Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Archie McDonald turning UWI into a business

Published:Saturday | June 18, 2016 | 6:01 AM
Professor Archibald McDonald, pro-vice-chancellor and principal of the UWI, Mona.

Deanall

Barnes

dbarnes75@yahoo.com

The recent announcement by the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, that it has or will divorce the NWC is clearly a step in the right direction. The principal, Professor Archibald McDonald, and his team ought to be lauded because finally the university is being run like a business.

For too long the esteemed institution, which has produced great Caribbean leaders and Nobel Prize winners, has relied on Caribbean governments to keep it afloat. Note, the suggestion is not for Caribbean governments to cease financing UWI; on the contrary, CARICOM countries must aid in the process of the commercialisation of UWI.

In addition to the water project, it was reported that the UWI will be expanding and refurbishing the iconic Mona Visitors' Lodge to a three- or four-star hotel. This is quite refreshing and should bode well for the UWI's coffers. Undoubtedly, the UWI is a big consumer of electricity, and as such, the news of construction of a cogeneration plant in the not-too-distant future is pleasing to the ear.

A few years ago, former state minister and government senator Dr Ronald Robinson, in a conversation, expressed the view that Professor McDonald was quite businesslike and that the goodly doctor would surgically transform the UWI. The early indications are quite positive. It seems the surgery has been successful thus far.

Almost a decade and half ago, a group of student leaders at the UWI, Mona, including, but not limited to, Basil Waite, Emily Crooks, Burchell Gibson, Lisa Hanna, Dr Dwayne Vernon, Dr Mathew Harvey, Kern Spencer and I were adamant and perhaps, at times, vociferous in our attempts to explain that raising school fees was not the solution to the economic woes of the university.

Several methods of coercion, some which cannot be mentioned, were utilised to persuade the then administration that the UWI operate like a business. Needless to say, we failed miserably. Some cosmetic actions were taken, but had very minimal impact.

Fast-forward to now, the university finally has accepted that its long-term sustenance will be principally determined by revenue-generation efforts. Well done, Professor McDonald and your team.