Day 3 at University of The Bahamas

I think the numbering of days (now at Day 3!) is going to get old after a while (and implies a chronology that does not always fit well), but I'll keep at is for this first week. It is a big week, with two inbound faculty-led programs coming from Drake University and University of Maryland-College Park. Drake University arrives today and I’ll be writing about this visit!

It is also a week of utmost historical importance. Yesterday was Majority Rules Day, the precursor to independence from England. It could have also been called civil liberties, women's rights, black power, and workers' rights day and this article explains why.    

Back to the work at hand... The goal for this contract in The Bahamas is to choose the ideal location for an inbound study abroad program, develop the receiving capacity, and offer incredible programs for students from all over the world.  

While doing this, there are many things in the outbound realm to attend to--some incredible opportunities for University of The Bahamas (UB) students in Canada, students interested in semester programs in Spain and Mexico, and possible partnerships for the 100,000 Strong in the Americas-Santander initiative.

On that note, my thoughts on this 100,000 Strong in the Americas-Santander initiative developed: 

An African diaspora studies program that involves bilateral exchange and that explores, comparatively, the cultural patterns, religions, arts, and literatures of the Afro-Atlantic and Afro-Caribbean. To locate such a program at the crossroads/gateway of Atlantic and Caribbean waters and regions, The Bahamas, would make for some fascinating inquiry and a chance to explore the Bahamas through multiple perspectives, even geographical ones. Under the framework of an African diaspora program, pressing issues such as global warming and climate change would be included, especially the impact of climate change on diasporic communities across the region. 

I'll be looking for partners in the Northeastern U.S. and will update! 

In about an hour I will be welcoming Drake University to UB. It is such an interesting moment because I was in their shoes only a few months ago—a newcomer, looking at this campus through the eyes of a former study abroad participant and, later, study abroad director.  

I did some digging around and learned more about the history of College of The Bahamas and its transition into University of The Bahamas. One gets the sense of walking with giants on this campus—from The College of The Bahamas to University of The Bahamas, this has always been a national project rooted in the intellectual development of its citizens and residents. 

The Bahamas gained independence from England in 1973. The following year, The College of The Bahamas began to develop through the merging of four institutions: The Bahamas Teachers’ College, San Salvador Teachers’ College, C.R. Walker Technical College and the sixth form program of Government High School (years 12 and 13 of high school). The College of The Bahamas—always with a strong focus on national development and empowering Bahamian nationals—was officially opened in 1977 by the Honorary Lynden O. Pindling, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Even at the time of its inception, The College had its goals reaching towards university status. Sir Lynden Pindling, the young nation’s first Prime Minister, looked far into the future: “And after all of this, what will we have? Ten years from now we will have developed the University of The Bahamas….and the College of The Bahamas will have given way to the University of The Bahamas.”

That call has echoed through the work of generations of gifted students, educators, administrators—a community I got to know when I started teaching in the English Studies last semester. I learned of the great poets, playwrights, doctors, educators, inventors, politicians, and sports figures that graduated from College of The Bahamas over the past decades and will post more on the alumni next week. One of the things that first struck me when I arrived in New Providence was the community’s reaction when I would say that I teach at this institution: there is immense pride and respect. It is humbling and extremely gratifying to teach in that type of environment.

Though I am skipping over several decades of achievements, the Honorary Lynden O. Pindling’s statement on the development of College into University came to fruition on November 10th, 2016. The Honorary Jerome K. Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, announced that the College of The Bahamas would transition into the University of The Bahamas. Celebrating the transition from college to university, former College Council Chairman Mr. Alfred Sears writes in the International Journal of Bahamian Studies: “The dream of a national university, rooted in the painful struggle of our people, forms our vision for the College. And that vision, embraced by the people, will become a source of power, which will liberate the minds of our people to bring the change.”

The College of The Bahamas’ transition into University of The Bahamas comes with a strategic plan for the development of Centres for Excellence spread across the archipelago. I will try to locate a video of the President outlining this plan. 

The development started began before the transition into a university and

Grand Bahama: The new University of The Bahamas-North in East Grand Bahama, a 50-acres campus, was officially opened in 2011. The plan is for Grand Bahamas to turn into a business innovation incubator and it already has a 500-bed residential facility! 

New Providence (Nassau)-Oakes Field Campus: The former auditorium was reconstructed into a 400-seat air-conditioned facility; a specialized pharmacy laboratory, including an organic chemistry lab, was renovated and the G.T.R. Campbell Small Island Sustainability Complex is under construction. 

Andros: In 1995, the institution, along with the Ministry of Education and the Virginia based George Mason University, established the Bahamas Environmental Research Centre (BERC) in Central Andros to conduct research on coastal ecology, estuarine ecology and creek restoration and creek monitoring for grouper and lobster larvae. 

San Salvador: In 1996 the College assumed responsibility for the Gerace Research Centre, formerly the Bahamian Field Station, in San Salvador. The Centre offers facilities for students, professors and researchers from around the world to study in a tropical environment. Research disciplines have included Archaeology, Biology, Geology and Marine Science.

One or more of these campuses will be the location for more incoming groups, semester study abroad programs, and much more! 

Thanks for reading this developer's journal/stories from the field!