By Feona Morrison
Alumni relations play a vital role in the advancement of any institution. It is in this regard, that the University Of Guyana (UG) launched its Alumni Association under the banner “Proud Legacy: Prosperous Destiny”, on Friday evening, over 50 years after the university was established.
During a simple but significant ceremony held at the university’s Turkeyen Campus, graduates and current students were enlightened to the importance of the Alumni Association—a platform for increased awareness, participation and academic involvement for both students and faculty members.
Among those present at the event were UG Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith (Class of 1980 and 1981); Pro Chancellor, Major General retired, Joe Singh; Deputy Vice Chancellor for Philanthropy, Alumni and Civic Engagement (PACE), Professor Paloma Mohammed (Class of 1992 and 2000); Professor George Ken Danns (Class of 1975); Veteran Broadcaster Michella Abraham (Class of 2008), among others.
“The creation of the University of Guyana’s Alumni Association is indispensable for the branding, expansion and maintenance of the development of the university,” said Professor Danns, who delivered the keynote address.
According to Dr. Danns, a professor of sociology at the University of North Georgia, the benefits for the university from the Alumni Association are many and far-ranging, from mentoring services to gaining work experience and maintaining an ongoing connection with peers.
He said, “It must be the purpose of the University of Guyana Alumni Association to tap into the philanthropic spirit of its alumni to give back to their alma mater. It was a huge mistake for the University of Guyana to have lost track of many, if not most of its graduates.
This will and must be remedied for the Alumni Association is crucial for supporting the educational mission of the university, upholding its tradition, and preserving its heritage, its identity and its integrity.”
He told the gathering that the university’s alumni holds leading positions in government and semi-government entities throughout Guyana. He said that the premiere learning institution has educated past and present executive presidents of the country, the current Prime Minister and numerous members of the cabinet, while stressing, that these leaders owe much to UG.
“Chancellor (of the Judiciary) Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire were students in my SOCI 100 Class,” Professor Danns said, while reflecting on his life at UG. He added that without the education and training these leaders received there, it is doubtful whether they would have risen to such positions of prominence and privilege.
Professor Danns who served as Director for Resource Mobilization and Planning at UG, over almost two decades ago stated, “The twin responsibilities of University Planning and Resource Mobilization may have constrained any initiative to organize a dynamic Alumni Association. It was also possible that the university may have expected this to be an initiative of past graduates themselves.”
On this notion, he commended the university’s administration for taking on the serious responsibility of connecting with the alumni and motivating them to reconnect with their academic origin and serving it with pride.
According to the UG graduate, every graduate of the university he has spoken to feels obligated and would be honoured to be availed, and look forward to transparent and accountable opportunities to give back.
“Many of them have been waiting for decades to do so.”
Professor Danns pointed out, “You would think like Harvard University which educated several American presidents and numerous of their corporate leaders, that the University of Guyana would be perceived, treated and resourced as the premiere educational institution that it deserves to be. Regrettably, this is not the case.”
As such, he emphasized that the lack of a well organized Alumni Association is responsible for some of the difficulties endured by UG, which include, severe resource deprivation.
Meanwhile, Professor Mohammed, whose efforts were instrumental in establishing the Alumni Association, discussed the principal objectives of the Association and the mechanics of how it will function. She applauded the attendees for showing interest in the growth of UG.
Professor Mohamed disclosed that very soon chapters of the Alumni Association will be launched in the USA, Toronto and London. Come June 27, she said, the university’s Tain Campus will have an Alumni launch.
The goal of the Alumni Association is to connect graduates and past faculty and staff of UG in a reciprocally beneficial relationship of investing, nurturing, fundraising, mentorship and development, Professor Mohammed says. She urged persons to consider giving for scholarships, mentorships, equipment, books, internships, monetary gifts, travel bursaries and through other kind gestures.
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