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The UWI Mourns the Loss of Sir Dwight Venner

For Release Upon Receipt - Thursday, December 29, 2016

The University of theWest Indies, Cave Hill Campus community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sir Dwight Venner on Thursday, December 22, 2016.

Sir Dwight served as the first Chairman of the UWI Open Campus from 2008 until his death. As a UWI Alumnus he was deeply committed to the development of the region and strongly believed in The UWI’s role in leading the renewal of the Caribbean.

The Cave Hill Campus acknowledges his sterling service to the OECS region, particularly his leadership of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, where he served as the longest serving Governor from 1989 to 2015.

We express our sincere condolences to his wife, children, relatives and close friends.

Tribute from Vice-Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles

I remember it well, as did everyone whose eyes witnessed the event. It was the ending of the 1980 Jamaica cricket season, and I was called upon to bowl the last over in a tense match between The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Mona Campus and Kingston Cricket Club at the University.

With the opposition requiring just a few runs to win and The UWI in need of the last wicket I nervously bowled the most ordinary, unacceptable of balls. It was wide and short outside the offstump and the batsman, seeing glory, looked to the point boundary and swung.

What followed was a bespectacled, excessively afroed, Venner in his customary second slip position diving full stretch to his left, eating grass along the way, and emerging from his undignified posture with ball held aloft!

The batsman stood his ground in shock and awe. But I had seen Venner do this kind of thing before. Everyone in the area, overwhelmed in jubilation, jumped upon Venner as he admonished us to watch out for his glasses. The umpire raised his finger. Then he calmly walked over to us and said to Venner, "I didn't go to church this morning, but thanks to you I know that God is alive because I have just witnessed a miracle".

This is how we knew the visionary Venner; always focused, always giving of his best for the team, always celebrated for his extraordinary efforts. The tale of the miracle in the middle of a dramatic moment is but a metaphor through which we can view the journey on earth of this spirit that was Sir Dwight.

Thousands of his cohort bonded with him at Mona as the 1980s transitioned the region. As some comrades stepped back and came forward as consultants, Venner's vision was to think and act with consistent personal and public coherence. For him remaining true to core values was top priority. The praxis of economic development was always linked to his commitment to social justice. It was within this vortex of progressive possibilities that Venner was distinguished.

Sir Dwight traced the source of his tremendous courage and commitment to his "Mona making". He loved his alma mater and came to see the future of the Caribbean through the lens it provided. Prepared well for public service, he began his monument building in the "Enterprise of the Indies", as an economist who was later reinvented as a central banker. In this function he emerged as the best in the field. No central banker in our region has ever been so determined to design and engineer the integration movement. As Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, and architect of the deeper integration of the OECS, he showed the wider region how to proceed with the functionality of regionality.

Working with his political and civil society colleagues he took the OECS out to the boundary's edge of leadership in CARICOM and gave us all an example of what is possible with hard work, faith, trust and confidence. Here was a brother whose soul, heart, and intellect resided in the same space; he represented a unique integrity that rejected the contradiction between the personal and the public. He lived his life as a man from the community for the region. Critically, he did not flinch nor flounder in the face of fierce headwinds.

Sir Dwight was a leader in the generation that followed Sir Alister McIntyre and William Demas. Surrounded by intellects as sharply as Ralph Gonsalves and Keith Mitchell, he took to the development field with passion and determination to bat for his people in need of good runs as they moved to the rendezvous of victory. No region has ever prospered without the resolve of comrades such as Sir Dwight. No community can persist with resilience without the inculcation of his kind of consciousness in the spirit of those coming behind.

The UWI is honoured to have assisted in the making of a special son who was exclusively engaged in his service to region. All of us within the academy and beyond its boundaries shall miss the presence of his personhood, but we shall mightily remember with delight our Dwight. We salute the distinguished Venner family for their sharing of this special soul and we stand with them in both their reflection and celebration.

One Love, One UWI, One Caribbean.

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies

Tribute from The UWI, Open Campus

The leadership, staff and students of the UWI Open Campus mourn the passing of our Campus Council Chair Sir Dwight Venner on Thursday December 22, 2016. Sir Dwight was a regional giant whose passion, dedication and commitment to the development of the people of the region were legendary. It was therefore no surprise that in 2008 Sir Dwight agreed to serve as the first Chairman of the newly formed Open Campus, a post that he held right up to the time of his passing.

Sir Dwight was committed to the success of the Campus which he saw as integral to the development of the human capital in his beloved Caribbean. As a UWI Alumnus and former Lecturer in the Department of Economics at Mona, Sir Dwight was resolute that the UWI had to be the engine for change and growth of the people of the region. He was indefatigable in his advocacy of the UWI Open Campus and its mission to serve the underserved of the region.

In his statement to the Campus Council in 2015, Sir Dwight stressed that the University of the West Indies was ideally situated to lead the regional renewal of the Caribbean, and that the Open Campus played a seminal role in this effort. His own contributions to this mission, particularly through his 26 years of service to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank as Governor, have been transformational for this region.

The Open Campus is grateful for his leadership, his support and his guidance over the past 8 years. We will feel his absence deeply as we move towards our new strategic plan for 2017-2022, but are comforted by the knowledge that he has helped to lay a strong foundation for the future of the Campus, the University and his beloved region.

We offer our sincere condolences to his wife and children on this sad loss of a beloved husband and father. The entire region shares in mourning the loss of this lion of a man whose quintessential Caribbean persona will live on through the institutions he built.

About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses inBarbados,Jamaica,Trinidad and Tobago, and theOpen Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)


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