Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), who received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Toronto yesterday, had a special message for graduates in the ” health and cognate disciplines.”
Addressing convocation after the doctorate was conferred upon him, Sir George, the Barbados-born physician recognized internationally as a major leader in promoting the prevention and control of chronic non-communicable diseases, said “there is nothing more gratifying than playing a part in improving the human condition.”
He told graduates: ” It is possible to do so and not have to take a vow of poverty,
” Your quest for improving the public’s health and reducing the avoidable inequalities in health is at the heart of human development.
” If there is one charge I would lay on you is to insist that development is not measured only in economic terms.
” The disciplines represented by you are key to human development and you are genuine development experts. So please do not leave the list to those who speak of development only in economic terms.”
“The world will always offer you multiple opportunities to use your expertise.”
Sir George who as Chancellor of UWI since 2003 has presided over 50 graduation ceremonies, also told the University of Toronto graduates that ” there will be some angst about whether you can perform competently in the first job you take.
” I urge you not to worry. No one is ever fully ready for a new work challenge.”
He told them that he was not concerned about their readiness for work ” because from what I know and hear of your school and your training you are job prepared.
” I have always insisted to our graduates that is it critical that they be job prepared rather than being job ready as they will most certainly change their occupations several times as the years go by.
Sir George also called on graduates to be ” good alumni.”
” The prestige of your university has been assured by the generations of faculty and students who have faithfully fulfilled the cannons of academia in teaching, service and research. But the continuing brilliance must be enhanced by your performance as ambassadors of the university, ” he told them.
He urged students to observe ” the three golden rules for alumni.
” Rule number one – you must give. Rule number two – you must give until it hurts and rule number three – you must not feel the pain of giving.”
Sir George who holds a doctorate of medicine from the University of London and is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the American College of Physicians, was appointed professor of medicine at UWI in 1972 and departmental chair in 1976.
He joined the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) in 1981, became director in 1995 and after two terms retired as director emeritus in 2003.
(PAHO is the world’s oldest International Health Organization and is also the Regional Office of the World Health Organization for the Americas.)
Sir George was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994 for his services to medicine in the Caribbean. In 2001, he was awarded the Order of the Caribbean Community, the highest honour given to a Caribbean national by the Community.