Dear USC Community:
We have some important updates to share with you.
Last evening we were informed via a televised news conference involving the Minister of Health and the Minister of national security of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, that Trinidad and Tobago recorded its first COVID-19 case.
In anticipation of this reality the university has put immediate measures in place and wishes to provide you with the following updates:
- Effective tomorrow, our main campus, south campus and Tobago campus will be closed for one week in keeping with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s decision to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
- With immediate effect, all major campus events and activities are cancelled. These include: Olympiad, Blitz, International Students Week and others.
- An isolation unit is being established for our international students living on the dormitories.
- Thorough sanitization measures are being implemented campus-wide and will include the acquisition of hand-sanitizer dispensers.
- All campus meals be served “take away”, thus reducing the number of gatherings on campus.
- A Campus Disaster Management Command Centre has been established at the Campus Security Building and Commanded by the Chief Security Officer, Steve Byng.
- Our health services department will share pertinent COVID-19 information, which will be determined via email and the university’s website.
As we continue to take all the necessary steps and precautions to protect our entire USC community, the long-term closure of our campuses is an active consideration and all the necessary contingency measures are being prepared in case of this eventuality.
As we continue to keep you updated, it is important that you take steps to reduce the transmission to the spreading of COVID-19. Kindly also pay attention to the following:
- Wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth with tissues whenever you sneeze, and discard used tissues in the trash.
- Avoid people who are sick with respiratory symptoms.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces.
- In closing, as a faith-based community we do believe in the power of hope and prayer. Let us continue to seek God in prayer for the protection of all our students, faculty, staff, families, our neighbours and loved ones. We serve an all powerful and mighty God as we expect this trial to pass through the blood of Jesus.
Dr. Hilary Bowman
The School of Sciences, Technology and Allied Health held its annual Science Week 2020 celebrations under the theme: Water and Climate Change: The Great Meltdown, Pollution, Flooding and Heat from 10th to 15 February, 2020. It was an activity packed week that began with the Chapel Launch on Monday 10th, Science Day on Thursday 13th, the first ever Science Week symposium on Friday 14th and it culminated with the Science Week Divine Service on Saturday 15th February at the USC University Church.
The Chapel Launch program saw an appeal to the USC community to carefully consider this important issue not only by the Dean Antwi but also by Dr. Hillary Bowman, President of USC as well as Dr. Wanda Chesney, Acting Provost. The key note speaker for the chapel session was Mr. Kenneth Kerr, a climatologist associated with the Meteorological Services of Trinidad and Tobago also reinforced this call. He spoke extensively about the effects of climate change currently being experienced by Trinidad and Tobago and the role and contribution that the public makes towards this issue. His informative and captivating presentation was well-received by the audience which comprised students, faculty and staff from various departments across the university.
On Thursday 13th February, the Science Complex became a bee-hive of activity with the visits from secondary schools students from across the country who were actively engaged in demonstrations and discussions at the various booths highlighting the theme and hosted by faculty and students of the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemical & Physical Sciences, Family & Consumer Sciences, Computing & Mathematics, Nursing and Occupational Therapy. There were also other interactive booths that were put on by various environmental stakeholders including the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA), Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL), El Socorro Wildlife Conservation Centre and Altech Energy.
The Science Week Symposium held on Friday 14th February saw a joint collaboration of School of Sciences, Technology and Allied Health and the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA). Mr. Wayne O. Williams of CWWA TT Chapter was in high praise for the opportunity to share about his organization and Dr. Quincy Edwards, an environmental researcher who joined the session using zoom was able to share with the young audience his findings with regard to the emergent pollutants such as caffeine in ground and surface water in Barbados. Mrs Anuradha Maharaj-Jagdip examined thoroughly the case of Trinidad and Tobago in water and climate change. After these experts had their say it was then time for young leaders to add their voice and a special panel discussion which included the USC Associated Student Body President, Mr. Jamel Providence, UTT Guild President, Mr. Berald Joefield and Ms. Arielle S. Ramsook, NAPS Girls student and Environmental Officer of the Sixth Formers’ Association Services and moderated by Chyienne Samuel of the GNOSTAI Science club.
The Divine Service Sabbath program was another major highlight of Science Week 2020. There were many creative, engaging and interactive presentations based on the theme: Earth Metamorphosis: Creation, Destruction, and Restoration. From Creation to Restoration segments the students and faculty of the various departments of the School of Sciences, Technology and Allied Health engaged the church audience in deep reflection. There were many references to the natural aspects of Earth’s creation and existence and emphasis of the spiritual journey of man. There were many outstanding musical items performed by the University Church Orchestra under the master directorship of Mr. Kerron Hislop, Chair of the Department of Music. Also, supporting the music ministry was HIS LUV. An engaging story entitled “The CDR Principle” was the Children’s feature that captivated the little ones among the audience. The seriousness of the theme and occasion was brought during the panel discussion which was moderated by Dr. Diadrey-Anne Sealey, an Associate Professor at USC. The panellists included Dr. Joan Latchman, UWI Seismologist, Dr. Jerome Joseph, Associate Professor at UTT and Mr. Peter Missole USC Ministerial student. Pastor Clive Dottin was the main speaker and expounded on the topic in his unique style and charisma whilst University Church Pastor, Terry John closed the afternoon with a solemn prayer for Restoration. Indeed it was a fitting end to Science Week 2020 and we look forward to 2020!
The School of Theology and Religion (The STAR), along with the Administration of the University of the Southern Caribbean in partnership with the North American Alumni Association would like to thank all sponsors and participants for the successful execution of the recent 7th Annual Harold Baptiste Lecture Series in Pastoral Ministry and Leadership.
The topic, Ellen G. White, the Prophet: Her Legitimacy, Relevancy, and Legacy, was ably presented by Dr. Abner Hernandez, assistant professor of Adventist Studies at Andrews University, and well-received by over 150 attendees. Former President of USC ably coordinated the programme. Special guests in attendance were the principal and students of the St. Andrew’s Theological College of the Presbyterian Church.
Special thanks go out to the North American Alumni Association, along with Shirley Baptiste for their faithful support of this yearly programme in honor and memory of the late, Pastor Harold Baptiste, who gave unflinching service to the Church at all levels of leadership for a lifetime.
To view the Lecture, please connect with the following link: https://youtu.be/RjMNQICAEBQ
To view the Sabbath Service, please connect with the following link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5dDTFfJ4xl0
Please view photos of the HBL event: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ulTKrwoeA6u0ntKK_7y5RI4gG0NaSaaA
USC came alive on the evening of Saturday 1st February 2020 with the reintroduction of the USC mUSiC Choral Festival. This musical extravaganza is a key fixture on the university’s calendar and was established by the university’s music department under the directorship of Mr. Kerron Hislop to promote sacred/gospel choral music in Trinidad and Tobago and the region. Several community choirs, school choirs, university choirs and church choirs were given the opportunity to participate.
Prior to the festival, choirs were required to submit an audition video for consideration and the top five submissions in the Open class and top three in the Junior class were selected to participate live at the festival before an esteemed panel of international judges – Dr. Ariel Quintana (Chief Judge) – Director of Choral Activities at La Sierra University; Dr. Roger Henry – Assistant Professor of Music and Programme Leader at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and Artistic Director and Conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago; Mrs. LuLu Mupfumbu – Choir Director, Takoma Academy Chorale and Camerata; and Mr. Boyd Gibson – String and Orchestral Studies Director, USC mUSiC and director of the University Singers, University of the Southern Caribbean.
Participants in the open class category included the Tacarigua SDA Choir, Praisetissimo, the Point Fortin Community Chorale, HIS LUV (Heavenly Inspired Singers Lifting Up Voices) and the Barataria Youth Choir. In the junior class, the Sangre Chiquito Voices, Sangre Grande SDA Church Adventurer Club and the Maracas SDA Primary School Choir presented.
At the conclusion of this well-executed and captivating festival, HIS LUV copped the open class title with their exhilarating and creative performance of “Wade in the Water”; while the Maracas SDA Primary School Choir captured the junior class title with their beautiful rendition of John Rutter’s ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You”.
A greatly anticipated highlight of Saturday night’s live event was the performance of the Takoma Academy Chorale and Camerata; a 50 plus strong choir of young men and women between the ages of 13 and 18 based in Maryland, United States and led by Mrs. LuLu Mupfumbu. They did not disappoint as they delivered a sensational mini-concert performance which demonstrated why they are an award-winning ensemble. For five days, USC had the privilege of hosting this gifted group which captivated its audiences with their featured performances at both the USC mUSiC Choral Festival and the Gospel Music Awards of Trinidad and Tobago (GMATT).
The weekend’s musical achievements culminated on Sunday 2nd February, 2020 at the 3rd Annual Gospel Music Awards of Trinidad and Tobago (GMATT) as USC’s University Choir & Orchestra (UCO) was recognized as “Choir of the Year”.
Other highlights of the Choral Festival weekend included the inaugural Choral Vespers held on the evening of Friday January 31st which featured inspirational presentations by USC mUSiC’s vocal ensembles – the University Singers, the Women’s Chorus and the University Choir and Orchestra (UCO). A sensational performance of Mack Wilberg’s “Come Thou Fount” featuring the combination of UCO and the Takoma Academy Chorale & Camerata was the highlight of a blessed and wonderful evening. On Sunday February 2nd, conductors, choir members and observers were given an opportunity to participate in a choral workshop facilitated by the four festival judges/clinicians as they imparted a wealth of experience to all those who attended.
Music remains a key component of the USC experience and the University will continue to treat it as an integral part of the student experience.
Helping people to improve their quality of life remain critical to continued development and advancement at local, regional, and international levels. Such an initiative is an essential component in promoting health and wellness within business and faith-based organizations, educational institutions, healthcare settings, and the public sector. This of course can more than likely enhance productivity levels, decrease absenteeism, aid in stress management, reduce the potential risk for disease, prevent premature mortality, assist in building sustainable communities, and also contribute to economic growth. Research conducted provide compelling evidence that improvement in dietary practices, physical activity habits, mental health and trust in divine power can be beneficial to individuals. Therefore, a holistic approach to health brings rewards.
More importantly, the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) Health and Wellness Committee sponsored the USC Health and Wellness Walkathon, Sunday, January 19, 2020, for faculty, staff, students, and community residents. This event was the launch for the USC Health and Wellness Programme scheduled to begin on Monday, January 20, 2020. The walkathon took place from the South Caribbean Conference of SDA, Deane Street, St. Augustine to USC’s Main Campus, Royal Road, Maracas Valley, St. Joseph. A total of approximately, five (5) miles. Prior to the start of the event, a warm-up exercise session was conducted by the Personal Fitness Coach. There were more than one hundred (100) participants which also included our colleagues from the South Caribbean Conference of SDA and the Caribbean Union Conference of SDA, and we were accompanied by the USC Security Officers, Police Officers from the St. Joseph Police Station, and Avatar Ambulance Services. There were no incidents or injuries reported during or after the event. Each participant was a winner and receive a medal at the end of the walk. The Personal Fitness Coach conducted an aerobics burn-out session following the walkathon for participants, and also others who did not join the walk. Overall, we are thankful to God for beautiful weather conditions, and a safe and successful event.
On October 1st, 2019, The University of the Southern Caribbean hosted a Language and Communication Day, under the auspices of the School of Education and Humanities. The day was envisioned as a multifaceted day, dedicated to promoting the role and significance of languages and communication in today’s world to our faculty, staff and student body; as well as to secondary school teachers and students from invited schools. One of the goals of the Language Day was also to expose participants to the many benefits of speaking a foreign language, as well as to some aspects of culture and cuisine of non- English speaking countries in our region.
As such, we were privileged to see attendance by representatives from seven Embassies: including Ambassadors, Embassy secretaries, and Charges d’Affaires. The countries represented were Brazil, Chile, Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, and France. The Opening Ceremony and Plenary Session provided an enlightening experience for the close to three hundred students from seven secondary schools who were present, as they were exposed to the national anthems of the seven countries; as well as greetings and speeches from the diplomats. Many of the addresses highlighted the importance of learning foreign languages: particularly Spanish.
Several of the esteemed Administrators of the University were in attendance at the Opening Ceremony and Plenary Session: in the persons of Dr. Hilary Bowman, University President; Dr. Leon Wilson, University Provost; Dr. Loverne Jacobs-Browne, Dean of the School of Education and Humanities; and Mrs. Rachel Sealy, University Chaplain.
During the second plenary session which focused on languages in Caribbean communities, guests and students were addressed by two of USC’s lecturers: Dr. Fiona Ann Rajkumar, and Dr. Terencia Joseph. They highlighted the role of language in identity among the twentieth century Chinese community in Trinidad, and the attitude of governmental authorities towards the Kweyol language in St. Lucia from the late nineteenth into the twentieth century.
Several of the Embassies invited also displayed and promoted aspects of their respective countries in our Embassy Pavilion. During the lunch break, the secondary school students were able to visit the various country booths, partake of the Latin and French Caribbean food items on sale, as well as participate in games that allowed them to experience the fun-filled aspects of learning a foreign language.
During the second part of the day; and as part of the multifaceted experience, the cultural programme saw the participation of students from the University, who are learning Spanish and French; as well as students from Spanish, French and Portuguese speaking countries, who are learning English as a Second Language at The University of the Southern Caribbean.
On Monday 11th November, 2019 the 17th National Youth Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago was held at Tower D, Waterfront Complex. It began at 10:00am. This event gave young people from across the country the opportunity to explore an important issue affecting the nation, and serve, for a day, as members of the House of Representatives in various capacities.
Students from various secondary schools, youth organizations and tertiary institutions participated in the debate.
The USC representative for the debate was David Gomez, a second-year Social Studies major. David attended weeks of training in oratory and debating skills, dress and etiquette, and the use of parliamentary Standing Orders.
His portfolio for debate day was on the government bench as Minister of Finance and Member for Diego Martin North East. This year’s motion was the compelling debate “Should parents be held accountable for their children’s social media activities?” This government motion, presented by the Minister of Public Administration, sought to bring legislation to ensure parents’ liability for their children’s inappropriate use of social media platforms.
David, in his contribution to the debate, gave his own experience of being cyberbullied. He also encouraged the opposition bench to take note of the monies being budgeted in the 2019/2020 fiscal year for training in ICT for all citizens, thus ensuring that parents can become knowledgeable and better monitor their children’s’ social media activities and behaviour.
After the debate, a cocktail was held where the youth debaters were able to meet with the President and Vice-President of the Senate, the Honourable Christine Kangaloo and the Honourable Nigel De Freitas, as well as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honourable Brigid Annisette-George.
USC thanks the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for organizing this event, as well as David Gomez for serving as USC’s representative.
The Public Service Academy under the Ministry of Public Administration, in conjunction with the University of the Southern Caribbean, has launched a two-day communications training workshop themed: Strategic Communications for Engaging Citizens Professional. The workshop is tailored to meet the needs of the important cadre of communications specialists within the various government ministries throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
The first round of the workshop was held on September 25th and 26th 2019, at the Ministry of Public Administration, National Library Building in Port-of-Spain. The training was facilitated by a team of professionals, including the experienced and decorated Lt. Col. (retired) Sharon Alfonso-Farrell, who is the highest-ever-ranking woman in the TT military. She is now Chief Protocol and Information Officer of the Caribbean Court of Justice. Her training segments focused insightfully on “Communication in the Public Sector” “Event Planning and Protocol” and “Communication During a Crisis”. Her insights and experiential references redounded to the benefit of all in attendance, based on the questions posed by participants.
The three other presenters are all experienced members of the university community.
Mr. Josh Rudder, the Coordinator of the Integrated Marketing and Communications department at USC, delved into his corporate experience and personal training to address the topics of “Social Media Management” “Corporate Branding and Media Management” and “Communications and the Law”. These were critical themes for the information brokers who participated in the workshop.
Mrs. Sherri-Lyn Legall, Associate Professor in the School of Business, Entrepreneurship and Continuing/Professional Studies, was well received as she attempted to remedy the flawed practice of communicators in her session “Presenting with Professionalism”.
The fourth presenter was Ms. Shelley Lyons, Instructor in the School of Education & Humanities, who targeted two specially requested areas of “Business Writes”, which dealt with the common communication formats used by government communicators, as well as the growing threat to individuals, citizens and government in “Managing the Phenomenon of Fake News”.
This workshop was a welcome intervention for the approximately 15 participants and coordinators. Present at the event was also Mrs. Denise Phillip, Director of the Public Service Academy and Mr. Claudelle McKellar, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration. Attendees were given Certificates of Participation.
Soon another batch of government communicators will benefit from this round of training. Both USC and the Public Service Academy are to be commended for partnering on this venture.
In response to the local and regional demand for Occupational Therapists (OT), The University of Southern Caribbean (USC) has become the first and only tertiary level institution in the Caribbean to offer a Master of Science programme in Occupational Therapy. In January, the Digicel Foundation donated US$14,815 to USC to retrofit a training lab for OT students in the programme. The new facility was officially unveiled on September 11 at the Maracas, St. Joseph campus.
The Digicel Foundation Occupational Therapy Simulation & Resource Lab is designed as a demo living space, equipped with specialized equipment to facilitate hands-on practical therapy for persons with disabilities. The Foundation continues to invest millions in programmes and initiatives that advance the lives of persons with disabilities. The partnership with USC promises to provide OT support to special needs schools, with OT masters students claiming practicum hours while delivering a well sought after service to this underserved community.
The Management and faculty of the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) expressed their heartfelt thanks to the Digicel Foundation for the partnership. Sharing her thoughts at the opening ceremony, Dr. Wanda Chesney, Associate Provost of USC, conveyed her thanks and appreciation stating, “The collaborative efforts with the Foundation had only just begun. This initiative will have a far-reaching impact on educators and students focused on working with the special needs community.”
Currently, there is one Occupational Therapist employed in the public school system with only 26 registered occupational therapists, which highlights the need for this specialized profession. Desha Clifford, Chairperson of the Digicel Foundation commented, “This new partnership with the USC’s Occupational Therapy Department further complements the Foundation’s special needs portfolio, making our initiatives even more sustainable. There is a huge gap in affordable therapy-related services for persons with special needs, a gap the Foundation in its way is bridging with the help of all our stakeholders.”
In 2014, the Digicel Foundation implemented a Therapy Based Education Programme in 15 special needs schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The initiative was facilitated by the A&C Foundation, an Irish based therapy organisation, and included specialised equipment for the schools, training and development of personalised educational plans for students and parent engagement strategies to progress learning objectives. The USC partnership also built on this intervention with the placement of three practicum students at special education institutes and two other students who will use recent reports and findings from the Therapy-based Education Programme to inform their research.
The Foundation continues to find innovative strategies and collaborations with public and private sector to support the advancement of persons with special needs through education, sport, therapy and activities that foster inclusion.
The University of the Southern Caribbean (“the USC”) outrightly rejects misleading statements published in an article carried by the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday on Sunday 29th September 2019, captioned, ‘Rough times at USC’. No opportunity was given to the USC for comment and verification before this article was published. The USC takes these allegations very seriously since they go against the principles and core values of our institution. The university has referred this matter to its attorneys for a full response.
The USC will vigorously defend its good name and reputation against any false allegations of fraudulent activity in relation to the fulfilment of its requirements as an accredited institution of higher learning; particularly as it relates to students’ true and accurate academic course participation and examination.
The USC has never, under any circumstance, compromised these standards and obligations for the benefit of any student. The USC categorically and unequivocally denies that it has ever been involved in any aspect of examination fraud. The University holds to the highest values and standards and has strict policies on how it conducts its affairs.
The USC is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for its students and staff. The USC assures all students, faculty, staff, personnel and the public that it takes seriously all complaints and thoroughly investigates them in strict compliance with its administrative and disciplinary procedures, in accordance with good industrial relations practice, sound legal principles and the rules of natural justice.
The USC offers a range of associate, undergraduate and graduate programs through its six schools and more than 40 fields of study. As can be expected from such a large entity, it is not a static organization. With the introduction of different courses and educational objectives as well as a diverse student body and sub-cultures from various groups, different challenges may arise from time-to-time. The USC is committed to meeting them head-on with a proactive and constructive approach for the advancement of tertiary education.