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Bermudez gets chancellor pick

Published: 
Friday, April 21, 2017
Non-educational successor for UWI
Education Minister Anthony Garcia during yesterday's post cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's. Businessman Robert Bermudez

In a significant break from tradition, the University of the West Indies is expected to appoint T&T businessman Robert Bermudez as its next chancellor.

Current UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne is scheduled to demit office at the end of July.

Bermudez is expected to become only the second T&T national to hold that office, the first being late prime minister Dr Eric Williams.

In making the announcement during yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said Bermudez was unanimously selected over other candidates.

The university’s Search Committee is made up of representatives from contributing governments, executives from the Senate of the UWI, Students Guild, Post-Graduate Students’ Association and the West Indies Group of University Teachers.

Garcia said the decision was taken after several meetings of the search committee. He said the Heads of Government, at a meeting in February, endorsed Bermudez’ selection.

He said the recommendation will be presented at the next meeting of the Council of the University of the West Indies in Barbados next week.

The minister said Bermudez’ wide business experience had played a key role in his selection.

“It was felt that the UWI should depend less on the coffers of the respective governments and should try as far as possible to generate its own funds,” Garcia said.

“We need to have this paradigm shift where we are looking at ways and means whereby the university can generate its own funds. We felt that we needed somebody with business experience.”

Garcia noted, for example, that the T&T government contributed $650 million to the UWI annually. He said when he meets with UWI officials for scheduled meetings he often raised the issue about the university becoming more self sufficient.

He also defended the search committee over concerns raised about the change from an education-based chancellor to that of a businessman, adding that Bermudez’ vision for the university was accepted.

Garcia noted that Bermudez is chairman of Bermudez Group Ltd, Bermudez Biscuit Company Ltd, Kiss Baking Company Ltd, Holiday Snacks Ltd, Jamaica Biscuit Company Ltd and Massy Holdings Ltd.