The University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has announced that after two years of dialogue with the Florida, United States-based University of Miami (UM), the two institutions have finalised a partnership for mutual strategic purposes.
On October 22, Sir Hilary and UM President Julio Frenk signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), at the UWI Regional Headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, which outlined collaboration between the two universities in areas including: public health, the threat of global warming, access to global technology, poverty reduction, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
According to Ambassador Gillian Bristol, director of The UWI’s LAtin American-Caribbean Centre, who chaired the bilateral meeting, “With the signing of the MOU between The University of the West Indies and the University of Miami, we can move forward on initiatives, some of which have already begun, and projects which will be impactful in changing the life of the region.”
The bilateral meeting was the occasion for discussions on a strategy for sustainable inter-institutional partnership between the universities. The univerisities’ medical faculties also gave an update on collaborative projects which have already begun, including drug abuse research, sport and community health.
“Caribbean people are very serious about sustainable development — there is a demand, a thirst for it — so everything we do must be relevant, impactful and sustaining of our developmental energies,” Sir Hilary said.
He added: “The UWI is [therefore] pursuing models that bring value to the countries of the region, recognising how we can advance mutual interest in a region that has long been the victim of extractive models.”
As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
“The UWI is [therefore] pursuing models that bring value to the countries of the region…”— Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice chancellor, The Unversity of the West Indies
These include the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology; and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
Despite being separated geographically by water, The UWI and UM, Sir Hilary explained, have a “long relationship of international cooperation.
“This MOU will take what is already a fruitful relationship to another level, addressing critical issues relevant to both communities,” he emphasised.
While noting that UM was founded with the ideal of being a Pan-American university, Dr Frenk pointed out that it is the responsibility of universities to improve the condition of people around the world .
“Now it is being transformed into a hemispheric university, and it is vital that we establish the kinds of collaborations this MOU represents,” he continued.