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UK university renames centre after Caribbean stalwart

Published:Thursday | April 29, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The University of Warwick has renamed its Centre for Caribbean Studies the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies in honour of the Guyanese philanthropist and businessman.

The year 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the centre, one of Europe's leading institutions for Caribbean scholarship.

The centre researches all aspects of the Caribbean's history and culture. The centre's associate fellows have included, Lord Alli, Professor Stuart Hall, Baroness Young, Trevor Phillips and Baroness Amos.

One of the features of the centre is its offering of a Baroness Amos Research Fellowship, which is open to staff and postdoctoral applicants from the University of the West Indies, the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the University of Guyana.

The annual Walter Rodney Memorial Lecture, given in honour of the distinguished Guyanese historian killed in 1980, also creates another link between that country and the university, in particular the centre.

Delighted

"The renaming is a wonderful way to mark the centre's 25th anniversary. I am also delighted that Yesu Persaud has not only been an active associate fellow of the centre but, through his friends and business colleagues in the Caribbean, Europe and North America, he has also brought in significant financial support for the centre's work. We have long thought that all of this work should be more recognised. I am delighted that he has now agreed to allow us to rename the centre in his honour. I know this will be warmly welcomed by Guyanese and Caribbean people," said Professor Nigel Thrift, the University of Warwick's vice-chancellor.

Persaud has been an associate fellow of the centre for some 12 years and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Warwick in 2008. Other senior Caribbean-related figures to be so honoured by the university connected with the centre include Guyana's Sir Shridath Ramphal (a former chancellor of the University of Warwick), Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, and Sir Hugh Springer (former governor general of Barbados).

A leading and respected Guyanese business figure and philanthropist, Persaud is also known for his support of human rights and democracy.

He has received several international and national awards, including the Gandhi Organisation Plaque for his contribution to promoting Indian culture in Guyana, the Cacique Crown of Honour for the development of new industries in Guyana in 1983, and the Glory of India Award and Certificate of Excellence by the India International Friendship Society in 2005.

In 2006, India honoured Persaud with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman for his outstanding contributions to business and Indian history and culture. Persaud is a founding member of Guyana's Indian Arrival Committee which was later converted into the Indian Commemoration Trust. He is one of the main persons responsible for creating the Monument Garden which marks the arrival of the first batch of Indian indentured labou-rers to Guyana in 1838.