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AFUWI Salutes Light, Liberty, Learning

AFUWI Salutes Light, Liberty, Learning

by Marcia Erskine

The theme was “Light, Liberty, Learning” and no one present at the 11th annual American Foundation for the University of the West Indies (AFUWI) gala at the Waldorf Astoria, New York, on Monday, January 28, 2008, could dispute the rich legacy of accomplishments of those honoured that night.

Both University of the West Indies (UWI) Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne and Vice Chancellor, Professor E. Nigel Harris, commended the contributions of the “distinguished global citizens” which included AFUWI Gala Patron Dr. the Hon. Harry Belafonte,O.J., well regarded as a pioneer in popularizing Caribbean music forms overseas and Digicel CEO & Founder, Denis O’Brien, top corporate awardee.

Special awards were presented to Professor Anthony Chen, Dr. John Agard and Dr. Leonard Nurse, three UWI faculty who are members of the Inter-Governmental Panel for Climate Control which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore.

Luminary Awards to Caribbean persons who have made outstanding contributions in their respective fields were awarded to Dr. Rollin Bertrand, CEO of TCL Group of Companies; Winston Bayley, Chief Financial Officer of The University of the West Indies; Minna Israel, Managing Director Designate, RBTT Bank Jamaica Ltd.; Paul Altman, Managing Director, Altman Real Estate; Vincent HoSang, Founder and CEO, Caribbean Food Delights and Stephen Cozier, Vice President for Caribbean and Central America at the Bank of Nova Scotia.

The Vice Chancellor’s Achievement Awards for persons of Caribbean heritage in North America who are rising stars in their organizations were awarded to Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; Reggie Canal, First Vice President of HSBC; Noel Hankin, Sr. Vice President of Moet Hennessy; Ray Goldburn,  Executive Vice President of Black Entertainment Television; Colbert Narcisse, Chief Administrative Officer of Merrill Lynch and Roy Hastick, Founder of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.

Mr. Kenneth DeGhetto, Retired Chairman of Foster Wheeler Incorporated and former chairman of the American Foundation for The University of the West Indies received an award for his service to the Foundation and the University.

Successive AFUWI galas have honoured a host of individuals and organizations linked to the Caribbean who have made exceptional contributions to the world around them.   They have included: Maya Angelou, Colin Powell, Sidney Poitier, Whoopi Goldberg, Johnetta Cole, Cicely Tyson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Al Roker and Hon. Dr. Jimmy Cliff.  Several companies including AMOCO, ALCAN, Chevron Texaco, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Citibank and Atlantic LNG, have also been recognized.

Seven Caribbean Prime Ministers were honoured in 2002, including: The Rt. Hon. P.J. Patterson, Jamaica; Dr. the Hon. Kenny Anthony, St. Lucia; The Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, Barbados; Dr. the Hon. Denzil Douglas, St. Kitts & Nevis; Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, The Hon. Patrick Manning, Trinidad & Tobago and Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell of Grenada.

AFUWI has over the past decade provided many scholarships and grants and funded special projects to foster the development of the UWI.

The annual gala is a stellar event on the programme of AFUWI which was established in 1956 to develop an endowment fund in the USA for the University of the West Indies and now serves as the primary vehicle for the UWI in its capital campaign and fund raising efforts there.