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UWI principal happy with outcome of hall talks

Friday, November 10, 2017

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PRINCIPAL of the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Archibald McDonald has listed resolving the dispute between students and administration over the cost of accommodation in the new Irvine Hall housing facility among several achievements for the current academic year.

“We were able to keep our agreement with the students by providing a special rate for the newly constructed hall,” Professor McDonald told participants in his first Town Hall meeting for the 2017/2018 academic year on the campus, recently.

He was addressing the issue of the reopening of Irvine Hall, which was expanded to accommodate 432 students, up from its previous capacity of 286 residents.

Students had earlier this year protested against what they claimed was a 30 per cent increase in the cost of the accommodation. However, the university pointed out that it was not an increase in the cost of available accommodation, but the cost of using a newly built facility.

The issue was eventually resolved following discussions between the students and the university.

“The true test of this reconstruction is the management of the facility. As such, an internal management and quality assurance team was developed to ensure that the investment of the Mona Campus is maintained optimally for the benefit of the students residing on this hall,” the principal said.

Professor McDonald said the town hall meeting provided a forum to engage staff and gain valuable feedback and suggestions for improvement, as well as to address their concerns.Commenting on the planned UWI/JCF training partnership which aims to bolster the Jamaica Constabulary Force's staff complement, Professor McDonald explained that the Mona Campus would assist the Government with the training of 300 officers every six months for the next three years.

He said that, additionally, the venture would assist the country's crime -fighting strategy through technology and collaboration between the School of Engineering and the JCF, to establish an app Development Team. The team will create an App which will disrupt criminal cyber activity and be fully accessible to officers at all times, from any location.

The principal also explored several ongoing and planned initiatives to strengthen the campus' financial position, including: a UWI independent water source which, in addition to providing a reliable source of water, will result in significant savings for the campus; and plans to commission a co-generation plant on the campus, to reduce The UWI's dependence on the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) resources.

It was also announced at the meeting that developments on the horizon for the university included conversion of the current health centre to a wellness facility for staff and students; the redevelopment of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) from a 500-bed to a 1,000-bed facility; and establishment of a multi-purpose campus and student centre.

McDonald also updated the gathering on the status of the 2017-2022 UWI strategic plan, which has as its main focus access, alignment and agility, and will be rolled out in the current academic year.

The strategic plan, the principal said, is intended to revitalise Caribbean development, advance learning, create knowledge and foster the innovation for positive transformation of the Caribbean.

He also outlined that his vision for the institution saw increased gains in the development of a culture of accountability, working with Government and other tertiary-level institutions to increase national enrolment in tertiary institutions to 33 per cent and finding innovative solutions to the financial and social problems on the campus, in Jamaica and across the region.

The town hall setting is designed to facilitate interaction among all categories of employees — academic, administrative, and service staff, to keep them abreast of developments on the campus.

— Balford Henry

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