Tribute to Matthew William, Former Head of the University Centre, The Bahamas

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Global Campus (formerly Open Campus) mourns the passing of Mr Matthew William, former University Representative, Resident Tutor, and Head of the University Centre in The Bahamas. His colleagues described him as “a gentleman, a scholar, an academic leader, a diplomat, a Caribbean man, and an astute observer of Bahamian politics and lifestyle.”

Born in Aruba, Netherland Antilles to Grenadian parents, Mr William obtained his Bachelor of Arts and a Certificate in Education from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and a Master of Education from the University of Miami, Florida. Although not a graduate of The UWI, he was a proud associate alumnus and Life Member of The UWI Alumni Association (UWIAA). He established the Grenadian Mission in Venezuela in 1980 and served as Ambassador for Grenada to Venezuela from 1980-1985.

Mr William’s service to The UWI spans eighteen (18) years from 1990 to his retirement in 2008. His work and commitment through service, leadership, and the advancement of higher education for all in the Bahamas were evident in his care and concern for students and his promotion of The UWI. He was a passionate advocate for underserved and disadvantaged students and maintained a constant voice in support of the promotion of English and other languages as well as mathematics education. He was also a believer in technological advancement that could strengthen the competitive advantage of the University in The Bahamas.

During his service, Matthew William represented The UWI as its official representative at several meetings with Ministries of government in The Bahamas, including Education, Health, Agriculture, Finance, and Immigration. Through his networking and leadership roles, he ensured the maintenance of an accurate record of the impact of the University in the Bahamas; addressed immigration officials on the ways of improving the treatment of UWI students at the airport; addressed many service clubs in the Nassau and Freeport areas on the work of the West Indies Commission; and at symposia on the future of Caribbean Integration.

He contributed selflessly to the work of the University as he served as a member of the Academic Programming Committee at the former School of Continuing Studies and Distance Education Centre and on the Board for Non-Campus Countries (NCC) and Distance Education concurrently from 2003-2005; as a member of the Council and Senate of the University representing the former NCCs from 1993-1994; and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Trade Union Education Institute from 1999-2008.

He had a strong interest in trade unions and labour relations, as well as adult education. Some of his publications on these topics include articles, conferences, and seminar papers on “UWI in The Bahamas:

Educating Adults” published in Adult Education in Caribbean Universities, Kingston, Jamaica: UNESCO 2002, “Trade Union in the New Millenium” presented at the 13th Triennial Conference of the Trade Union Congress in The Bahamas, February 26, 1999, “The Impact of Haitian Immigration on the Educational System in The Bahamas” presented at the Caribbean Studies Association Conference, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, May 22-27, 1995, and “UWI in The Bahamas: Forging Relationships” in YOUWEQ #3, 2000.

His multidimensional contributions to higher education were influenced by practical and realistic approaches that were consistent with his ideals and values. His outstanding scholarship, his leadership and his collegiate sense of obligation and service were some of his outstanding attributes. In July 2008, on his retirement from the University, the Open Campus honoured him for his work and commitment to service, leadership, and the advancement of higher education.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, The UWI Global Campus, Dr. Francis O. Severin reminisces the moments spent with Mr William at the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) Director’s meetings while they both served as Resident Tutors and Heads in their respective jurisdictions. “Matthew judiciously crafted and shaped his interventions at these meetings. His points were always well made, solid and came from a place of deep contemplation. Indeed, he was the vintage and essential diplomat. It was a pleasure to work with him.” Dr Severin adds, “We have seen a few of our precursor SCS Resident Tutors and Heads depart in recent times, and, in their memories, we must pause to ruminate on their collective commitment to the provision of education and training to the least of our sisters and brothers, to invoke Biblical language. As this era comes to an end, it is perhaps the right time to revamp and revitalize our commitment to leaving no one behind, which is the grounding philosophy of the Global Campus and its predecessors.”

The Global Campus Senior Management Team extends sincere condolences to his wife and children, as well as his colleagues and friends. May his soul rest in peace.

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