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UWIAA Belize Chapter Report

2010 - 2011

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Overview

This report serves to provide a brief synopsis of the Chapter involving its: intended targets, activities and current status.  It also features general observations concerning our efforts.

Targets

During the reporting period, our primary goal was to resurrect the UWIAA Belize Chapter.  Once achieved, we envisaged concentrating efforts toward its revitalisation.  With that acknowledgement, it was determined best to take measured steps, beginning with the element that serves as the foundation of any association – Membership.  It was clear that before anything could be undertaken as a collective Chapter, it was necessary to identify and re-connect with alumni.  Simultaneously, the Chapter would seek to increase efforts to court new alumni as well. This would involve utilising various, innovative means, through which to seek out and communicate with alumni.  Yet preceding this, another basic goal involved recruiting interested persons to serve on the Chapter Executive. 

Upon addressing the two-aforementioned tasks, the Chapter sought to engage activities to: foster awareness of its existence amongst alumni as well as the general public, host a social activity for alumni, continue to liaise with and collaborate with the IAD, Open Campus – Belize and its Student Guild on a variety of activities/initiatives and assist in a campaign to raise funds for unique causes.  Yet another of our goals included pairing with local groups in support of productive engagements

On the surface the targets may appear basic, but given dormancy and overall state of the Chapter prior to July 2010, this was deemed the most prudent course of action.

Activities

The UWIAA Belize Chapter, despite the foreboding nature of the task at hand, embarked on and fulfilled several noteworthy actions.  These included:

  • Effort to fill all posts on the Executive, save for that of the Public Relations Officer, which includes:

-     President – Mr. Frank Edward Paco Smith, Jr. (JP)

-     Vice President – Mr. Brian Duncan

-     Treasurer – Ms. Nellie Trench

-     Secretary – Ms. Susan Ferguson

-     Assistant Secretary/Assistant Treasurer – Ms. Minerva Pott

-     Public Relations Officer - In the interim, the President is functioning in this capacity

  • Created a database, which resulted in a current status of roughly 210 known alumni; Countless others remain to be identified; Note, section “General Observations” for further explanation
  • Created a facebook group (UWIAA Belize Chapter), in an effort to effectively utilise available technology to disseminate and encourage the free flow of information
  • Collaborated with the Open Campus Belize and Student Guild on several activities

     -  Orientation

     -  Student Lime

     - UWISTAT visits

     - Appearing in the local media to promote UWI activities and initiatives

     - Education Week (featuring: a Country Conference, UWI Torch Run & Day of Races, a cricket 

       match and a Distinguished Public Lecture by PVC Professor Sir Hilary Beckles)

  • Attended the monthly UWIAA President’s Teleconferences with the IAD
  • Promoted the UWI Alumni Online (AO)
  • Fund raising; Assisted the Open Campus, Belize in a collaborated effort to raise funds, totalling BZ$1,000 for a Belizean Alumnus who has special needs, Mr. Einstein Bodden, who was doing his medical internship at St. Augustine.
  • Hosted a Social Activity/Happy Hour for Alumni on 3rd December 2010
  • Promoted the University IAD’s “Scholar Ship” effort
  • Linkages – The Chapter has agreed to co-sponsor Social Productivity (Public Lecture) forums with a local group – the Patrimony and Stewardship Working Group (PSWG).  It was envisaged that the forums would place every other month.  The first was held in November 2010.  Meanwhile, the other was postponed.  In short order, we intend to revisit this endeavour.
  • Participated in the Open Campus, Belize’s annual (Graduate) Recognition Ceremony

*Special Project – UWIAA Belize Chapter Inaugural Pelican Awards Ceremony

Upon taking the reign of leadership Chapter President Mr. Paco Smith, pledged to host a major function.  The rationale involved raising the Chapter’s public profile and thereby attracting alumni to become involved.  This was manifest in the form of the Belize Chapter hosting its inaugural Pelican Awards Ceremony on Thursday, 8th September 2011 at the Belize Centre for the Performing Arts, in Belize City.

This was a momentous occasion, as it marked our first attempt at such a major undertaking.  The Pelican Awards is a region-wide effort of Alumni Chapters from throughout the region, in which outstanding graduates of the University are recognised for their outstanding achievements in their respective fields, as well as their contribution to the University’s development.  On this occasion, four eminent Belizean alumni were honoured.  These included: Dr. Carla Barnett (Economics & Regional Development), Dr. Kenrick Leslie (Meteorology & Climate Change), The Hon. Dr. Lennox Pike (Medicine & Philanthropy) and H. E. Sir Colville Young (Humanities, Music and Culture).  On hand for the occasion was none other than the Vice Chancellor, Professor E. Nigel Harris and Dr. Luz Longsworth (Director – UWIOC Sites).  The Vice Chancellor was presented with a Special Award for his Meritorious Service in the areas of: Medicine, Higher Education and Administration.

It was a grand occasion which featured close attention to fine detail.  This was demonstrated via the intricate design of the actual Pelican Awards that were crafted partially from mahogany (the National Tree) and acrylic. Yet another example of the care that was exhibited included wine bottles that were adorned with a commemorative label, created especially for the occasion.

The Pelican Awards Ceremony was noteworthy also, because it allowed for a deepening of the relationship shared with a continuous partner in development - CIBC First Caribbean International Bank.  In addition, the event generated new linkages with the private sector – namely in the form of Bel-Mer Winery.  Both the aforementioned partnered with the Belize Chapter, by providing sponsorship for the Pelican Awards Ceremony and its preceding cocktail. 

Representation

A critical responsibility inherent to leading the Chapter involves assuring competent and meaningful representation at local and regional gatherings.  In fulfilment of this, the Chapter President not only attends monthly UWIAA President’s Teleconferences.  Mr. Paco Smith was elected to serve a second, one year term on the University Council, within the capacity of UWIAA Council Representative, with effect from 1st August 2011.  In this regard, it is assured that a Belizean presence exists on this very important University, decision-making body. As a result, the Chapter President has attended the following regional gatherings:

  • UWIAA Central Executive Committee (CEC) 2010 – Nassau, Bahamas – March 2010
  • UWIAA Central Executive Committee (CEC) 2011 – Kingston, Jamaica – February 2011
  • University of the West Indies’ Annual Business Meeting (ABM) - Basseterre, St. Kitts – April 2011

Variance

Given the tenuous state in which the Chapter stood prior to July 2010, the targets set for the reporting period were fundamental.  The basic goal was to breathe life back into the Chapter via various means and thereby fostering an increase in awareness; thus leading to an eventual increase in activity.

General Observations

With this backdrop, it is fair to say that on a whole, the Chapter succeeded in fulfilling a majority of its targets.  It is important though, to underscore that the level of productivity can always stand to improve, especially in terms of firmly updating the membership database.  Resulting from a monthly UWIAA President’s Teleconference, the Director of Alumni Relations informed that each Chapter President is afforded access to the University’s Alumni Database.  This is a welcomed development as this will ensure that more accurate tally of alumni can be obtained.  Accordingly, this will boost our membership and recruitment efforts.

Of note, it is aspired that with time, we will experience increased participation at all levels.  With the inclusion of a firm commitment from the Executive, as well as the membership at-large, the possibilities of achievement are boundless.  It is hoped that with the aforementioned, the Chapter will be better equipped to take on activities which are steeped in promoting civic consciousness and supporting charitable concerns.

The Executive remains optimistic that the ensuing year will yield even greater inroads toward building the Chapter.