From Sista P to Dr P

University said eagerly awaiting Simpson Miller's new role 'in a few weeks'

Staff reporter

Monday, July 17, 2017

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THE top man at The University of the West Indies has revealed what he called the “highly anticipated” transition of former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller when she joins the academic community “in a few weeks”.

Vice Chancellor of the UWI Professor Hilary Beckles told patrons at a gala hosted by the People's National Party's Women's Movement, of which Simpson Miller also served as president, that things were progressing smoothly to ensure that Simpson Miller fits into her new role.

“Her transition from Sista P to Doctor P is highly anticipated, and The University of the West Indies is keenly looking forward to embracing her and welcoming her very shortly as our next honourable distinguished fellow of the UWI,” Beckles stated to thunderous applause at the event held at the Spanish Court Hotel, The Worthington, in New Kingston.

“You have much to teach the next generation and our classroom is already awaiting you. The world of diplomacy, the world of global institutional engagements, this world awaits you. We look at the UWI, to being a part of this next stage and the development of your career,” he said.

“We know that you will be much sought after across the world to share with them your wisdom, your democratic principles and your values, and we will be honoured each time you go into the world to perform at the level we know you will and must and to return back to our Mona Campus,” he continued.

Simpson Miller, 71, retired as president of the Opposition People's National Party in February of this year, and only weeks ago stepped aside as leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament for the constituency of St Andrew South Western, which she represented in Parliament from 1976 to 1983 and again from 1989 to 2017.

Saturday night's event was held as a tribute to Simpson Miller for her contribution to politics in Jamaica in general, and the PNP Women's Movement in particular.

Beckles outlined that while Simpson Miller will be based at the Mona Campus, she will be made available to the other four campuses “who are already competing to welcome her”.

“Our honourable distinguished fellow will be coming home to the UWI as it enters the 70th year of service and leadership to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. What a magnificent gift to have in our community as we reach our three scores and 10, our age of wisdom,” he noted. “My only regret is that the late great Rex [Nettleford] will not be at Mona to welcome her, but we are all spiritual people and we know that he will bless the space that we will provide for her.” The late Professor Nettleford served as vice chancellor of the UWI.

Beckles in his address said that the “sophistication” of Simpson Miller's transition encouraged the UWI to develop a culture of “transitioning our great political leaders to share their knowledge with students, researchers and the wider world.

“The distinct way in which this party, the Jamaican Parliament and the people of Jamaica, despite the cut and thrust of party politics, have handled your transition back into civil society must be commended as a Caribbean best practice for the years to come,” the vice chancellor stated.

Meanwhile, Simpson Miller expressed gratitude for the honour and vowed to finding “new ways to continue to improve the lives of Jamaicans” across the world.

“I look forward to the next part of my journey and, remember, I'm not going very far. I will be quite near Professor Beckles. I look forward to going to the UWI,” she told the gathering, which had 78-year-old United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters as the guest speaker.

The PNP also conferred on Simpson Miller the rank of officer for life and party leader emeritus — the latter a rank bestowed also upon former prime minister and party president P J Patterson.




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