be submitted to the meeting of the business session of the council of The UWI at its meeting in Barbados on April 27.
The Express attempted to contact Bermudez for comment yesterday but he was unreachable.