A man of excellence
HE WAS SHOWERED with accolades and received a standing ovation, sustained applause and numerous gifts during a ceremony that signalled the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
The estimated 150 people attending the black tie affair Wednesday night at the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination honouring Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir George Alleyne, represented the who’s who of regional academia, the judiciary, diplomatic corps and politics.
A moving tribute by one of his two sons, Adrian, paved that way for similar praises from representative bodies at the university, principals, and Minister of Education Ronald Jones.
“Sir George is driven by care for the University of the West Indies that cared for him, a lesson in loyalty to be admired and celebrated,” said, vice-chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, who proposed the toast.
Praised for his humility, Sir George, 84, stayed true to that tenet, instead shining the spotlight on the support given by his wife of 58 years and his relatives, some of whom were in the audience.
As he prepares to exit the system, he gave a vote of confidence in the university, much like he did in 1951 when he chose to attend the then fledgling University College of the West Indies in Jamaica over Cambridge in pursuit of a career in medicine.
“We are not alone among the institutions of higher education which find themselves with competing demands from the three major parts of the state: the government, the private sector and the public or civil society. There are demands which these three parts often make without there being commensurate responsibility for providing the means by which they can be met,“ he noted.
“But I have absolute confidence, born of the lessons of history in the durability and adaptability of institutions like ours and the capacity to address those demands. A great part if not all of that confidence derives from the quality of the men and women who now manage our affairs.
During the ceremony, Cave Hill principal Eudine Barriteau announced that the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Barbados would establish The George Alleyne Prize For The Most Outstanding Student In Medicine for the most outstanding student on all the campuses during the five-year MBBS programme.
“This new annual award echoes the 60-year-old University Gold Medal for the best clinical student in medicine, which Sir George earned in 1957. More importantly, it honours the legacy of one of our finest physicians and establishes continuity with future generations of doctors,” said the professor.
The three-and-a-half-hour ceremony preceded the annual business meeting of the university council at Cave Hill, which Sir George’s chaired for the last time. (WILLCOMM)