Bridgetown, Barbados (Barbados Today) – The University of the West Indies’ global reputation is in danger of being irreparably damaged if Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles’ term of office is not renewed, more than 100 members of the international academic community have warned in a petition.
The sobering message is contained in a strongly-worded “letter of concern” to the Council of the UWI in which some 142 academics from universities, colleges and other institutions of thought from across the globe are pushing for the outgoing Vice-Chancellor’s reappointment.
Most of the scholars are professors from such higher educational institutions as Harvard University, Yale University and the University College of London. Others represent such universities as Rhodes University, Syracuse University, New York University and the University of Johannesburg.
They said they are particularly worried that the renowned Barbadian historian’s contract may not be renewed because of his outspokenness on issues of justice, equity and ethics.
As the globe-trotting chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission Sir Hilary has spearheaded the region’s advocacy for the Caribbean’s former slave-holding and colonising European states to honour the historical debt owed to the Caribbean through slavery and colonialism.
The petition said: ‘We thus implore the leaders of The UWI, regional leaders and the Council of the University of the West Indies to uphold the highest values on which the institution is built. Professor Beckles should not be subjected to recriminations for his scholar-activism. To do so would have a chilling effect on younger generations of scholars at a time, globally, when ethical resolve is needed more than ever. In addition, this will bring irreparable damage to the international reputation of UWI.