When Sir George Alleyne leaves UWI, he’ll be sorely missedSaturday, October 29, 2016
It is that joyful time of year when thousands of bright young men and women, having satisfactorily met the requirements of their examiners, are granted their degrees from the venerable University of the West Indies (UWI).
They have passed an important transformational threshold in their lives and are poised for employment in their chosen professions orpursuing future or more advanced studies. We are exceedingly proud of these future leaders and nation-builders. We commend them and wish them well in their future endeavours.
We also acknowledge all those whose sacrifice afforded them the opportunity of a university education, a privilege that too few Jamaicans enjoy. As they leave the hallowed portals of UWI they must, in turn, give back by enabling others to avail themselves of a tertiary education.
Amidst the joy of the occasion of the graduation and the celebrations came the unhappy news that the revered and beloved Sir George Alleyne, chancellor of the University of the West Indies for nearly 13 years, has decided to relinquish the post. Sir George MD, FRCP, FACP (Hon), DSc (Hon), has rendered invaluable service in his calm, urbane and dignified style.
He has worked tirelessly, travelling the Caribbean, dispensing sage advice with wit, sound judgement and an unfailingly friendly personality. This octogenarian with the energy of a man half his age shook the hand of every graduate (numbering several thousands) across the three campuses of UWI.
He came to UWI, Mona to study medicine and was an excellent student, graduating as the gold medal-winning student in 1957. For many years, starting in 1976, Sir George was an extensively published professor and gifted lecturer whose students can recite lessons from his enlightening pedagogy, sometimes as much as 40 years later.
He later became director of the Pan-American Health Organisation for two terms, from 1995 to 2003. He was elected director emeritus. On retirement he was drafted to become chancellor. Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles described Sir George’s long and stellar career as a "journey of distinction".
Born in Barbados he has spent most of his life in Jamaica and Washington, DC. Known to his friends by his nickname "Champ", his brilliance is magnified by his humility and a fecund mind ever learning across many disciplines. A further mark of his eminent good sense is that he is married to Dr Sylvan Alleyne, a distinguished Jamaican who lectured at Howard University and worked at the National Institutes of Health.
The UWI will have to find another suitable person to fill the post of chancellor come next year when he demits office. However, Sir George Alleyne will remain the irreplaceable champion and he will be sorely missed.
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