UNIVERSITY of the West Indies (UWI) Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Archibald McDonald has been formally inducted as the 13th principal of the institution's oldest campus, Mona.
He was installed during a ceremony at the institution on Tuesday, presided over by UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne, and witnessed by a wide cross-section of government, diplomatic, and academic officials from across the region.
Professor McDonald succeeds Professor Gordon Shirley, to whom he was vice-principal. After serving for six years, Professor Shirley demitted office earlier this year, following his secondment to the Port Authority of Jamaica as president and chief executive officer.
In addition to being vice-principal, Professor McDonald also served as head of the Department of Surgery, and dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the Mona campus.
An accomplished surgeon, Professor McDonald has had a distinguished pioneering career in the area of trauma and emergency medicine. His work in these areas, as well as hospital emergency services, university administration, and medical education, have had an indelible impact throughout Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. He will have as his vice-principal, Professor Ishen-Kumba Kahwa.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, who delivered brief remarks, congratulated the new principal and underscored the high level of confidence reposed in his ability to effectively spearhead the university's administration.
"The University of the West Indies retains pride of place in the firmament of tertiary educational institutions in Jamaica. The nation requires the service of the entire university community in fulfilling urgent national needs. Professor McDonald, during his tenure, as with his predecessors, must continue to play a crucial role in the ongoing transformation of Jamaican education. We wish him well, and pledge (the government's) unstinting cooperation," Thwaites said.
In executing the induction formalities, Sir George told Professor McDonald that maintenance of the Mona Campus' current "luster" and cementing its future "are to a great extent in your hands and will depend, in large measure, on the skill and assiduity with which you guide... and manage its affairs".
The chancellor noted that Professor McDonald's illustrious career makes him fit to undertake the task.
"A brilliant graduate of this university, your training in your chosen discipline of surgery, your outstanding achievements in the treatment of trauma, your ascendance of the academic ladder to become a professor of surgery, your election to the deanship of your faculty, which, under you, doubled its enrolment, and the demonstration of your competence as an administrator, as evidenced by the erection of a splendid building, the Faculty Teaching and Learning Complex, and the capstone, the award of the Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence, are all earnest of your fitness for (this) purpose," Sir George stated.
Professor Harris, in welcoming Professor McDonald's appointment, also noted his "commendable and solid record of leadership" on the Mona Campus.
"Given your proven track record, I believe that there is very good reason for optimism about your tenure as principal. Let me urge you that you become, not only an effective leader for your campus, but one who can ably team up with your regional counterparts to make our university a truly great one," Professor Harris said.
Chairman of the UWI Mona Campus Council Dr Marshall Hall, in his remarks, noted that Professor McDonald has been asked to lead the university at a time when there is no honeymoon period.
"He has to instantly wrestle with financing needs at all levels, students, faculties, staff, and capital requirements. But he has to find time to step (back) from these complex day-to-day issues and, with his colleagues, continue the growth and diversification of UWI, Mona. He will [need to] do that within the framework of his own vision and his own priorities, as he brings to these tasks a wealth of administrative experience and proven academic excellence," Dr Hall stated, while assuring Professor McDonald of the campus council's support.
In his inaugural address, Professor McDonald said he was "truly honoured" and "immensely humbled" to be appointed principal.
He acknowledged the "laudable contributions" of his immediate predecessors, Professors Sir Kenneth Hall, Gordon Shirley, and Elsa Leo-Rhynie, each of whom, he said "crafted unique styles in educational leadership that are worthy of emulation".
"I am extremely humbled to have been asked to step into the ranks of these incredible trailblazers who have made significant contributions to tertiary education and the development of the Jamaican society. All three of my predecessors have created a long-lasting legacy of transformative leadership at the university and it is this legacy that I am humbled to now follow," Professor McDonald stated.
Among persons in attendance were principals of the UWI's campuses at Cave Hill, Barbados, Professor Hilary Beckles; and St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, Professor Clement Sankat; and the Open Campus, Professor Hazel Simmons-McDonald.