In addition to being a model of wisdom and leadership, former President George Maxwell Richards was also an exemplary academic and a role model to both students and staff of the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus during his tenure as principal, current principal Prof Brian Copeland said yesterday morning.
Copeland spoke to reporters after he and other campus administrators signed a condolence book at UWI’s administration building, and said the late statesman would be best remembered for his sharp wit, calm demeanour and immense contribution to the university. The next generation of academics and leaders could learn a lot from Richards’ philosophy of service before self, he said.
“I feel that in this country all too often and even at the university sometimes, so many people take their qualifications as a stamp that puts them on high, and I feel that George Maxwell Richards has shown us that it doesn’t have to be like that. Humility was a significant part of his legacy, and trying to understand people and helping people. That’s how you build a nation. We all either go down six feet or up in smoke.”
Referring to the recession of the early 1980s in TT, Copeland said Richards’ foresight and patience helped guide the university and the country through economic uncertainty and remarked the coincidence of his passing during a time of similar economic difficulty.
“Its almost like a cycle, because when he was principal there was a recession on in the country at the time, and we were just talking about what he did to overcome that tide, so we are hopeful as well that we will ride out this recession, all because of George Maxwell Richards.”