Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Order of Jamaica Awardee, Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie Tells Female Academics at UWI to Step Up to The Plate

Published:Tuesday | October 20, 2015 | 10:00 AM
Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie receives instrument of appointment to the Order of Jamaica by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, for contribution to academia.

As it is with her tenure as the only female principal at the University of the West Indies, (UWI) Mona campus, so it was with her presence at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony at Kings's House.

Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie is the only woman to have served as principal of the UWI Mona campus and yesterday, National Heroes Day, she was the only woman among the eight individuals who were appointed as members of the Order of Jamaica.

In an interview with The Gleaner Leo-Rhynie said she was honoured to be receiving the award.

"When you are working, you don't really work for a reward, but when it is given, it is greatly appreciated and of course, you feel a sense of satisfaction and certainly honour to be so recognised," she said.

Professor Leo-Rhynie is recognised as the first female to become both deputy principal (1996-2002) and principal (2006-2007) of the University of the West Indies. In 2002, Professor Leo-Rhynie became pro-vice chancellor and chair of the Board of Undergraduate Studies. She was named professor emerita by the University of the West Indies following her retirement in 2007.

Leadership roles

Now as she watches the growth of the Mona campus from the periphery, the distinguished academic wants to see more women in leadership roles on the Mona campus.

According to Leo-Rhynie, "I would love to see more women in leadership roles ... on the Mona campus. Apart from the female registrar, we really do not have any deans or pro-vice chancellors who are female, so in a sense, I am hoping that the younger women will step up to the plate and distinguish themselves academically so that they can take their place in administration and management of the university."

Leo-Rhynie believes that more female leaders are needed on the Mona campus so that they can serve as a source of inspiration for the majority female student population. She, however, made it clear that women should earn their place in the top ranks of the university.

"I think that women have to earn their space and I think that our women by and large are working, many of them are working to earn that space. I just think that the pace is not as fast as it could be and we have to remember too, that women have to balance, to a large extent still, home and family with work," she said.

In recounting her tenure as principal of the Mona campus, Leo-Rhynie told The Gleaner that her proudest achievement was establishing a set of qualities which typify a distinguished UWI graduate.

- AndrÈ Poyser