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The UWI Regional Headquarters, Kingston, Jamaica, May 17, 2020 —The following is a Tribute to Oliver Clarke by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI).

Any tribute to Oliver Clarke should depart from his renowned trademark; the sharp, critical mind, spiced with a mischievous “wicked wit” and gentle charm of character.  So deeply embedded were these effervescent elements it’s now challenging imagining the end of Oliver’s innings at the wicket.

In recent years he batted brilliantly for The University of the West Indies. There were several invitations to his famed Gleaner breakfast meetings to share and discuss The UWI’s strategies and resource needs with stakeholders. We appreciated the many meals over which we mulled over the details of our strategic plan. OFC came on board to support our industry-academic partnership and our preparations to take The UWI to market in search of private sector investment.

A high point in proof of our partnering came in 2018. His commitment was tested. He rose beyond the parameters of our request, and offered us the opportunity for the University to showcase its enormous legacy during its 70th anniversary. The University was offered full editorial freedom over a Gleaner supplement that enabled it to tell its story and to project its thinking about the future.

Oliver didn’t suffer foolishness in his rush to support and promote good works.  In this regard, he was an effective advisor, and a reliable ally.  Private business was his life and hallmark. The University, he urged, should build a two-way bridge to business. We were bonded in our commitment to this project.

And what a gentleman. No dinner or lunch to which he was invited went by for long without the host receiving a card of appreciation. I shall miss this hugely misunderstood man.

And so, far too soon, the “wicked wit” man left the wicket. What an outstanding innings played for his family, country and region!



About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies; the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ); The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development; The UWI-Coventry Institute for Industry-Academic Partnership with the University of Coventry and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of Glasgow.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018 and 2019. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)