Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Excelsior honours past principals

Published:Tuesday | October 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Ambassador Burchell Whiteman unveils the bust of Thomas E. Dwyer, founding principal of Excelsior Community College, during a recent function at the Mountain View, St Andrew, campus to honour three past principals. Photo by Paul Williams

Paul Williams, Gleaner Writer

In 1974, Thomas Edward Dwyer founded Excelsior Community College (ECC) as the first such tertiary institution in Jamaica.

He was to be its founding principal until his retirement in 2000, when he was succeeded by Dr Dahlia Repole.

After 11 years of leading the transformation of the college, Dr Repole retired in 2011. Dr Nadine Scott took over the mantle of leadership that same year, but her tenure was cut short earlier this year when she succumbed to cancer. Her death meant the first three principals of ECC had made the transition, Dwyer in 2003, and Dr Repole last year.

It has now been 40 years since ECC first opened its doors to the public, and one way the institution chose to mark its anniversary was to officially recognise the achievements of Dwyer, Repole and Scott.

Earlier this month, they were honoured during a ceremony held at the Mountain View campus, for their contribution to education in general and the development of ECC in particular.

Pioneer Powell

In alluding to Dwyer's founding of the institution, guest speaker, Ambassador Burchell Whiteman, former minister of education, said: "Being the pioneer institution, being the pioneer founding principal, being the path-breaker, innovator, was undoubtedly consistent with the tradition and legacy of the founder of EXED, the Honourable A. Wesley Powell."

In commenting on the occasion itself, Whiteman told the gathering that "it is indeed fitting that as we celebrate 40 years in the life and growth of this remarkable and highly successful tertiary institution, we should identify and honour those who conceived of, led, directed and, most importantly, inspired its continuing development".

Following Whiteman's presentation, tributes were read for the honourees. In the citation to Thomas E. Dwyer, Dr Sarah Malcolm, vice-principal for academic affairs, said: "If all the world's a stage, then Thomas Edward Dwyer (TED) was one of its finest actors ... . He was, among other things, a consummate educator, actor and writer, social commentator, and philanthropist, who has left indelible marks on the Jamaican educational, media and theatrical landscapes."

Senior lecturer Linval Scott, in his tribute to Dr Nadine Scott, said: "In addition to her dedication to the field of education, Dr Scott is remembered for a disposition that was personable, warm and endearing. She was the voice of the voiceless and a person who loved the arts and things of beauty. The Excelsior community was blessed to have known Dr Nadine Scott, advocate, mentor, inspirational leader, quintessential educator."

Repole tribute

Repole's tribute was read by Michael Reckord, lecturer, who opened by saying: "Excelsior Community College is the trailblazer on the community college landscape. Thomas Edward Dwyer was the man who started and nurtured it, but Dr Dahlia Winsome Repole was the woman who took it to another level, to satisfy the educational and training needs of 21st-century students ... ."

The gathering was also addressed by Philmore McCarthy, acting principal; Dr Donna Powell Wilson, executive director of the Community Council of Jamaica; Marlon Creary, president of ECC's alumni; Dr Franklin Johnston, senior adviser to the minister of education; and The Reverend Everald Galbraith, president of the Jamaica District of the Methodist Church. Dave Campbell, nephew of Dwyer, gave the family members' response.

The highlights of the evening were the unveiling of framed photographs of Repole and Scott, and a bust of Dwyer, sculpted by Pamrie Hall Dwyer.