Dr. Richard Bernal, a former top Caribbean diplomat in Washington who later became Caricom’s lead international trade negotiator, is joining the University of the West Indies as its Pro-Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs.
Dr. Bernal, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the U.S. and the Organization of American States between 1991-2001, is to direct the UWI’s global thrust that would see the region’s premiere educational institution transformed into a global school of higher education with institutes and other academic and training branches in China, New York, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere.
“We are looking forward to working with Dr. Bernal who will inaugurate this new phase of UWI global initiative,” Sir Hillary told the New York Carib News. “We were elated when he accepted our invitation to become pro-vice chancellor. The language we are using is ‘UWI going global’ in setting up a global footprint. Richard will be coordinating and leading the footprint not only in China and the U.S. but also in Latin America where we are now working with universities in Brazil and Columbia. We also want to have a UWI presence in Central America.
“We want to see that when the five year strategic plan for the UWI is completed, the university will be on three continents of the world,” added Sir Hilary. “It will be Dr. Bernal’s remit to have this goal realized. The Caribbean is going to be the world’s first global village. All of the cultures of the world exist in the Caribbean so all the UWI is doing is following its ethnicities. So if we follow our ethnic roots we will go back to Asia, Africa and back to Europe and the Americas.”
Just last month, the university which has more than 40,000 students on four campuses in Jamaica. Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean formally launched the UWI-China Institute for Software Technology in Jamaica and Barbados. The first batch of Caribbean students at the Institutes will begin their courses of study in Kingston and Bridgetown in September. The UWI is also linking arms with the State University of New York to establish an academic center in Manhattan.
Reached in Washington D.C where he is Jamaica’s counselor at the Inter-American Development Bank, Dr. Bernal said that he was committed to the university’s goals and was eager to assume duties.
“I am looking forward enthusiastically to assuming the post at the University of the West Indies,” said Dr. Bernal. “I will do everything possible to bring to fruition the goals of a global UWI.”
A professional economist with almost 40 years of experience, Dr. Bernal was the chief executive officer of a commercial bank in Jamaica and later served as the Caribbean’s Executive Director on the IDB’s Executive Board. He was the Director-General of the Caricom Regional Negotiating Machinery and was the principal negotiator for the Forum of Caribbean States in their trade and economic talks with the European Union.
Actually, his new UWI position means a return to a University where he was first a student and for seven years taught international economics. The former Jamaica envoy is among 50 “Distinguished graduates” of the UWI and has appeared before several U.S. Congressional committees of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, giving testimony on trade legislation, economic development, the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He has written more than 100 scholarly papers, books and articles for prominent national and international publications.
“We were very fortunate to be able to attract him to the University,” said Sir Hilary.