Sun | Jan 21, 2018

T&T education ministry defends announcement about UWI Chancellor

Published:Sunday | April 23, 2017 | 11:13 AM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – The Ministry of Education has sought to defend its decision to announce that local businessman Robert Bermudez has been selected as the next Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), although final approval has not been given for his appointment.

In a release following last week’s announcement by Education Minister Anthony Garcia, the UWI expressed “surprise” at the statement, adding that Chancellors are appointed in accordance with the University’s Statute 4 which states, “The Chancellor shall be appointed by the University Council.”

The UWI said final approval must be given during the upcoming Annual Business Meeting of the University Council to be held on Thursday in Barbados.

However, in a statement on Friday, the education ministry said Cabinet instructed Garcia “to inform the population that the search for The UWI Chancellor was completed and that Robert Bermudez would be the next Chancellor”.

The ministry said the statement was to “clear the air” and explain the process used to select the next chancellor.

It said the University Council established a Search Committee on September 7 last year to begin the process to appoint a new chancellor to replace Sir George Alleyne, who will vacate office on July 31.

It said the committee was chaired by Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles and included representatives of the governments of several Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago.

“The committee was of the view that there needed to be a paradigm shift away from a chancellor whose background was strictly in academics. It was felt that since the Caribbean economies are on the decline, the university needed a chancellor who in addition to academia also possesses business acumen.

“Following this procedure, the Chairman reported to the Committee at its meeting on April 7, 2017 that all Heads of Governments were in agreement with the recommendation to select the nominee of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Robert Bermudez to be the next Chancellor of The University of the West Indies,” the release stated.

It said on April 20, Garcia reported to Cabinet that at the 28th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Governments of  the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held in Guyana the prime ministers had all agreed with the decision of the Search Committee that Bermudez be the next chancellor of the university.

“He also said during the meeting of the Business Session of Council of The UWI that the report will be submitted for approval on April 27, 2017.”

Bermudez is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bermudez Group of Companies and has led the growth of the Bermudez Group from a local, family-owned business, to a regional business throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

He has enjoyed a distinguished career in business and is associated with several other corporate bodies in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.

He is also a non-executive director of the Massy Group.

He was elected to the Board of Neal & Massy Holdings Limited, now Massy Holdings Ltd., in 1997 and has served on the Company’s Audit and Governance and Compensation Committees.