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CMU strips wall of fame after parents express concern

Published:Monday | August 5, 2019 | 12:00 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
The CMU removed the 16 tiles in honour of persons who helped to make the FACT Centre a reality in 2018. The move came after The Gleaner published a story highlighting concerns by parents about the presence of the names of two booted Cabinet ministers among the honourees.
The CMU FACT Centre wall of fame before the tiles were removed.

The Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) has moved swiftly to address concerns raised by parents about the names of two booted Cabinet ministers among persons on a wall of fame at the Palisadoes Park-based institution in Kingston.

The concerns were highlighted in a Gleaner story last Friday in which a parent of a prospective student expressed shock at seeing former Cabinet ministers Dr Andrew Wheatley and Ruel Reid among honourees on the wall during a recent tour of the institution.

Wheatley, the former energy minister, was forced to quit the Cabinet last July after agencies under the ministry he led were swamped with allegations of corruption, nepotism, financial impropriety, and questionable human relations practices. Reid, the discarded education minister now under criminal investigation, made his exit in March amid corruption allegations dogging agencies under his ministry, including the CMU.

“That was the last thing I expected to see,” the parent told The Gleaner last week. “In light of all the developments, what is the rationale for these people to be listed on a wall of fame? ... Are we saying to the children that they should aspire to walk in the footsteps of these people?”

The parent, whose child will begin studies at the CMU in a few weeks, said she and others who were taken aback by the discovery would be pressing the institution’s management to have the names removed.

However, hours after the story was published, the CMU’s university council ordered that the 16 tiles on the wall of fame be dismounted “until further notice”, a CMU release said yesterday.

According to CMU, the directive was communicated to the university administration in a letter on Friday and executed that afternoon.

The wall of fame in question is mounted on the newly constructed PetroCaribe Building of the Festo Authorised and Certified Training (FACT) Centre for Mechatronics and Automation. Opened last September, the state-of-the-art facility, which aims to deliver international certification in industrial automation and mechatronics, is the result of a partnership between the CMU and globally renowned German training institute Festo Didactic.

The centre has the capacity to train and certify more than 4,000 students annually.

The PetroCaribe Development Fund provided $402 million of the more than $750 million spent on the facility.

In May, the CMU removed Wheatley’s name from a centre named in his honour at its main campus following public backlash as details surfaced about alleged impropriety at a number of agencies under the ministry, including NESoL, Petrojam, and the Universal Service Fund.


The FACT Centre inductees:

– Andrew Holness, prime minister

– Dean-Roy Bernard, then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education

– Bishop Dr Wellesley Blair, former chairman of the Universal Service Fund

– Suzette Buchanan, former CEO of the Universal Service Fund

– Shakierah Cowan, client relations manager at the PetroCaribe Development Fund

– Hugh Cross, former CEO of the Universal Service Fund

– Omar Davies, former transport minister

– Dr Alwin Hales, permanent secretary in Ministry of Transport and Mining

– Mike Henry, former transport minister

– Robert Lawrence, former chairman of the Universal Service Fund

– Dr Wesley Hughes, CEO, PetroCaribe Development Fund

– Dr Grace McLean, chief education officer in the Ministry of Education (now acting permanent secretary)

– Phillip Paulwell, former science, energy and technology minister

– Ruel Reid, then education minister

– Audrey Sewell, permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister

– Dr Andrew Wheatley, former science, energy and technology minister