Bahamas Information Services Updates
Dame Ivy Dumont Receives Honourary LLB from UWI
Nov 12, 2007 - 11:52:12 AM

Former Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont delivers the graduation address and encourages graduates to strive for excellence at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus graduation ceremony on Saturday, November 10. (BIS Photo)

              ADDRESS TO         


           AWARD OF

                                       HONORARY DOCTOR OF LAWS                                      


  SATURDAY, NOVEMBER, 10, 2007 AT 5:30 P.M.

Madam Chief Justice, The Honourable Zaila McCalla and Mr. McCalla


Honourable Chancellor, Council and Senate of the University of the West Indies;


Honourable Prime Ministers and other Cabinet Ministers of Caribbean Governments;


Honourable Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of International Agencies accredited to CARICOM Nations;


Leaders of the Private Sector and other Stakeholders in the University;


Graduates of the Faculties of Social Sciences and Medical Sciences;


Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:


The honour I have been granted to respond on behalf of my colleague graduands, places a very close second to having been selected for the award itself.   I accept with thanks.  


Few are they who have been singled out by the University to be awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees, and we---

     Dr. G. Raymond Chang, Professor Franklin Knight, Father Gregory Ramkissoon, and   I acknowledge, with humility, yet with much pride, this esteemed recognition by our own University of the West Indies.   Our gratitude flows to all who were instrumental in the decision to allow us into so elite a fraternity.


May I take this opportunity, also, to thank and commend the Registrar and his Assistants for their many kindnesses prior to and since our arrival in Jamaica two days ago; and to acknowledge the presence of our families,     friends and associates who have come to bear witness to this historic event.  Further, I take the liberty to express appreciation for their presence to my Prime Minister and Members of his Cabinet, my children, my siblings, and my several blood and other nieces and nephews, some of whom are UWI graduates.   


Former Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont, centre, is pictured with His Excellency Sir Kenneth Hall, Governor General of Jamaica, left, and Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham at a University of the West Indies Reception following its conferring of an honourary Doctor of Laws degree (LLB) on Dame Ivy at the University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, November 10. (BIS Photo)

As a former Minister of Education, it was my privilege to visit Jamaica and the University several times over a period of six years.   Happily, some of the friendships formed during the 1990s have endured into the 2000s, and it is my pleasure to greet you once again.  


Positioned in Council meetings, as I used to be, between Antigua on my left and Barbados on my right, both quite forceful voices during deliberations, I found it useful to pay close attention to the Chair, then occupied by retired Chancellor, Sir Shridat Ramphal.   It was amazing, and instructive, how well he understood the delegates’ comments, some of which, when he had summarized them, must have surprised even the speakers.   I admired his gift for synthesizing the varied sounds, sometimes quite dissonant, and producing a harmonious result.  His masterful chairmanship was an inspiration to me to go and do likewise.


The new Chancellor, I am sure, is no less able.   Indeed, in capturing Sir George Alleyne, the University demonstrated to the world the capacity of our Region to select from among its own sons the quality of leader we produce, and deserve, to head our premier educational institution.  I do not doubt the daughters’ day will duly dawn.


I must share with you, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, a vignette from the history of Sir George and me.   Attending a Meeting of the Pan American Health Organization in 1994, as Minister of Health, I was part of the Caribbean delegations that floated on a pride-induced high when Professor, the Honourable Sir George Alleyne, son of Barbados, graduate of UWI, medical doctor, linguist, and gentle-man, was elected, by acclamation, to head PAHO, one of the oldest and most prestigious international agencies in the world.


Prime Minster the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, from left, is pictured with His Excellency Sir Kenneth Hall, Governor General of Jamaica and Lady Hall prior to the start of the University of the West Indies Mona Campus graduation ceremony on Saturday, November 10. (BIS Photo)

As one of the escorts selected to accompany the new Director General into the auditorium, to a prolonged standing ovation, I confess to appreciating for the first time the true meaning of Regional Identity.    You would be pleased to know that while the then Minister of Health for Barbados, Miss Elizabeth Thompson, congratulated Sir George on behalf of Barbados and the Region, the others of us were not idle: We managed to destroy a whole box of facial tissues!    


We admired Sir George for the dignity, grace, humility, and calm confidence he displayed then; and, thereafter, for the expert manner in which he discharged his duties.   


I, for one, have been inspired by his genuine interest in the health, education and welfare of people, generally, and of Caribbean people in particular.


A PROUD MOMENT: Pictured from left, University of the West Indies Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal Gordon Shirley, UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne, former Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont and UWI Vice Chancellor Professor E. Nigel Harris at a UWI reception following its conferring of an honourary Doctor of Laws degree (LLB) on Dame Ivy at the University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, November 10. (BIS Photo)

During my most recent work experience, I was privileged to meet another Caribbean giant whom I greatly admire: He is Jamaica’s recently-retired Governor-General, Sir Howard Cooke. At the age of 90, his bearing commanded the attention of any room he entered, and his lucidity and clarity of expression defied anyone, not knowing his age, to place it at a day over 65.    A veritable walking history of the West Indies, Sir Howard was an inspiration to me, and our other colleagues, to appreciate the beauty and majesty of our environment, the uniqueness of the Caribbean Region and its peoples, and the ability to enjoy life to its fullest.


So, Graduates, you may well ask: What do the three men you have identified have to do with me, as I am about to shake the dust off my feet when I leave the gates of UWI?    And if you expect me to spell out their impact on your lives, you will surely be disappointed.    For the most part,  you have spent   20-30 years listening to various ones urge upon you what they believe should be your reason for being; why you have to be motivated to a certain course of action; and what horrors will befall you, should you not be persuaded to their points of view.   I shall not join them.


 What I will tell you are two simple statements, both of which you will know to be true:


Firstly:  Only you can motivate you for, unlike an out-board motor-boat, your motor is inside; you have to turn on your own engine, and drive yourself to your selected destination.


Secondly: Sensible people are inspired by the abilities, attitudes, behaviours and accomplishments of those they esteem; and they seek to emulate them.


Therefore, had I the opportunity of a new, young UWI graduate, I would identify those persons I hold in high regard---and they need not be Sirs or even well- educated people---articulate   the ways in which I have been inspired by them,   and then seek to attain to their standards of knowledge, skill, attitude, manners, bearing, or professional competence.  


Distinguished Guests of the University:


Please join me in congratulating the 2007 graduates of the Faculties of Social Sciences and Medical Sciences of the University of the West Indies.


Please, also, help me express heartfelt appreciation to the Chancellor, Council and Senate of the University on behalf of Dr. Chang, Professor Knight, Father Ramkissoon and myself, for welcoming us today into the inner circle of the University.


May God’s blessings rest upon this place and all who labour herein.

A TEACHER WHO CAN AND DOES: University of the West Indies Public Orator Professor Brian Meeks heralds Dame Ivy Dumont as “a teacher who can and does” as Dame Ivy looks on prior to be being presented an honourary Doctor of Laws degree (LLB) from the University on Saturday, November 10. (BIS Photo)

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