The University of The Bahamas (UB) held its Northern Bahamas Campus Charter Celebration Ceremony on Thursday, April 27 at the Northern Campus with much pomp and pageantry.
The ceremony, which started at 10:00 a.m. featured remarks from Dr. Earl Cash, Chairman of the UB Board of Trustees; Sarah St. George, Vice Chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA); Dr. Rodney D. Smith, UB President and Minister for Grand Bahama, Dr. Michael Darville.
Dr. Coralee Kelly, Vice President (Interim) of the Northern Bahamas Campus stated that UB has come a long way, but there is still much to be done.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done and while we are aware that there are many challenges, we are very mindful that there are many possibilities,” she said.
Speaking on the campus’ expansion, Sarah St. George noted how many students would now have the opportunity to study in Grand Bahama, as opposed to going to New Providence; therefore, saving money.
“Parents have struggled to bare the extra cost of students who are enrolled in the Northern Campus having to relocate to Nassau,” she said.
The GBPA donated the dormitory that should be finished by the Fall 2017 semester. The “modular technology” construction of the new UB dormitories is underway. The design will consist of 14 dormitories that will house 88 students, a cafeteria, offices and a health clinic on the existing property at the campus in East Grand Bahama.
UB president called the reason for celebration a milestone for the university.
“We’re very happy today,” he said.
He also thanked the GBPA for their contributions and financial support of UB.
Smith explained the mission of UB.
“The mission of the University of The Bahamas is to advance and expand access to higher education, promote academic freedom, drive national development and build character through teaching, learning, research, scholarship and service,” he said.
He added that this mission requires UB to provide higher education to all Bahamians and protect academic freedom, while welcoming different points of view and encouraging open dialogue.
Smith said that academic researchers would be committed to driving national development in the interest of all Bahamians and the enhanced knowledge of all who come to The Bahamas to study.
Smith stated that character developments must also be on par with academic achievement.
Minister Darville spoke to the development of UB, during his keynote address.
He said that the country must educate and prepare its young people, in order to ensure that they are empowered and as a result, able to contribute to the growth and development of this island, and the country as a whole, which led to the establishment of The College of The Bahamas, the most prominent tertiary level education institution in a post Independent Bahamas, by an Act of Parliament, on October 30, 1974.
The college’s mandate required it, among other things, “to provide a place of education, learning and research of a standard required and expected of a College of the highest standard.
“Throughout the years, the College of The Bahamas expanded by leaps and bounds,” said Darville.
He added that a new College of The Bahamas Act was passed by Parliament in 1995, which changed the nomenclature of the executive team from Principal to President, and positions of vice-presidents were established. Because of the 1995 Act, the college was given the authority to grant Bachelor’s degrees and was afforded greater autonomy for its financial and administrative affairs.
“Nonetheless, ladies and gentlemen, it was in May, 2002, under the first Christie-led PLP Administration, the government of The Bahamas announced its intention to transition the College of The Bahamas into a University,” he said.
Darville added that the then Minister of Education, Alfred Sears affirmed the government’s commitment by beginning the work, which continued to its fruition in 2016, when this Christie administration passed the University of The Bahamas Act through Parliament, making the transition official.
“Today is both a monumental and historic one, as that vision has now become a reality; for today, we commemorate the transition from College of The Bahamas to the University of The Bahamas here at the Northern Campus. As a result, we can expect enhanced technological and structural upgrades to the tools and facilities here on the Northern campus,” he said.
A number of special guests attended the event, including K. Peter Turnquest, Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader and candidate for East Grand Bahama; Ian Rolle, President of the GBPA and Henry St. George, Vice President of the GBPA.
The ceremony was followed by the unveiling of two plaques – one recognising the Charter of UB and another commemorating the Grand Bahama Port
Authority’s gift of the land on which the campus is constructed.
UB transitioned from the College of The Bahamas and was chartered on November 10, 2016.