After two years of high-level negotiations, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and the University of Miami (UM) have agreed to partner for mutual strategic purposes.
On October 22, vice-chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and UM president, Dr Julio Frenk emerged from discussions with the principles of the agreement contained in an MOU.
The MOU commits the two universities to a bilateral partnership which focuses on collaboration in areas such as public health, local harming from global warming,access to global technology, poverty reduction, innovation and youth entrepreneurship, , said a media release.
The signing took place during a bilateral meeting of the two universities at The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Presentations were also made by The UWI’s and UM’s medical faculty representatives on the status of collaborative projects underway, including in drug abuse research, paediatric preventable blindness, and sport and community health.
Noting that the agreement was historic and potentially a game changer, Beckles said, “President Frenk and I see the South Florida-Miami and Caribbean spaces as one extended ‘domestic zone’ in which our respective communities have an intense daily experience. Indeed, our universities have been called into this alliance because it would be irresponsible of us to ignore the perception of our stakeholders, that Miami and the Caribbean might be separated by water, but they are integrated by pretty much everything else.”
Pointing to collaborations with other universities including the State University of New York, Beckles said, “The UWI is pursuing models that bring value to the countries of the region, recognising how we can advance mutual interest in a region that has long been victim of extractive models.
He also noted, “Caribbean people are very serious about sustainable development—there is a demand, a thirst for it—so everything we do must be relevant, impactful and sustaining of our developmental energies.”
Frenk stated that UM, which will be celebrating its centenary in 2025, “was founded with the ideal of being a Pan-American university. Now it is being transformed into a hemispheric university and it is vital that we establish the kinds of collaborations that this MOU represents.”
Noting that The UWI and UM have had a “long relationship of international cooperation,” he elaborated, “this MOU will take what is already a fruitful relationship to another level, addressing critical issues relevant to both communities. Miami is a cosmopolitan city, the Caribbean is a cosmopolitan region and as universities we have the responsibility of improving the condition of people around the world.”
Ambassador Gillian Bristol, director, The UWI’s Latin American-Caribbean Centre, chaired the meeting noted, “With the signing of the MOU between The University of the West Indies and the University of Miami, we can move forward on initiatives, some of which have already begun and projects which will be impactful in changing the life of the region.”
This engagement between The UWI and the University of Miami, preceded the Second Meeting of Hemispheric University Consortium (HUC) which was co-chaired by Beckles and Frenk. The HUC, which includes The UWI, comprises a total of 14 universities from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and the United States.