History in choice of new UWI Vice Chancellor...
Nigel Harris succeeds Rex Nettleford By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
December 14, 2003

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BRIDGETOWN - AN INTERNATIONALLY renowned scholar in the field of medicine has been unanimously chosen as the new Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies.

He is Professor Nigel Harris, a Guyana-born national, citizen of the United States of America and son of the famous Guyanese novelist, Wilson Harris.

Dr. Harris is the first Vice Chancellor to have been appointed from among candidates of the West Indian Diaspora.

Professor Harris's selection as the new Vice Chancellor came some hours before last evening's ceremonial installation of Professor Sir George Alleyne, the distinguished Barbados-born scholar and former Director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

With the earlier choice of Sir George to succeed the retired Sir Shridath Ramphal as Chancellor, and now Professor Harris as the new Vice Chancellor, history has been created for the UWI.

It is the first time in the 50 years existence of the UWI that the two top positions are being held, simultaneously, by former graduates of the university and both from its Faculty of Medicine.

The unanimous choice of Harris by the Council of the UWI, the Sunday Chronicle was reliably informed, was taken yesterday at an extraordinary session of that highest decision-making body of the premier education institution of the English-speaking Caribbean.

An official announcement is likely to be made today.

The choice of Professor Harris was guided by a report submitted to the Council from a special "search committee" for a new Vice Chancellor to succeed Professor Rex Nettleford, outstanding exponent of Caribbean culture, who is due to retire in June next year after some nine years in that post.

Harris, currently Dean and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of Morehouse School of Medicine, was chosen from a short list of three candidates.

The two unsuccessful candidates were Jamaica-born Principal of the UWI Mona Campus, Professor Kenneth Hall, and the Barbados-born Principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, Professor Hilary Beckles.

Originally, there was a split two years ago when a search committee was mandated to come up with a suitable replacement for Professor Nettleford who is now completing his second two-year extension as Vice Chancellor. The Council then decided to extend the "search" process.

From a very long list of candidates - about 80 - according to informed sources, the list of potential candidates was eventually reduced to five, and then the final three - Harris, Hall and Beckles.

Sir George presided at the Council meeting held at the Cave Hill Campus and is reported to have commended the search committee, chaired by Professor Marshall Hall for the thoroughness of its work before his own ceremonial installation as the UWI's new Chancellor.

After graduating as Doctor of Medicine from the UWI, Harris did specialty training in Rheumatology in the United Kingdom. Later, along with two other specialists, he participated in devising a diagnostic test for a new disease called `Antiphospholipid Syndrome’.

He has published over 150 papers, editorials, reviews and chapters on the subject, and has acquired years of teaching experience in the UK and USA.

Having advanced to the rank of Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at the University Of Louisville, Kentucky, Harris was appointed in 1996 to his current position at Morehouse School of Medicine as Dean and Senior Vice President.