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SEEN UP NORTH: Linking BCC, US college


TONY BEST

SEEN UP NORTH: Linking BCC, US college

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Less than two years into a top university administrative position in the United States, Dr Ivelaw Griffith is taking steps to broaden his university’s links with Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean.

Known around the Caribbean and among international military and police top brass as the Caribbean’s leading security expert in the US, Griffith, grandson of Bajans from St Lucy, was recently chosen as the ninth president of Fort Valley State University (FVSU) in Georgia, an accredited coeducational college with a history of educating black students dating back to 1895, is due in Barbados in two weeks on what he describes as a “very important” mission. It’s part of the state university system in Georgia.

“We want Barbadians to become more aware of Fort Valley State University as a highly regarded educational institution of higher learning,” said Griffith, who was born in Guyana but readily speaks of his Barbadian family connections.

“Yes, my roots are also in Barbados. Secondly, we are seeking to establish firm links with the Barbados Community College so that Bajan students can extend their educational experience to FVSU and some of our students can see what it is like to be in Barbados in general and the BCC in particular. Our academic strengths are in agriculture, veterinary technology, the arts and sciences, early childhood and special education, public health and a range of other areas. We are convinced that our university and the Barbados Community College can be effective partners in higher education.”

So when Griffith and the delegation he heads meet with Dr Gladstone Best, principal of the Barbados Community College, they are expected to discuss and sign a memorandum of understanding agreeing

“to engage in cooperative programmes of education and research, and promote exchange among faculty and students of both institutions”.

Fort Valley State, one of three publicly funded historically black colleges and universities in Georgia, has a long history of preparing students for careers in agriculture. It also has an extensive record of training educators, business leaders and scholars and Griffith, who until recently was the Provost of York College of the City University of New York, said both BCC and FVSU could benefit from a “strong relationship” that exposes their students and faculties to each other’s rich traditions.

“As we see it, the collaboration we are seeking would include teaching, research, exchange of faculty and students, staff development and a variety of educational, cultural and sporting activities which would be of mutual benefit to the two schools,” said Griffith.

“We already have a relationship with the University of the West Indies [UWI] at St Augustine and we see Barbados Community College as an important extension to the academic partnerships we are establishing in the Caribbean. We are also hoping to have discussions with the senior officials of the UWI Cave Hill campus and Codrington College.”

More than 3 000 students are enrolled at FVSU and the school awards associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. For instance, its College of Agriculture, Family Science and Technology offers academic programmes in agricultural economics, education, engineering and technology, and animal science as well as electronic engineering technology, family and consumer science education, food and nutrition, infant and child development, plant science and veterinary technology.

The University’s College of Arts and Sciences conducts courses in almost 20 areas of study, including accounting, computer information, biology, chemistry, criminal justice, mass communication, psychology, computer information systems, music, mathematics, political science, liberal studies, commercial design, English, management, marketing and psychology.

Next is its College of Education, which provides training in early childhood and special education and health and physical education. The University’s College of Graduate Studies and Extended Education awards Master of Arts and Science degrees in teaching, school and rehabilitation counselling, animal science, public health, biology, biotechnology, environmental science, bio-technology and mental health counselling and other subjects.

“We would welcome students from the Barbados Community College who have completed their two-year courses of study and are planning to continue on to bachelor degree programmes,” said Griffith. “We see opportunities for Barbadians to receive training in agricultural sciences. After all, agriculture is more than just farming and with the exceedingly high country’s food import bill and a time of economic challenges, the opportunities for training that would provide for food security are significant indeed.”

Griffith arrives in Barbados on November 9 and leaves three days later. He will be accompanied by Dr Govind Kannan, Dean of the School of Agriculture, and director of admissions Donovan Coles.

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