Sadieki Pitter, Gleaner Writer
New medical building among new developments to open within a year
If in recent times you have been to the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, you would have seen some new buildings under construction.
New infrastructure development has been undertaken, such as the regional headquarters, across from the campus' main gate; graduate housing; and other upgrading projects. The most significant new structure is the Basic Medical Sciences Complex. Devon Smith, manager of the Campus Projects Office, told The Gleaner it would be open for the new academic year.
"ZDA Construction Limited was the main contractor of this project, along with a host of other local subcontractors," Smith said. "The building will be opened for the new academic year 2012-2013 and it will take 24 months."
He revealed that the building would be used for the medical programme, dentistry, forensic sciences, biochemistry, physiotherapy and anatomy, and pharmacology.
PART OF TRANSFORMATION
Asked whether the new addition will lead to more jobs, Smith told The Gleaner, "It is not a matter of new jobs that will be created. The thrust by the Mona campus is to have a facility that is in keeping with the transformation of the campus, and part of that transformation is the increasing student enrolment."
He said the new facility is not there to provide jobs, but no doubt, some additional staff will be hired. He said the main focus is having a facility that is in keeping with international standards and the necessary requirements of a basic medical science programme.
Smith was unable to disclose the overall cost of the construction, but he revealed that additional developments will be taking place, including graduate housing and improvements on the undergraduate hall sites. These other facilities are expected to be opened during the upcoming academic year.
With all the new buildings and improvements, one of the biggest issues, noise, led to the question of its effect on classes.
"During the construction, we have very stringent policy concerning noise for both students and the surrounding areas," Smith said. "These include varying the work hours, using specialised tools and equipment pneumatic in design."
Added Smith: "Regarding use of the roadway, much of our development is in an urban setting and the same codes will apply to them. It is not that we are putting up facilities without taking those things into consideration."
The UWI is the Caribbean's premier institution for tertiary-level education. Founded in 1948 as an external college of the University of London, it was located at Mona, St Andrew. In 1950, Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, became the first chancellor of the University College of the West Indies, as it was called during that time. It gained full university status in 1962, the same year Jamaica got its Independence.
Other UWI campuses across the Caribbean are located at St Augustine in Trinidad, established in 1961, and Cave Hill in Barbados, established in 1963. Professor Gordon Shirley has been principal of the UWI, Mona, since August 1, 2007.