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7 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards to Outstanding Academic and Senior Administrative Staff

For Release Upon Receipt - Thursday, October 15, 2015

VC_awards_Logo-10-15-2015.jpgIn his first year as host of the annual Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles presented a total of seven awards to academic and senior administrative staff members of The University of the West Indies (The UWI). The ceremony was held on October 15, at the Cave Hill Campus’ Roy Marshall Teaching Complex.

A University tradition for more than 20 years, the awards recognise and reward outstanding performance in Teaching, Research Accomplishments, Service to University Community, Contributions to Public Service, and All-round Excellence in a combination of two or more of the four core areas. In the 2012 to 2013 academic year, a departmental award was added to recognise quality, service and operational excellence.

The 2015 honourees include: Professor Hariharan Seetharaman of the Department of Clinical Surgical Sciences at the St Augustine Campus and Professor Michael Taylor of the Department of Physics at the Mona Campus, both for Outstanding Research Accomplishments; Professor Surendra Arjoon of the Faculty of Social Sciences, at the St Augustine Campus for All-round Excellence in Teaching and Research Accomplishments; Dr Sandra Gift, Head of the Quality Assurance Unit at the St Augustine Campus, for Service to the University Community; Professor Patricia Mohammed, Campus Coordinator, School for Graduate Studies and Research and Head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the St Augustine Campus for All-round Excellence in Research Accomplishments and Service to the University Community; Professor Byron Wilson, of the Department of Life Sciences at the Mona Campus for All-round Excellence in Research Accomplishments and Public Service; and the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), Faculty of Science and Technology at Cave Hill Campus for the Departmental Award for Excellence.

Commenting on the announcement, VC Beckles - who is also the first recipient of inaugural Outstanding Research Accomplishments category - noted, "This event is viewed as the premier celebration of excellence within the wider university community and beyond recognising as it does rigorous peer assessment of academic distinction and performance brilliance across the ocean of our academy. Individuals, networks and institutions are identified, reviewed, and recommendations made within a process known and accepted for its scrutiny of submissions and ingenuity of judgment."

For more about the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, visit:


Professor Hariharan Seetharaman, Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Clinical Surgical Sciences, St Augustine Campus
Outstanding Research Accomplishments
In addition to his clinical and teaching commitments, Professor Hariharan Seetharaman dedicates substantial time to research and has been published in numerous peer-reviewed high impact factor journals. His keen interest in developing innovative models for performance measurement of healthcare units including ICUs, has led him to pioneer work in the area of healthcare management. While his primary academic research focus is the performance of healthcare units and quality improvement, he has conducted expansive research in other areas including critical care, medical ethics, general surgery and health economics. Outside of his medical qualifications, Professor Seetharaman has successfully defended and completed his PhD research thesis in economics and is awaiting the award of the degree.

Professor Michael Taylor, Head, Department of Physics, Mona Campus
Outstanding Research Accomplishments
Professor Michael Taylor’s general areas of academic specialisation are environmental physics, climate variability, climatology and climate change. He is well known for undertaking the study of Caribbean climate variability and climate change at a time when studies devoted to the region were largely led by persons outside the region. Among his wide repertoire of publishing accomplishments, is a book authored earlier this year titled, Why Climate Demands Change. His UWI grantsmanship record totals several million dollars. In May 2015, he played the lead role in securing a US$10.4 million grant for the Mona Campus. Although his scholarly work has reached regional and international impact, his personal philosophy is that research is as much about the people whose lives you interact with in the course of doing so.

Professor Surendra Arjoon, Professor of Business and Professional Ethics. Head, Department of Management Studies, Department of Management Studies, St. Augustine Campus
All-Round Excellence Award in the combined areas of Teaching and Research Accomplishments
Professor Surendra Arjoon’s research, teaching and practice in ethics are all integrated. He has pioneered both research and teaching in the areas of business and professional ethics at The University of the West Indies and is internationally recognised for his work. With a philosophy of ‘contributing and quietly moving on’, he has helped prepare hundreds of students to be independent learners; problem-solvers; logical, inquiring, creative thinkers; team players with well-developed skills in self-directed, life-long learning. In 2012, Professor Arjoon was the winner of a UWI/Guardian Life Premium Teaching Award.

Dr Sandra Gift, Senior Programme Officer, Quality Assurance Unit, St. Augustine Campus
Outstanding Service to the University Community
Dr Sandra Gift’s leadership is demonstrated in her execution of core duties and additional responsibilities to support the pursuit of institutional excellence. Within the regional Quality Assurance Unit, she has long played a lead role in building awareness among The UWI community and external stakeholders on quality in higher education issues. Dr Gift successfully led the St. Augustine Campus’ inaugural and historic institutional accreditation exercise involving six self-study working groups and internal and external stakeholder consultations. She cultivated general awareness of the importance of institutional accreditation while securing the Campus’ accreditation for a seven-year period – the maximum time possible.

Professor Patricia Mohammed, Head and Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, St. Augustine Campus
All-round Excellence in two or more core areas (Research Accomplishments and Service to the University Community)
Professor Patricia Mohammed leads two interdisciplinary academic fields and has successfully introduced a gender perspective into Caribbean Cultural Studies, generating an original body of work in visual studies and visual intelligence in and of the region. She has consistently advanced knowledge in these fields, shaped research agendas, influenced curriculum offerings, supported graduate students and impacted policy locally, regionally and internationally, and has enhanced the reputation of The University of the West Indies.

Professor Byron Wilson, Professor, Herpetology & Conservation Ecology, Department of Life Sciences, Mona Campus
All-round Excellence in two or more core areas (Research Accomplishments and Public Service)
While Professor Byron Wilson has a proven record of leadership in research, his efforts to document and conserve Jamaica’s biodiversity also constitute an exceptional contribution to public service. Over the last five years, Professor Wilson has displayed outstanding productivity in all categories of research output: authorship of books and journals, special issues, editor/series editor and conference presentations. His research and service activities also positively impact the island’s unique biodiversity. Since 2009, he has earned over US$900,000 in local and international research funding; a total of about US$1.5 million since joining the Department in 2001.

The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), Faculty of Science and Technology, Cave Hill Campus
The VC’s Departmental Award for Excellence
The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) promotes and facilitates sustainable development in the Caribbean and beyond through graduate education; applied research in natural resource and environmental management; innovative and collaborative projects; professional training and building capacity of decision-makers; and involvement in the national, regional and global initiatives that shape the Caribbean’s future. It also provides advisory services to governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. A Quality Assurance Review in 2014 concluded that ‘CERMES is currently a key institution of environmental teaching, research, consultancy and project activity in the Caribbean region’. It was clear from the review process that CERMES is one of the premier institutions within The University of the West Indies and should be recognised as a centre of excellence within the University fraternity.


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