By: Hayden McKenna and Shelley Lyons
The University of the Southern Caribbean deeply mourns the passing of a stalwart supporter of our institution, who in her adult life and fruitful career, was exemplary and consistent in her unalloyed dedication to the cause of Christian education, holistic living, service to others, the love of family and the enabling of righteousness.
Shirley Ann Martinborough was born to Maisey and Gordon Martinborough Snr. in the colony of British Guiana (now the Co-operative Republic of Guyana) on Tuesday, 4th July, 1939.
In 1959, Shirley travelled to Trinidad and Tobago with her brother Gordon Jnr. and her fiancé Roy Israel McGarrell, to study on the campus of Caribbean Union College. This campus was chosen by the indisputable hand of providence to be the storage, which in the fullness of time, would receive the largest deposits of her future professional contributions. At Caribbean Union College, she completed an Associate of Arts Degree in Secretarial Science in 1961.
She returned to British Guiana in 1961 and served as an office secretary at the Guyana Mission of SDA in Georgetown from 1961 to 1963.
On Monday, 25th June, 1962 she married her beloved Roy. This happy union would produce children, Andre (deceased) Fern and Faith-Ann.
From 1963 until 1969, she served as an elementary school teacher at Wismar, Upper Demerara River, and at New Amsterdam, Berbice. Guyana’s national independence in May of 1966 met her as an open-handed patriot serving her country in this noble vocation.
With the introduction of the Bachelor of Theology degree at Caribbean Union College, Shirley’s husband Roy Israel McGarrell enrolled in the first cohort of the programme. Shirley accompanied him to CUC and was asked to serve as the college’s Dean of Women from 1970 to 1972.
The McGarrells returned to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana in 1970 and Shirley McGarrell returned to her former position as an office secretary at the Guyana Mission of Seventh-day Adventists. With the elevation of Pastor Roy McGarrell to the presidency of the Guyana Conference in 1976, Mrs. Shirley McGarrell carried her elegance, grace, and preparedness to the role of first lady and shepherdess of what was then the newest conference in the Caribbean Union, setting the bar very high for all of her successors.
In 1980, amidst a period of great theological turmoil in the global Adventist Church, the McGarrells left Guyana to further their education at Andrews University in Berrien Springs Michigan, USA. There, Shirley completed a Baccalaureate and Master of Arts degree in English, in 1983 and 1985 respectively. On this sojourn at Andrews University, she also had opportunities to use and develop her professional skills. She was privileged to serve in secretarial, tutorial and instructional roles.
In 1988, Mrs. McGarrell returned to Caribbean Union College, where she served as Chairperson of the English Department from 1988 to 1994, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences from 1995 to 1998, Vice President for Academic Administration from 1998 to 2001, Interim President from January 2002 to December 2002, Vice President for Academic Administration from 2003 to 2005 (during which time Caribbean Union College began its transition to university status), and finally as Vice President for General Administration from 2005 until her retirement in 2011. While ascending a creditable flight of accomplishments at CUC/USC, Mrs. McGarrell successfully completed a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Curriculum & Instruction, with an Advanced Cognate in English, in 2000.
Dr. McGarrell’s achievements as a faculty member and administrator at CUC/USC are nothing short of inspiring. They include:
- Establishing Alpha Mu Gamma, the first international chapter of Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honor Society), which she initiated and launched on the island of Trinidad and Tobago.
- Founding the first Writing Center on the campus of Caribbean Union College.
- Being the first woman to serve as Dean, Vice President for Academic Administration, Vice President for General Administration, and (Interim) President.
- Ushering in the early stages of the transition from CUC to USC, during her interim Presidency.
- Setting up various committees to continue the efforts towards the transition of CUC from college to university.
- Chairing the committee that created the present USC School Song and making a significant contribution to the lyrics.
- Teaching: Freshman Composition, Foundations of Curriculum Studies, Linguistics, Literature of the English Bible, Milton, Research Methods, and Thesis Preparation courses and more.
- Serving on and participating in numerous academic committees, accreditation site visits, and boards.
- Developing several short-term projects and successfully completing the refurbishing of the previous auditorium, extending the facilities of the Music room and the Theology Department, and constructing a new Physics laboratory.
- Constituting the Land Committee which developed the proposed layouts for land use and new dormitories on the campus.
- Recognizing the need to make CUC relevant with regard to new teaching, ensuring a new website was developed, with improved Internet access.
For these accomplishments and much more, Dr. Shirley McGarrell has received recognition for outstanding service, which include:
- Being named in Andrews University’s 100 Women of the Century in 2002.
- Having the USC campus wide Future Leaders’ Debate Competition being named in her honour, in 2014 and,
- A Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of the Southern Caribbean on the occasion of its 94th anniversary in 2021.
As a prolific writer, Dr. Shirley McGarrell has authored eight books in the scholarly, devotional, literary and experiential genres including Mouthfuls of Joy for Today, Rivulets of Patience for Today, Capsules of Time for Today, Debate on the Teaching of Literature: A Caribbean Viewpoint, and Awesome God—Little Miss Dolly. Her ruminations also appear in magazines and journals such as the Journal of Adventist Education, Tertiary Thoughts, Christ in the Classroom, and Shepherdess International. Perhaps her greatest labour of love as a writer was her 2010 publication sympathetically titled Living With A Man Named Roy: A Legacy of Love.
Dr. McGarrell was an extraordinary and compassionate teacher and life-model to her students and a standard-bearer to her colleagues. Her interactions with all inevitably left an ineradicable mark. But, to her students, especially her female students, she exemplified refinement and style, always dainty, but detailed and determined. As a lecturer, there was always a spiritual lesson in every class she taught, which has inspired many of her own students, now teachers, to craft their lessons similarly. One student, who is now a faculty member here at USC credits Dr. McGarrell with launching her teaching career and also distinctly remembers Dr. McGarrell asking her to share with her the one wedding present she, the student, really wanted, but did not receive. Of course, Dr. McGarrell bought that wedding gift for her then appreciative student.
Some students, now faculty members here at USC recall she always used green ink to mark their papers, for reasons which they can still only speculate. One of her students tells of a time when, during a lengthy three hour Humanities exam, she stopped the students, sent them to the cafeteria to have dinner, and then allowed them to return to complete their examination. Many of those students were struggling financially and have never forgotten that random act of kindness.
One evening, years ago, the lights went out on campus, just as class was about to start. Students were naturally eager for class to be dismissed. In those days, there was no back-up generator. Dr. Mac, as she was fondly called, told her students to hold on. She went to her office, retrieved a candle, brought it back to class, lit it and taught her class, much to her students’ surprise and amusement.
At other times Dr. Mac would take small groups of students to her home, to have class. Her infectious laughter sometimes surprised her students. And, students recount that she would always pray with them, whenever they visited her office. It was also the stubborn habit of Dr. Mac to end meetings of faculty and staff with everyone holding hands and singing “Bind Us Together” before the closing prayer. For colleagues and students, she modeled Christianity, with finesse, sprinkled with grace and humour. Her academic and administrative prowess, years of committed service, fidelity to duty and exemplary service will never be forgotten.
The USC board of trustees, administrators, faculty members, staff, students and alumni of the join in the celebration of the life and work of the late Dr. Shirley Ann McGarrell.
We express our heartfelt condolences to her husband Dr. Roy Israel McGarrell; their children, Fern Hudson and Faith Ann McGarrell; their son-in-law, Carl Hudson; their daughter-in-law, Grace McGarrell; grandchildren, Safiya Hudson, Stephen Hudson, Marcello McGarrell and Gabrielle McGarrell; her sister Mrs. Dolly Teixeira and brother-in-law Mr. Clement Teixeira, her sister-in-law Mrs. Waveney Martinborough and a host of cousins, nephews and nieces, personal and family friends.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed arethe dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Revelation 14:13.
Author: Trea Johnson
Bright smiles and cheerful singing filled the atmosphere at the Guyana Satellite Site as University President, Dr. Colwick Wilson, made his first visit to the site. Dr. Wilson was accompanied by the Vice President, Student Services and Enrollment Management, Ps. Onesi Lafleur, and Interim Dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship, Ms. Sherri-Lyn Legall. This inaugural visit is a big deal as the president and his able team placed much emphasis on the university’s ‘Strategic Plan – SP 100’ and his ‘One USC’ vision.
The university’s strategic plan will be executed over the next five years as USC works towards its centennial year. Dr. Wilson’s ‘One USC’ vision encourages oneness and unity across the sites and campuses. It encourages a greater sense and feeling of belonging especially at the satellite sites and extension campuses, so whether one is in Guyana or St. Lucia, or even South Trinidad, we are ‘One USC’. The President, in his address to students, emphasised the importance of being of exemplary quality and character as they transition through life. His intention is that the seeds planted in each student prepare them not just for four years, but it exceeds that by even forty.
USC Guyana has more than three hundred (300) students enrolled at the site and along with the staff, they are excited to propel Dr. WIlson’s ‘One USC’ vision and ‘Strategic Plan’. The week-long visit includes meetings with the students, Ministers of Government, and other key stakeholders of the institution. The week commenced with a focus group chaired by Ms. Sherri-Lyn Legall which engaged students, alumni, friends, and other stakeholders; its purpose, to enhance the University’s strategic plan. The vision ‘One USC’ and strategic plan ‘SP 100’ seeks to encourage partnering with each other to solve issues in society. It places much emphasis on collaboration and ultimately taking the University ‘Beyond Excellence’.
The team has since made notable strides as they formed many necessary partnerships. After three days and several successful meetings and collaborations, the team is charged with information necessary for ensuring a successful USC. The team has since met with the President of Guyana, His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Irfraan Ali, Hon. Minister Savitri Sonya Parag, Guyana’s Minister of Public Service, Professor Jacob Opadeyi, Director, Guyana Online Academy of Learning, Dr. Deborah Jack, Director, National Accreditation Council, The Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists administrators, Hon. Priya Manickchand, Minister of Education, Hon. Kwame McCoy, Minister within the Office of Prime Minister and Hon. Nigel Dharamlall, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development. With many more meetings and collaborations ahead, God’s wisdom and guidance are continually sought.
Authored by: Mr. Hayden McKenna, University Writer/Editor
On March 05, 2022 the University of the Southern Caribbean officially launched its participation in the celebration of the centennial year of the Inter-American Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (IAD). The launch took the form of a Sabbath Service at the Caring University Church. Titled “Celebrating Our Heritage” the narrative of the worship service succeeded in connecting the celebration of the IAD’s centennial with USC’s almost ninety-five-year-old institutional existence as a beneficiary of and a benefactor to the organized work of the church in the circum-Caribbean and beyond.
In the pulpit, Dr. Kern Tobias, President of the Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist (CARU) and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the USC, drew upon the Aristotelian heuristic of the rhetorical triangle – logos, ethos and pathos – to affirm the positive, albeit sometimes imperfect achievements of USC and by extension the IAD. Dr. Tobias enjoined, that our celebrations must never become blind to the centrality of Christ – the Living Word and the Bible His written word as the veritable core of our heritage.
The Inter American Division is one of the thirteen divisions of the world Adventist Church and one of three in the Western Hemisphere. Headquartered in Miami Florida, USA, the IAD’s geographical territory comprises of Mexico in North America, all of the countries of Central America, the islands of the Caribbean and the five northern-most countries of South America.The IAD is subdivided into twenty-four unions which in turn are comprised of conferences, missions, regions and churches in an elegant system of devolution.
The need to organize the work of the church in the circum-Caribbean during the late 19th century into the first two decades of the 20th, saw many structural experiments being tried in this vast, culturally diverse, in some places geographically dis-contiguous part of the Americas. A pattern of adventures, misadventures and re-adventures especially after 1906, saw territorial integrations and disintegrations on the redoubtably complicated grounds of cultural and linguistic diversity, the personal preferences of leaders, national and colonial borders, underdeveloped systems of communication and transportation and the wartime challenges between 1914 and 1918. In spite of it all, God’s work grew and the thoughtful creation of solid, lasting organizational arrangements was obliged by this growth. In May of 1922, the Inter American Division was established in response to the need for better organization of the work.
This year, the IAD celebrates its centennial year under the theme Celebrating His Providence and Affirming our Values. Churches like the Caring University Church, conferences and missions like the six conferences and four missions of the Caribbean Union Conference (CARU), unions like the CARU and institutions such as the University of the Southern Caribbean join in the year-long celebration of this important milestone of our church in this part of the world.
Our university – one of the fourteen universities in the IAD – has had a rich exchange of mutual benefit with our division. Over the ninety-four year of our existence, we have and continue to receive resource endowments and institutional support from the IAD. In return, among the finest human talent that has propelled the success of the church in this division, are proud alumni of our university. USC and the IAD have even at separate times shared two presidents, in the distinguished persons of Bender L. Archbold and George W. Brown. Our missions, successes and destinies are unimpeachably co-mingled.
The fundamental business of our university is education. As such, our contribution to the observance of the IAD centennial year will focus on the production and sharing of educational content that will examine our church, its mission and its work in the circum-Caribbean and the impact of our division and its people on the world church and the world beyond the church. A calendar of our major IAD centennial events will be shared in the coming weeks. Prepare yourself to participate and be edified. May God continue to bless His church in the Inter-American Division and in the world.
Authored by: Mr. Hayden McKenna, University Writer/Editor
With the public health measures to mitigate the spread of COVID 19 being relaxed by many national governments and with the nascent signs that the pandemic might be headed to epidemiological remission, the leadership of the USC has begun to prepare for what undoubtedly will be a thoughtful, well-sequenced reboot of the in-person university. Cognizant that a successful reboot requires more, much more than an artless regression to pre-pandemic transactions, the President’s Cabinet participated in a special two-day leadership retreat on March 02 and 03, 2022. The retreat was held at La Soledad Estate, deep in the Maracas Valley. The theme of the retreat was “Policies, Processes and OUTCOMES: An Executive Mind-set”. USC President Dr. Colwick Wilson explained, that the major idea behind the retreat, was for university leadership to get a clear sense of the university’s existing policy framework, to try to map out processes with measurable outcomes that would be pursued with a mind-set oriented to execution and results.
The impressive battery of presenters, included professionals, carefully drawn from the global Adventist higher education and health sectors, the Caribbean regional tertiary education sector and corporate Trinidad and Tobago. The six featured presenters and their presentations in the order they appeared were as follows:
Dr. John McVay, President
Walla Walla University, USA
Presentation title: “The Executive Mind-set in Times of Stress.”
Dr. Prudence Pollard, Vice-President
Quality Assurance, Research, and Faculty Development, Oakwood University, USA
Presentation title: “Executive Mind-set: View of Self & Others.”
Dr. Haldane Davies
Vice President for Business Development and Innovation
University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas Campus
Presentation title: “Executive Mind-set: Framing the Effective President’s Cabinet.”
Mrs. Shirley Lake-King
Vice President of Administration and Finance
University of the Virgin Islands
Presentation title: “Collaborating as Essential Partners.”
Mr. Conrad Enill
The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago
Presentation title: “Disruption –The New Normal.”
Mr. Carlyle Walton
Adventist Health Policy Association
Presentation title: “So you want to be a Leader!”
The devotional speaker for both days was Dr. Roy Adams, the Grenadian born alumnus of Caribbean Union College (now the USC), who has given decades of distinguished service to the global Adventist Church in the roles of pastor, theologian, scholar, columnist, associate editor, author and administrator.
These dynamic presentations were punctuated by opportunities for sharing, reflection, team building, case study analysis and strategy refinement. The university’s executive leadership also benefitted from affirmations from the President of the Caribbean Union Conference and Chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, Dr. Kern Tobias and from the President of the South Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Leslie Moses, who both made cameos as special guests.
Commenting on what was accomplished at the retreat, President Wilson said that it was “an inspirational and informative time for the executive team. We were challenged and encouraged to consider the merits of adopting a high level of functioning via the executive mind-set. It was a time of refreshing, a time of renewal, a time that allowed us to cast a vision that will lead us into our centennial celebration.”
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.
The University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) is saddened by the recent passing of its alumnus, Pastor Livingstone Aaron. We join with several others in expressing our deepest condolences to his wife Cynthia (also a graduate of CUC/USC), his close relatives, friends and ministerial colleagues.
According to a release by the Caribbean Union Conference (CARU), at the time of his sudden passing, Pastor Aaron was serving as pastor of the Stroudsburg district, which includes the Stroudsburg, Pocono Grace, and Mount Pocono Haitian churches in the Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in the United States.
Prior to migrating to the US in 2013, Pastor Aaron served as the Director of the Caribbean Union Revolving Fund (CURF) and is credited as an architect of its growth to redoubtable viability. Before his elevation to that directorship at the CARU, Pastor Aaron, a native of Antigua and Barbuda and a member of a prominent Adventist family there, served with distinction in pastoral ministry in the North Caribbean Conference.
Pastor Aaron’s formal preparation for ministry began at Caribbean Union College (now USC) in the second half of the 1970s. Among his contemporaries at CUC, was Dr. Colwick Wilson, the current President of USC. Dr. Wilson remembers his college-mate as “a diligent worker, a creative mind, a dedicated student… He was a friend of all. He consistently built relationships with others. He was passionate. He was clearly a man ahead of his time.”
Livingstone Aaron graduated as a member of the Class of 1982 with a Bachelor of Theology degree. With an unabated passion for ministerial preparation, he went on to Andrews University, Michigan, USA and there earned a Master Divinity degree in 1985. In 1990, he received the sacred rite of ordination.
Pastor Livingstone Aaron, in his life and career, modelled the USCian ethic and was an extraordinary servant of God to humanity. He had also grown accustomed to hearing and submitting to the voice of his Heavenly Father. That voice he will hear again on that great getting-up morning, and by the force of habit, he will respond in obedience and with victory over the sting of death. Let us all be comforted by this blessed hope.
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.
Excellence Express awaits!
From Caribbean Training College to University of the Southern Caribbean, our voice in the valley has strongly echoed as we have grown in size, status and service to society. Throughout the years, though change has been a constant, we have remained steadfast in the quest for institutional progress and innovation.
As USC remains dedicated to the holistic development of the heads, hearts and hands of our USCian men and women we invite you Get on the Bus as we raise TTD$3.4M for our priority projects:
- Construction of the University Church
- Student Scholarships
- Furnishing of the Timothy Greaves Residence Hall
- Furnishing of the newly constructed School of Nursing and Allied Health
Visit usc.edu.tt/getonthebus to book your seat on Excellence Express today – tickets start at USD$600.00!
We call on your passionate generosity to secure the continuation of our celebrated legacy of providing transformative education on pillars of Intellectual Curiosity, Cultural Diversity, Moral Integrity and Spiritual Nurture.
With your support today, our future alumni will undoubtedly return the favor to the USCians of tomorrow!
Join us on Sunday, November, 28, 2021 at 5:00pm for the official launch of the Get on the Bus Fundraising Campaign! Join the stream on YouTube and Facebook as we depart on our journey Beyond the horizon of Excellence!
On Wednesday, October 20, 2021 the USC Administration and USC South Campus Teams paid a courtesy visit to His Worship The Mayor Alderman Junia Regrello at the San Fernando City Hall.
Present were President of the University of the Southern Caribbean, Dr. Colwick Wilson; Dr. Wanda Chesney, Provost, and Ms. Ebony Burton, Director of the USC South Campus.
This visit saw the formal introduction of Dr. Colwick Wilson as President of the University of the Southern Caribbean to Mayor Regrello.
The University of the Southern Caribbean remains dedicated to its long standing record of service to the city of San Fernando and looks forward to continued collaboration.