JAMES ‘JIM’ HALL, who died on May 15, served as Superintendent of Works (now Manager of Maintenance) at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus for 22 years, from 1972 until his retirement in 1994.
Jim was a master builder and a first-class property manager. Under his leadership, the Campus undertook its most complex building works as inhouse projects, which were all delivered at the highest quality, on schedule, and often considerably below budget.
In this way, he helped the Campus – always strapped for funds because of the almost perennial financial indebtedness of its contributing governments – to expand its teaching, research, library, student residences and other infrastructure far beyond what its funds would otherwise have allowed. For this, Jim stands high among the great builders of The UWI Cave Hill Campus.
Jim was one among the thousands who responded to England’s call for young, skilled and educated West Indian workers to assist in its reconstruction following World War 2.
He spent 17 years accumulating valuable work experience and technical qualifications, often studying at night to obtain the latter. On his return, he was immediately snapped up by the University, where he would make an indelible contribution to its development for over two decades.
By 1972, the Cave Hill Campus was in its first phase of expansion since moving to its permanent site on ‘the Hill’. Its enrolment was rising exponentially, and its space provision was in danger of falling below international standards.
Jim fitted neatly into an ethos of prudence and frugality honed by principals Sir Sidney Martin, then Sir Keith Hunte; the hands-on attitude of registrar/secretary Francis Woodbine “Woodie” Blackman; and the financial husbandry of finance officer Victor Cooke.
Together, they found ways to eke savings out of every last dollar the Campus received for operations in order to provide essential capital.
With Jim on board, the Campus became a ‘DIY campus’: every cent counted and every building done in-house.
The list was long and includes the following and much more: the bookshop; the Biology block; maintenance offices; the aquaculture lab; additional science labs; extensions to the Social Sciences building; a lecture theatre for large classes; a new wing for the Law Faculty; and the Roy Marshall Teaching Complex, constructed for more than $1M less than the lowest public competitive tender.
Next to the Roy Marshall Teaching Complex, the Frank Worrell Hall stands as a monument to his considerable professional skill and service to the University. Loan and donor funds were provided for 148 student beds, Jim as ‘constructor’ delivered 180.
By the time of his retirement, Jim’s excellent professional standing and his international reputation were reflected in his memberships of the Chartered Institute of Building (ACIOB); the Royal Society of Health (MRSH); the Association of Building Engineers (MABE); his election as an executive committee member of the World Organisation of Building Engineers; and membership of the Advisory Council of Construction Industry Development (Lagos Nigeria), among others.
Jim’s contributions extended beyond The UWI in his consultancies to expand the Caribbean Development Bank headquarters and St Stephen’s Anglican Church, as well as the construction of Christ the King Anglican Church building, among others.
Jim’s passing is a great loss to Barbados. May he rest in peace.
THE LATE James ‘Jim’ Hall. (GP)