We regret to announce the passing of Alicia and Amanda Charles on Thursday, February 17, 2022. They were the daughters of Angus and Ellen Charles, sisters of Allister Charles; cousins of Natasha Williams-La Motte, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President in the Division of Student Services & Enrollment Management and Natalie Williams, past employee of the University.
Alicia worked as an “On the Job Trainee” (OJT) at the University of the Southern Caribbean in the Student Advisement Center as an Office Assistant for a short period from October 1, 2013 to October 31, 2013. Her past colleagues described her as having a quiet personality and a beautiful smile.
Amanda began her journey at the University of the Southern Caribbean as a student in the School of Business & Entrepreneurship. As a student she worked in the Admissions and Records-Transfer Credit, Department from March 2011 to December 2013. As part of her graduation requirements, January 6, 2014, she became a team member in the Human Resources Department as a Human Resource Assistant Intern.
On May 17, 2015, Amanda graduated with honors—Cum Laude from the USC with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a Human Resource Management Emphasis. Following her success, she worked as an “On the Job Trainee” (OJT), thereafter she was employed on contract as a Human Resource Assistant, and finally was permanently employed as the Human Resource Officer from May 1, 2019 until her untimely passing on February 17, 2022.
The charming, quiet personality, always smiling Amanda Melicia Charles will be missed by her immediate and past colleagues in the Human Resources Department, the University Registry/Records Office, the Administration, faculty, staff and students of the University not excluding the Satellite Sites.
The celebration of life for Alicia and Amanda will be given in a subsequent announcement.
USC’s Student Advisement Centre (SAC) recognizes the difficulties that students confront when participating in online learning. On February 3, 2022, Mr. Cecil Calliste, through the Needy Student Laptop Project presented USC students with laptops to aid in their studies.
At a presentation ceremony, hosted on USC’s Main Campus, Mr. Calliste, 81, retired Chief Anaesthesiology technician and a sponsor for the last two years of the university, graciously rose to the occasion by aiding several students. His donation aims to assist students as they maintain a positive relationship with their education.
Cecil Calliste highlighted the need for education and charitable giving. He demonstrated throughout his life that it is better to give than to always take. He is thankful to be blessed with the opportunities to assist those in need.
About Cecil Calliste
Cecil Calliste, native to Trinidad was born and raised in Sangre Grande and worked for a short duration of time in the Community Hospital of SDA. He then migrated to the United States in 1967 and worked in the Rosewood State hospital, Maryland and Boling Green Hospital, Ohio. He retired after working at Suburban Hospital in Maryland. It is there, where he met his now-lifelong friend and surgeon, Dr. Salander.
Both Dr. Salander and Mr. Calliste both since devoted themselves to charitable work in the United States, Maryland and the Caribbean region. The Needy Student Laptop Project, launched in January 2022 is a collaborative initiative spearheaded by Mr. Calliste, Dr. Salanader and USC’s Student Advisement Center (SAC).
Author: Susan Chand, PhD – Director, Office of Research & Innovation
President’s Brown Bag Series was launched by the former President, Dr. Trevor Gardner after USC was awarded a university status by the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago in 2006. Brown Bag Series was envisioned to be a platform for intellectual discourse and discussion for faculty at USC. The first lecture was delivered by an erudite Professor of Sociology, late Dr. Letroy Cummings from the School of Social Sciences. Dr. Cummings’s lecture drew from his extensive research based on content analysis of newspaper articles on intimate partner violence in Guyana. His work was published in the USC Journal of Research Volume II (2011) entitled “Incidents and Explanations of Romantic Homicides in Guyana”. This was the only series that was launched.
In 2015, Academic Forum was launched along the same objectives as the President’s Brown Bag Series. Academic Forum was conceptualized by the then Dean of Distance Education, Dr. Sylvan Lashley to offer engaging and constructive discussion around the presentations of scholarly work by faculty, staff or students. Two Academic Forums were held each semester.
The first Academic Forum was launched by the President, Dr. Clinton Valley on September 2, 2015, with Dr. Lashley and Ms. Colleen Letlow presenting their findings on their study, “Entrepreneurial teams at work: concepts and practices – live case. Since then, the Office of Research and Innovation has been hosting Academic Forums till the academic year 2020.
President’s Brown Bag Series Relaunch
The President’s Brown Bag Series was relaunched by our newly appointed 29th USC President, Dr. Colwick Wilson on November 10, 2021, via the zoom platform. This event featured Dr. Amanda Thomas, PhD, Research Methods and Statistics, Office of Research and Innovation, School of Graduate Studies and Research, USC. Her presentation was based on her doctoral thesis, “Differences in Academic Achievement between African American and African Caribbean Students studying in the United States: A Meta-Analysis”. This relaunch attracted over 40 attendees from USC community, members of the academic from the tertiary institutions of Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean, and the United States.
President’s Brown Bag Series – 2 – A Phenomenal Lecture by Dr. Hansel M. Fletcher
On January 26, 2022, Dr. Hansel M. Fletcher, an accomplished scientist and professor of molecular genetics/biochemistry of microbial diseases with focus on oral bacterial pathogens delivered a seminal lecture on “Overcoming Environmental Stress: Survival skills and the impact of the oral microbiome on the host”. Dr. Fletcher is currently an Assistant Dean of Graduate Student Affairs and Professor of Microbiology and Genetics in the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University, California.
The Office of the President and the Office of Research and Innovation jointly hosted this event. The session commenced with an opening prayer by Dr. Llyod Jacott, Chaplain at USC. Dr. Susan Chand, Director of Research and Innovation, extended a warm welcome to all the attendees, and presented an overview of the President’s Brown Bag Series at USC. Dr. Colwick Wilson welcomed Dr. Fletcher and formally acknowledged the presence of all the attendees including Dr. Sanjay Ramnanan, President of the Dental Association of Trinidad and Tobago and Dr. Rahul Naidu, Professor of Dental Public Health, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine. The attendees included faculty, staff and students at the University of the Southern Caribbean, faculty and students from the School of Dentistry and the Department of Microbiology, UWI, members from the Dental Association of Trinidad and Tobago and Dentists and Medical Doctors from the Caribbean and the United States. Also among the attendees were Dr. Wayne Greaves, Executive Director, Infectious Diseases, Merck Research Laboratories, New Jersey, USA and Dr. Walter Murray, Managing Director, Leadership Training LLC, USA. Over 46 attendees were present at this event. Dr. Sanjay Ramnanan rendered his greetings and presented an overview of the Dental Association of Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Edward Clarke, Dean, School of Social Sciences and Interim Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research introduced Dr. Fletcher. Dr. Angelle Bullard-Roberts responded to Dr. Fletcher’s lecture and mentioned that the diverse socio-cultural practices of the people of Trinidad impact their oral hygiene need to be addressed while making strides in oral health and overall well-being. She also iterated the need for collaborative research with the Loma Linda University, Dental Association of Trinidad and Tobago and the School of Dentistry. This was also expressed earlier by Dr. Ramnanan and later in his speech by Dr. Naidu. Dr. Rahul Naidu also responded to Dr. Fletcher’s lecture and asked a question ————(need to view the video for his question to Dr. Fletcher). Dr. Wanda Chesney accorded a vote of thanks to all contributing parties of the event, Dr. Fletcher, and the invitees. Dr. Kenneth Niles brought a close to the invigorating afternoon by a word of prayer.
Highlights of Dr. Fletcher’s Lecture:
Dr. Fletcher elucidated oral diseases as global health challenge affecting over 3.5 billion people globally. These chronic clinical conditions range from dental caries (tooth decay), periodontal (gum) disease, and cancer. He emphasized the relevancy of physical, social and psychosocial functioning as core elements for oral health and overall well-being. Dr. Fletcher highlighted the periodontal disease as an interaction of multiple factors leading to inflammation and bone loss. He further illustrated the host-microbe interaction that cause inflammation and bone loss. It was an astounding revelation that unhealthy teeth can be a causative factor for Alzheimer disease, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and insulin resistance, adverse pregnancy outcomes, respiratory tract infection and bacterial pneumonia. Towards the end of his lecture, Dr. Fletcher acknowledged his past and present research team and their landmark research on Filifactor alocis’ virulent attributes and interactions with periodontal pathogens, namely Pophyromonas gingivalis. His future project involves integrating current and novel techniques to modulate Dysbiotic Oralome.
9th Annual Harold Baptiste Lectureship: The Pandemic, Vaccination, and the Crisis of Adventist Identity
USC’s 9th Annual Harold Baptiste Lectureship is scheduled for Thursday, February 3, 2022 at 10:00am AST.
This year’s featured presenter is Dr. Nicholas Miller, a Professor of Church History and Director of the International Religious Liberty Institute at Andrews University, and Barrister at Law.
Dr. Miller’s will present on the topic: The Pandemic, Vaccination, and the Crisis of Adventist Identity.
- Zoom – Meeting ID: 930 6845 4972
- YouTube: youtube.com/UniversityoftheSouthernCaribbean
Author: Hayden McKenna
The president, administration, faculty and staff, students, alumni, family and friends of the University of the Southern Caribbean join in mourning the recent passing of an outstanding citizen and leader in our global university community. Having lived for an entire century and some extra days, the brilliant lifetime innings of Dr. George Carlington Simmons closed on December 30th 2021, in the presence of family.
We express our deepest condolences to his closest surviving relatives: his daughter Cheryl G. Simmons, his son George W. Simmons, his brother E. Martin Simmons, his grand-daughter Brooke Simmons, numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
George Carlington Simmons, affectionately called “Charlie” by some and “Fowler” by others, came to the crease in the Parish of St. Lucy on the British colony of Barbados on September 04, 1921. It is at St. Lucy he played his first watchful twenty. As his confidence grew, in 1941, he breached the boundary of life in St. Lucy and by 1945 he graduated from Caribbean Training College (now the University of the Southern Caribbean) in Maracas Valley, St. Joseph, Trinidad. His ambitious stroke-play, took him over several other notable academic, professional and personal boundaries.
His busy scoreboard was kept active at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA, where he added a Baccalaureate degree to his score in 1951. The boundaries of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; St. Andrews University in Scotland, UK and the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA were all conquered as this prodigious Barbadian added a Master of Arts degree (1953), a diploma in Education, (1960) and a Doctor of Philosophy degree (1963) respectively in his impressive run of form.
He was far from finished though. His education in the middle, prepared him for a celebrated career as an educator, classical scholar, bibliophile and philanthropist that extended beyond sixty years. In his rich professional life, he continued his assault on boundaries, taking the singles and twos also and drew-out a balanced wagon-wheel of accomplishments and service, in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Dr. Simmons has lectured in Canada, Germany, Romania, and Britain. His scholarly articles and book reviews have appeared in several peer-review journals. Dr. Simmons co-authored with his wife the late Dr. Esther Simmons The Torch of Knowledge: A History of Bowie State University 1865 to 2005.
Dr. George Carlington Simmons has held academic professorships at the State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland and Brockport, and the University of Rochester. He retired from SUNY Brockport in 1985. In his retirement Dr. Simmons served for ten unbroken years (1990-2000) on the NY State Board of Professional Medical Conduct.
As a philantrophist, with a deep interest in community life and the plight of the urban poor, Dr. Simmons was attracted to the membership and work of several social and community organizations including Community Chest, Genesee Valley Group Health Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, YMCA, Gannett Foundation, the Bicentennial Committee of Rochester and Monroe County, and the Courtland Rotary Club. He also served as chairman of the National Council of Urban League Presidents, and as board president of the Urban League of Rochester, the Urban-Suburban Inter-District Transfer Program, and the Baden Street Settlement House. In recognition of more than 35 years of service as board member, on July 28, 1998, the Baden Street Settlement House named its new counseling and support center in his honour.
As an alumnus of USC, Dr. Simmons exhibited fidelity to a fault. In 1985, in response to the urgent need for a specialized reference library at the University of the Southern Caribbean, he established the George Carlington Simmons Collection. From a modest beginning, he grew the collection to approximately eight thousand volumes, on subjects of wide human interest including but not limited to Philosophy, Greek Literature, Psychology, Theology and Biblical Studies, Geography and Cartography, Music and Fine Arts, English Literature, History and Culture. The collection also includes a wide range of dictionaries and rare books including the 1600-year-old Codex Sinaiticus.
As a compatible companion to the collection, Dr. Simmons established and funded the George Carlington Simmons Collection Annual Lecture Series in 2004. Over the years, this series has featured talks from distinguished scholars and thought-leaders of international renown. The series has also attracted as patrons, Caribbean heads of state, prime ministers and senior members of the diplomatic corps. It quickly earned its place as a marquee event on the annual USC calendar.
Apart from donating the collection and organizing and funding the distinguished lecture series, Dr. Simmons’ affection for USC has made him a generous supporter of innumerable other university projects. His means, ideas, good name and influence were freely and passionately given to the steadfast pursuit of a more perfect USC.
In his well-constructed innings, Dr. Simmons also demonstrated the ability to play the role of a supportive partner on the non-striker’s end. USC benefitted greatly from this abetting aptitude when in October of 2003, Caribbean Union College, as USC was then known, suddenly required leadership. He teamed up with his wife the late Dr. Esther Simmons to give their beloved alma mater stabilizing leadership. In this partnership, he assumed the supportive role of interim Assistant to the President with the late Dr. Esther Simmons taking the strike as interim President.
On December 30, 2021, he was called from the crease by a declaration from the Divine Skipper. We will miss the sight and sound of his elegant stroke-play and we will sorrow, but not as those who have no hope. We believe that “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Let us “comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18).
Author: Grace Jacott, Coordinator, ICCTL
On November 30, 2021, thirty proud members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) received congratulatory remarks from the university president, Dr. Colwick Wilson, the provost, Dr. Wanda Chesney and the coordinator of ICCTL, Mrs. Grace Jacott, as they prepared to receive a Certificate of Achievement from USC for successfully completing a short course entitled “Spanish for Police Officers”.
This second cohort in the program advanced in their professional development under the training of Professor Juan Duque who coached them for eight weeks in a “task-based language teaching program”. As a result of the program, these police officers are now equipped to converse in Spanish as they perform tasks such as road blocks, house searches, and interviews at the police station.
In addition to promoting ESL, the ICCTL continues to organize relevant short language courses for personal and professional development of several groups. Considering the demand for Spanish both locally and regionally, upcoming programs include “Spanish for Immigration Officers” and “Spanish for the Clergy/Church Leaders”. The online platform makes these programs accessible regardless of location.
The University of the Southern Caribbean extends sincere congratulations to the Government and people of the Republic of Barbados on this remarkable achievement on its journey of self-determination and ascendant nationhood.
May ever widening paths to peace and prosperity attend the pursuit of your collective aspirations for your new republic. We pray for the wellbeing of all Barbadians as you continue to strive harmoniously for the common good of every citizen.
God’s richest blessings.
Long live the Republic of Barbados.
Authored by: Hayden McKenna
From November 11th to 13th 2021, officials of the Kettering Health Network, based in Ohio USA visited the main campus of University of the Southern Caribbean. The delegation of two, was given a physical tour of the new home of the School of Nursing and Allied Health on the main campus and a virtual tour of USC’s south Trinidad campus.
As guests of the President of USC, the visiting delegation also met with administrators and leaders of the university and participated in cordial discussions about ways in which synergistic partnerships can be developed between both institutions and more broadly among higher education institutions in the global Adventist Education system. Such partnerships, rightly arranged, could serve to promote the ongoing enhancement of the quality of our educational products, the experiences we can afford our students and the services we can offer to our communities. The backdrop of a pandemic, provides a riveting illustration of the universality of some of our most persistent problems and the imperative to leverage ever broadening circles of co-operation.
The visit particularly provided Dr. Wilson – who in a previous cycle of his professional life, worked at the Kettering Health Network – with a precious opportunity to broker another promising institutional friendship for USC.
Though restricted by pandemic conditions, the delegation was also exposed to social and worship experiences at USC before jetting home.
Authored by: Shelley Lyons, Assistant Professor & Publications Officer, USC Faculty Senate
The quest to measure a nation’s President’s initial days in office began rather memorably with US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. He began his presidency during a very challenging time in American history: the Great Depression. He coined the “first 100 days in office”, which he began by launching many critical initiatives to bring relief to America’s devastating economic crisis. This Americanism that has become a ubiquitous metric of the early impact of leaders, has its original association with what for the US – and possibly the world – became presidential greatness.
In July of this year, the Board of Trustees of the University of the Southern Caribbean appointed Dr. Colwick Mervyn Wilson as President of the university. His appointment, like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, comes at a very challenging and memorable time in history: this time, it is during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, just as many presidents after Roosevelt have been assessed for their likelihood of a successful administration, the first 100 days of Dr. Wilson’s presidency are presented here as a means of sharing his initial strategies, that will ultimately become part of his legacy.
Dr. Colwick Wilson was born in Guyana and is a proud alumnus of CUC/USC. He studied Theology as a student at CUC/USC and following a stint of pastoral practice in the Guyana Conference, went on to the US where he completed a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Michigan, a Master of Arts degree in Leadership and Counseling from Eastern Michigan University, and then a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Wilson is married to Dr. Deleise Cole-Wilson and together they have two adult daughters Chidinma Wilson and Corliss Wilson.
His appointment to USC was received with delight and anticipation. Though, it was the first time in the history of the ninety-four-year-old institution, a presidential appointee was interviewed, introduced and installed remotely.
In his position as President Elect, while still in the US, the Guyana American Missionary Endeavour hosted a virtual event, “Let’s Talk with President Wilson” that revealed enthusiastic national, regional and international support for his election. This was on April 24th 2021.
Thereafter, Dr. Wilson engaged in many programmes before physically arriving on the main campus. These included the commissioning and dedication ceremony for the new University Auditorium and home of the School of Nursing and Allied Health on May 26, as well as the eighty-eighth graduation exercises from June 18-20, where he participated as President Elect and guest of honour.
Dr. Wilson officially assumed duty as President on July 1st, 2021.
From his first day in office, Dr. Wilson has kept quite a hectic schedule of internal and external engagements with stakeholders that has included appearances at alumni activities, fundraising ventures, the annual Colloquium and quite a number of introductory meetings and courtesy calls with leaders in denominational, state and civic organizations.
He has resurrected the celebration of Founders’ Day at USC and this year the commemoration was themed “Celebrating our Legacy: Reconnect, Recommit, Reimagine”. This programme was truly a strategic outreach that allowed USC to reconnect with many alumni family, and friends, who have become ambassadors that exemplify USCian men and women, across the globe. Founders’ Day 2021 also saw the launch of Dr. Wilson’s “Get on the Bus Fundraising Campaign”. Drawing on the metaphor of a Caribbean bus-ride outing, the campaign appeals to all supporters of our university to purchase actual tickets and take an excursion with us to a stronger university that is enabled to meaningfully improve value proposition to the church and its young people and to the Caribbean region.
Dr. Wilson has also set his eyes on the historic milestone of USC’s 100th anniversary celebration, due to take place in 2027. That anniversary celebration, he envisions, will be unlike any in USC’s history.
Since Dr. Wilson’s arrived on the main USC campus in Maracas, St. Joseph, Trinidad and Tobago, he has hosted the President’s Convocation. This was held in September and showcased never before seen snippets of USC’s deans’ acting skills and creative prowess. The President’s Convocation was memorably encapsulated “Living Courageously: Faithfully and Fearlessly”. His training in hermeneutics and experience in motivation shone brightly.
Dr. Wilson has met with the Honourable Esmond Forde, Member of Parliament for the constituency of Tunapuna, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives who paid him a courtesy visit on September 30th, 2021. This was an introductory gesture to ensure the partnership and cordial relationship between the university and its neighbouring constituency.
On his 100th day in office, Dr. Wilson met with the USC Faculty Senate, the elected representatives of the faculty, and recounted important milestones.
He has held town meetings with internal stakeholders including deans, chairs, faculty and staff. He says he needed to meet with and listen to his constituents. He has begun an audit of some staff to ascertain the demography of campus personnel under his care. He has met individually with Board of Trustees members, as a means of forging closer ties. He has engaged denominational stakeholders, the local pastors of the South Caribbean Conference and presidents of conferences and missions within the Caribbean Union. This outreach to those in the Caribbean Union is to initiate spiritual support and foster engagements for present and future initiatives. He has also set his radar on the Inter-American Division and the research opportunities and partnerships available through such linkages. He has begun talks with corporate stakeholders, such as Nestle Caribbean and academic institutions such as Howard University with a view to future collaborations. He has also strategically engaged state officials in various governments of CARICOM building-out his field of co-operation and relational resources in the region. The President has commenced alumni outreach and has also sourced sponsors who have already vowed financial support to USC. Additionally, Dr. Wilson has even made overtures to overseas sponsors who may have no specific links to USC, or who may never have donated to the university before.
Dr. Wilson often refers to USC as “Miracle Valley” [his term], where miracles still do take place.
President Wilson sat for an interview in mid-October to discuss his vision and faculty matters and provided some intriguing insights.
His real reason for leaving his distinguished career in the US, to return to his alma mater, is rooted in a history of prioritizing Christian education and wanting to give back to the church and young people. He does admit he was encouraged by some close to him, to apply for the position, with hopes of closer collaboration and lucrative partnerships with sister institutions.
When asked about seeming intentional in engaging all stakeholders, and what he would like to achieve for faculty by the end of his presidency, Dr. Wilson had a bucket list including:
i. Faculty development
ii. Faculty contributing to national and regional discourses, in the media, on topical issues
iii. Faculty earning more attractive salaries with incremental annual wage increases
iv. Faculty participation in governance and operations of the university that is meaningful
v. Health and well-being of faculty and all employees
Note, Dr. Wilson also has great plans for students, alumni, the various extension sites and international stakeholders too.
He shared his views of the COVID-19 era and believes the greatest downside is the loss of life of so many people around the world, as well as the long-term health effects. Sadly, the President has lost many loved ones to the virus.
He sees the greatest blessing of the pandemic as the technological adaptations from which all have been able to benefit.
He admitted that what he most wished he had brought from the US to the campus are resources! Computers, lab equipment etc.
As a leader, he now sees his greatest weakness as his previous experience. That has affected his expectations and assumptions. But, as President of his alma mater, his greatest asset is his resilience. He is not fearful of the challenges and always strives for personal and professional growth.
So far, Dr. Wilson most appreciates USC’s many Christian employees who are committed to SDA education. He describes them as caring, decent and passionate. He loves the prevalence of prayer on the campus and treasures the growth of the institution since his time as a student.
The slower pace of Caribbean life is tremendously appealing to him, as well as the culturally inbred “liming” trait of Trinbagonians.
As the USC President’s first 100 days in office has been shared, we do trust and pray that the inspiring and responsive leadership style evident in President Wilson will continue to advance the Lord’s commission. His early initiatives portend a positive trajectory. Do continue to pray for the growth and success of this President and may God continue to lead him as he leads. Also, do continue to support USC by your donations, attendance or sponsorship.
Authored by: Hayden McKenna
On November 10, 2021, the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) participated in the first symposium on quality in higher education organized by the Inter-American Division (IAD), Department of Education. The symposium, timely themed “Pedagogical Experience in a Pandemic”, drew participants, contributors and presenters primarily from the 13 Adventist universities that serve within the very culturally diverse IAD territory.
The presentations and video submissions focused on a wide range of topics, and included the sharing of interesting research findings germane to the pedagogical innovations higher education has had to grapple with under pandemic conditions in different socio-cultural contexts. Institutional strategies and personal reflections were also shared.
USC Provost, Dr. Wanda Chesney, and Mr. Imo Rameses Bakari, an Instructor in the School of Social Sciences, USC, made presentations at the symposium. Dr. Chesney’s presentation titled “Sustainable Adaptation and Resilience: USC’s Response to the Covid 19 Pandemic”, focussed on USC’s responsiveness to the abrupt imperative to transform all instructional activities at the university to ICT assisted remote learning, following a state mandated cessation of in-person instruction in the entire education system in Trinidad and Tobago. Crediting the pre-pandemic, extant work and capacity building efforts of the School of Distance Education, the Instructional Development and Design Unit and the Institute for Educational Technology, Chesney pointed out that USC turned out to be more prepared for the pivot than it had estimated. Yes, there were logistical and resource challenges to overcome and some of them have proven in time to be quite stubborn, however USC made an imperfect but creditable pivot losing only one week of the teaching semester in March of 2020. The willingness of USC’s teaching faculty to quickly adapt to the hard, sometimes intrusive adjustments to the new normal also was roundly commended by Chesney.
Mr. Bakari’s presentation under the title “My Personal Development” was an inspirational testimony of resilience, optimism and opportunity. Bakari pointed out that the pandemic brought with it opportunities for tremendous growth. Using his own experience, Mr. Bakari testified that he grew exponentially by tapping into a range of webinars and other educational opportunities that were opened up in unprecedented ways during the pandemic. He was even able to earn a Diploma in Global Leadership. In Bakari’s lemons-to-lemonade presentation, he also shared practical tips he has been using to cope with pandemic fatigue. Among them are reading, exercise, gardening and prayer and meditation. Mr. Bakari corroborated Dr. Chesney’s praise for existing structures at USC that swiftly intervened to mitigate the pain of the pivot.
Ms. Del Phillips, an Associate Professor in the School of Business and Entrepreneurship contributed a video submission to the symposium. It summarized her own experiences in confronting the hasty transition from face to face to fully remote teaching and learning. She also shared some of the strategies and tactics she has been employing to keep her students well served and engaged. She has learnt the use of online tools, games and applications to support her efforts at collaborative teaching and learning.
Phillips also shared the ways she has had to re-imagine how she plans and prepares for her classes and the discipline remote teaching requires of the teacher.
Other USC attendees included Dr. Allison Campbell-Sanderson, Chair of Humanities and Mrs. Lois Baynes, Director of the Student Advisement Centre.