THE year 2023 will have challenges but also glorious victory based on plans to expand the footprint of the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC), its President Dr Haldane Davies has forecast.
Delivering his "State of the University" address at their main campus in Kingston on January 13, Dr Davies reported on the advances made by the UCC in 2022 and plans for further growth and development in 2023.
"The UCC has accomplished great things since its inception. As times change and opportunities expand, we have even greater heights to achieve. I am truly thankful for you and the potential that you possess to traverse the unbeaten path, create new access points, and propel this university from good to great," he told faculty and students.
"There is no time like this time to strengthen our stakes, lengthen our cords, and expand our curtains — for something great is about to happen."
The institution, he said, "will be a voice crying in the wilderness of educational, social and economic despair; a voice of hope declaring that our people, nation, region and beyond will have expanded opportunities for growth, resilience, prosperity, and sustainability — all because of our boldness, courage, confidence, faith and audacity to challenge the status quo, make tough decisions, take strategic action, and traverse the unknown to bring excellence home".
Reporting on his first 120 days as president of this UCC, Dr Davies acknowledged the "hard work of staff and colleagues in helping to collaboratively build another round on the ladder of UCC's success".
Among the milestones he noted was the signing of initial memoranda of understanding (MOU) to collaborate with partners in Europe, Africa, North America, and South America to receive and share in programmes and offerings, and the work which continues towards exploring similar arrangements with potential partners in Central America, the Caribbean, and Asia.
In celebrating UCC's advancements Dr Davies reported that the university joined the Association of Governing Boards — the premier voice on good governance in higher education, and which also obtained membership in the International Economic Development Council — a guiding voice in global economic and urban development with which they are in the process of developing an agreement to offer the certified economic developer programme across the Caribbean through what will be known as the UCC Centre for Economic and Urban Studies.
"We are in the process of joining the National Certified Public Manager Consortium to offer the certified public manager designation in our region; and we have signed an agreement with the Anti-Money Laundering and Financial Crimes Institute to provide internationally recognised certifications in anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism, countering the financing of proliferation, and financial crimes prevention," he explained.
The UCC, he said, "has set in motion an amended organisational structure and a shared governance mechanism to enable the engagement of stakeholders in the administration of the university. We have approved a tuition remission policy, authorised a compensation study, and approved a budget that includes salary increments together with new faculty and staff positions, among other key priorities".
A major accomplishment for the UCC, Dr Davies revealed, is the expanded collaboration to provide more asynchronous programmes and credentials in English, Spanish and Portuguese; increased corporate training offerings to include the global services sector; and expanded business development and innovation opportunities.
He applauded a $20-million grant for the university's Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, an agreement signed between Niche Financing and the university for students to access up to $4 million to assist with financing their education at the UCC and also commended funding support from the Organization of America States for the establishment of a DIA Lab at the university.
In balance, Dr Davies referenced the university's philanthropic work including the launch of the UCC Ignite Community Impact Fund that will assist students and community persons in need in the various locations in which they serve.
In addition, the university is in the process of reigniting the UCC Foundation and developing an investment and spending policy statement and MOU between the university and the foundation for the astute management of the institution's holdings.
Expanding on this Dr Davies noted, "We have met the eligibility criteria and have been invited to participate in the Commonfund Forum and to have them serve as our OCIO [outsourced chief investment officer] to manage the assets of the foundation that we will be aggressively pursuing and [which will be] led by the vice-president for institutional advancement. As part of the strategic plan we will be developing a case statement that will serve as our guide for fund-raising, naming rights, and contracts and grants acquisition."
Reiterating his commitment to leading the UCC to "higher heights" Dr Davies reminded, "the mission of this university is to prepare students to become exceptional business and community leaders, innovators, and scholars in a caring and intellectually stimulating academic environment. All community members are valued, respected and challenged to embrace excellence, integrity and social responsibility".