Prime Minister Andrew Holness is accompanied by his wife Juliet on a tour of the dental lab at The UWI’s Faculty of Medical Sciences’ Teaching and Research Complex. Mrs Holness is also member of parliament for East Rural St Andrew. Photos by Shorná Thompson

UWI honours PM Holness

WHEN PRIME Minister Andrew Holness came home to The UWI, Mona Campus on May 3, he ‘hung out’ at Chancellor hall, engaged students on a range of national issues, and received updates on the latest developments in marijuana research, sports medicine and dentistry, among other things.

Earlier, he was inducted into The UWI, Mona Park in honour of UWI graduates who are or have been Heads of Government, becoming the 18th prime minister to make The UWI “honour roll”.
Holness, who is Jamaica’s youngest prime minister, joins 22 other graduates of The UWI who have been installed as Heads of Government.

He told the audience of mainly politicians, diplomats, academia, friends and well-wishers that he felt “very humbled” by the gesture, and thanked The UWI for adding his name to the monument.

In a wide-ranging speech, the prime minister underscored the importance of economic growth and job creation. He said The UWI had a critical role to play in helping to grow the Jamaican economy. “You are the builders of the social, human capital that is necessary to drive economic growth,” he remarked.

He also commended The UWI, Mona for the physical transformation of the campus. “The leadership of the university has made significant investment in improving the infrastructure and we are very proud of it.”

The prime minister went on to call for a public debate to find a new model to finance tertiary education, with a view to expanding access.

He also underscored the need for Jamaica’s transformation from a violent society, and the adaptation of a culture of social responsibility, noting that these were priorities on the government’s social transformation agenda which have already been set in train.
Meanwhile, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, The UWI, Mona Professor Archibald McDonald lauded the prime minister for continuing “to fight for the right of all to enjoy the many benefits and opportunities provided by a sound education”.

He said the prime minister had distinguished himself as a leader who recognises the transformative effect of a solid education, and the opportunity it provides society for enhancing its growth potential and its sustainability within the global marketplace.

“This is indeed a wonderful occasion for all of us to celebrate and recognise the outstanding achievements of one of The UWI, Mona’s most distinguished graduates,” he told the audience. “This is an occasion that, as principal, I hope will inspire our many current students to strive for excellence as it formally confirms to them that hard work, perseverance and the belief in one’s own ability will take one along the path of greatness,” the principal added.
Campus Registrar Dr Camille Bell- Hutchinson, who also addressed the gathering, said the existence of the park symbolises The UWI’s commitment and focus in preparing the distinctive UWI graduate.

“It provides powerful evidence of The UWI’s ability to produce leaders to serve at the highest levels of government,” she said. “It also testifies to the enduring ability of The University of the West Indies to remain relevant, viable and responsive to the needs of the people of the region by its production of so many prominent graduates contributing in a meaningful way to national and regional development,” she added.

For his part, UWI Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles told the prime minister that The UWI was committed to the objectives of the growth paradigm. In this regard, the vice-chancellor announced that The University was preparing a full proposal to present to Michael Lee-Chin, the country’s growth czar. This proposal “sets out the way in which we can imagine this entire zone – UWI, UTech, Hope Pastures, Liguanea, and New Kingston – as an innovation and education park that could be a centre for growth and development in Jamaica,” he explained.