Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie awarded Chancellor's Medal

Monday, July 03, 2017

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PROFESSOR Elsa Leo-Rhynie, professor emerita of The University of the West Indies (UWI), was awarded the Chancellor's Medal by Chancellor Sir George Alleyne at a ceremony at the UWI Regional Headquarters on June 23.

The Chancellor's Medal is a special award of distinction made by the UWI Chancellor to a person who “has made a signal, substantial and likely lasting contribution to the welfare and development of The UWI, in the spirit of the CARICOM Heads of Government Declaration of Grande Anse which formally identified the leadership of UWI in tertiary education and decided that its regional character should be preserved indefinitely for the preparation of skills and advancement of knowledge needed for the growth and development of the Caribbean region.”

In addition, the Chancellor's Medal recognises a person who “has enabled The UWI to access significant resources for the achievement of its mission of unlocking the region's potential through delivering quality higher education through teaching, outreach, service and research”.

Professor Leo-Rhynie retired from the University in September 2007 as pro vice-chancellor and principal of the Mona campus; the first woman to be appointed to head a UWI campus and the first woman to have served as both deputy principal and principal. She was also the first professor and regional coordinator of gender and development studies at UWI and played a leadership role in the establishment of the Centre (now Institute) for Gender and Development Studies.

A number of educational and other institutions and initiatives have benefited from Leo-Rhynie's leadership and involvement: she chaired the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust, which advocates on behalf of early childhood education in Jamaica for over 25 years; and she has served as a member of council of the Caribbean Examinations Council, the University of Technology, Jamaica, as well as the governing boards of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, the University Hospital of the West Indies, the University Council of Jamaica, the United Way of Jamaica and the ICWI Group Foundation. She was a member of the Privy Council of Jamaica from 1996 to 2006. She has been chair of the GraceKennedy Foundation since 2008 and demits office this month. She remains a member of the board of the St Andrew High School Foundation.

Leo-Rhynie has been the recipient of a number of honours and awards, including the Pelican Awards of the UWI Alumni Association in 2002, and the national honour of Officer of Distinction (Commander Class) in 2000 and the Order of Jamaica in 2015. In 2013, she was honoured by The UWI Mona Campus in the naming of a new hall of residence as the Elsa Leo-Rhynie Hall, and in 2016 she was the honoree at The UWI Mona Commemoration celebrations when she delivered the commemoration lecture “Change and transformation at UWI 1992-2007: Back on the periphery, looking back”.

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