First woman president of UCCI inaugurated

| 15/03/2019
CNS Local Life
Dr Stacy McAfee addresses the audience after her investiture (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

(CNS Local Life): Outlining a vision of the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) as “key to national prosperity” and promising that “the success of our students will be the stars that guide us through the night sky”, Dr Stacy McAfee officially took up the mantle as UCCI president and CEO on Tuesday, 12 March.

The ceremony, in the packed Sir Vassel Johnson Hall, not only marked the first-ever inauguration of a UCCI president but also the first woman to take the helm.

The overriding message from the various speakers was on moving the university forward, in keeping with the evening’s theme: “Charting our Future: Guided by our heritage, faithfully navigating new possibilities.”

CNS Local Life
Anthony Ritch administers the oath of office to the new president (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Minister for Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who has said almost nothing publicly about her vision for education in the Cayman Islands since taking on the ministry, delivered the shortest speech of the night when she was called onstage to offer a welcome message. “I have been asked to bring greetings this evening, and so I go. Good evening,” she said, and then walked off the stage as the audience laughed. (See video below, approx 8:30)

The formal occasion was in stark contrast to the official welcome received when recently retired president Roy Bodden took over UCCI in 2009. At the time, he was replacing Hassan Syed who had fled Cayman, and eventually was extradited, tried and convicted of misappropriating more than $700,000 from the university and sentenced to eight years in prison in 2017.

The board of governors assembled the academic faculty and administration, Bodden recalled, and simply introduced him as president. In comparing the two occasions, Bodden said that when he became president, the “circumstances (proved) a difficult challenge” and there was “no room for this kind of celebration”. He added that while he appreciated all the “pomp and pageantry”, he preferred to “go in quietly, work and prove my mettle and then go out with a ceremony”, which he was given in December.

In his welcome address, Anthony Ritch, chairman of the UCCI board of governors, said that in the search for a new president to replace Bodden, they needed someone to “inspire” students and staff, adding that McAfee brings qualifications, vigor and skills and is “diligently earning” everyone’s trust. “The future is in good hands under the leadership of Dr Stacy McAfee,” he said.

CNS Local Life
(L-R) Kimberly Czantal Tigley (representing students), Dr Kwabena Asamoah (representing staff), Dr Stacy McAfee, Dr Livingston Smith (vice president and provost), Mark Scotland (deputy chair, board of governors) and Allison Anglin (registrar) (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller gave an expansive address on the potential and direction of UCCI.  “Dr McAfee has the vision and obviously the courage to transform the university into an institution that understands its essential and singular role in nation building,” he said.

He extolled government and the private sector to become involved in UCCI’s transformation. “One important game-changer would be for both… to relinquish piecemeal training being delivered in their individual silos. I urge the two sectors, instead, to engage UCCI to provide their post-secondary education and training – whether professional or technical,” he said.

After the official investiture in which McAfee was presented with the presidential seal, she addressed the audience. She thanked those gathered and acknowledged her family – Terry, her husband of 32 years, their three children and her sister – along with her friends who had travelled to Cayman for the ceremony.

CNS Local Life
Dr Stacy McAfee wearing the presidential seal (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

She touched on how she views a life well-lived and how that influenced her decision to serve as the president and CEO of UCCI. “I chose this opportunity because I was inspired by the values you treasure that mirror my own, faith, family and belief in the power of the human spirit,” she said.

“Tertiary education played a formative role in shaping who I became, despite challenging life circumstances, allowing me to pursue a meaningful life, and instilling in me this insatiable desire to ensure that every person has the same opportunity to realise the life-changing potential of tertiary education that I experienced,” McAfee added.

She took the audience on a “narrated journey of the future of your UCCI”, saying the school provides a “student-centred education” with each student on an “individualised learning pathway that maximises personal development”.

After recounting the achievements of the university in such fields as art, music, technology, broadcast media and various research projects, McAfee said, “It seems that the UCCI has truly become an engine for economic development, innovation and social change leading to broad prosperity within the Cayman Islands.”

She then spoke directly to the “amazing students and their families” saying they were why she chose to lead UCCI. “There is no greater privilege than to serve as your president and CEO and set a course that can provide each of you with an opportunity to live out your dreams, love deeply, and achieve anything your heart desires,” she said.

She added, “As your new president and CEO, my promise to you is that the success of our students will be the stars that guide us through the night sky and the sun for navigation through each day. Our commitment is to provide an education that prepares citizens for meaningful lives and careers, recognising and celebrating each person’s God-given gifts and talents.”

Read Dr Stacy McAfee’s full speech here

Read Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller’s address here

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Category: Education

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS: this story is just jinked — I have refreshed my browser on my iPhone several times and still the story is stuck on six comments and am unable to add to thumbs up or down.

    Also, too many clicks to get to the story. Something wrong with the set up.

    I have turned phone on and off several times too.

    I don’t have this problem with other stories on CNS.

    CNS: I think this may be your browser caching the page. Did it update eventually? Did you try clearing your cache?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Woman gets job. Big whoop.

  3. Observer says:

    The induction was an important exercise as Dr McAfee’s main job is to solicit funding for UCCI to develop into a first class university. This is the norm for a university president in most countries, Although I will grant we here in Cayman are not used to that.

    In advance of her playing that role , The community needed to be properly introduced and to gain insights into her vision.

    By the way, the only funds spent was the raw materials for the buffet cooked and served by students as part of their training.

  4. Anonymous says:

    All that fanfare and those promises – ponder on this:-
    “A worrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a worrior who has already won.”
    1 Kings 20:11

    • Anonymous says:

      8:11 am: So sad that you interpret what happened as “boasting”. A warrior has to inspire confidence in the troops — that was what it was about — and appealing for other warriors to come aboard.

      So yet again, you misquote and misapply scripture.

      The question is why — who are you that you are so intent on discrediting the start of something that we should be all supporting?

    • Observer says:

      8:11 am: You misinterpreted “vision” to mean boasting or predicting. Neither would be correct.

      Every organization must have a vision — I am sure your Bible knowledge will bring to mind Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

    • Anonymous says:

      8:11 am: the word is “warrior”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Welcome, Dr McAfee. I am sure you will do well. I appeal to the private sector to rally around Dr McAfee and support her efforts to make UCCI the pride of the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean. We can do it! And our youth and future generations are dependent on us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ju ju u should be ashamed of your self for that speech , we Brackers are ashamed.

      • Anonymous says:

        8:28pm, a disgrace to the Cayman Islands, and most disgraceful being the Minister of Education. Can we expect the students to be any better under her leadership. She really displayed her Christianity and professionalism. A let down to all of us but more so to the Brackers who believed in her. Step down, you are not the person to promote education, you are too hostile.

  6. Anonymous says:

    UCCI should seriously look into revoking any bogus politically-motivated or falsely conferred honorary degrees. McKeeva’s bio boasts as if he’d earned an Hon Msc and Phd from somewhere – though none seems to have been conferred. In his words:

    “From McKeeva Bush:

    [9:25 AM, 7/5/2018] Wendy: Tell auntie and the other sobs that my lawyer will read what they say. I won’t !
    I will decide how to handle you and them under the standing orders.

    But for now….
    Some people always throw stones in your path. It depends on what you make with them; a Wall or a Bridge? – Remember you are the architect of your life.

    Take that!!!
    [9:25 AM, 7/5/2018] Wendy: So you know !!!
    Here’s what one wise person wrote to me about you and cns kind of racism bigotry

    The legacy of colonialism which is the mother of racism will continue to manifest itself in all walks of our daily lives! Until the philosophy that holds one race superior than the other is finally discredited and abandoned,and the color of a man skin is no more significant than the color of his eyes,we will continue to see these acts of prejudice perpetrated against us! I know you see and experience it in your daily political interactions at the highest level!
    No matter how they dress it up they will never acknowlege us as being equal to them! But is not what they teach us but what we know! Mac as the bible quotes! Prove all things,and hold fast to that which is good!

    I have learned to laugh at you and that “pop eyed soldier crab”who you say own cns.”

    Even more from McKeeva Bush:

    “Your criticism of me only shows how really wutless and poor you and your slander sheet is!!!
    While you criticize me about a doctorate I’ve been honored with only just shows just how poor and lowdown in journalism(simply just can’t call it that though) you and the “ pop eyed soldier crab”is!!!
    Ha ha ha????????????????!!!!

    By the way you ought to know since you and “your make believe writers” are so interested,there are several other well known and decent Caymanians who havd been so honored.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    That’s how far behind this island’s culture is compared to the more civilized part of the world.
    A woman becomes the president of something.

    • anonymous says:

      6:25 pm, hmmm, I think you are a little off base here:

      1. This is not the first first time in Cayman that “a woman becomes the president of something.” There are many organizations with women at the top and in leadership roles. And by the way, CNB just got its first woman president, in a heavily male dominated sector.

      2. The event was not necessarily to celebrate the first-time appointment of a women president, although it was certainly worth noting, especially in Women’s Month, but it was about celebrating a new start for UCCI, with renewed hope and aspirations.

      3. It was an opportunity for the new president to create greater visibility and to begin to tell the story of her vision and hopes for UCCI.

      If she didn’t you would be criticizing her.

      Remember, her specific role is to create channels of communication and outreach with the private sector and government to gain funding for UCCI.

      Not that is worth celebrating — in the past the leadership at UCCI never sought to rally private sector support — to leverage the good will of the financial power base for the university.

      That was what the celebration was about.

      Let us all not only pray for Dr. McAfee’s success, but let us also rally around the university. We want it to become not only an institution of which we can all be around, but also one that will save more of our youth who need education to take them on a new path to success and productivity.

      • anonymous says:

        regarding 10:10 am: “Not that is worth celebrating…” should have been “Now that is worth celebrating….” Typo. sorry

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s not the beginning of her presidency, it’s the ending that will determine her success.

    • Anonymous says:

      12:34 — you are so wise. Now let’s get behind the university and Dr McAfee and help make it a success.

  9. anonymous says:

    Wonderful. Welcome Dr. McAfee! I am very happy to have you as my new school president.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What a waste of public money. I suggest she focuses on her students not her presidency.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:56 am — It was a well worthwhile event to introduce the new president and what she stands for. And it was a beautifully orchestrated programme.

      As for costs, students prepared and served the meals — so the only thing that would have attracted a cost was mitigated.

      A monetary price, however, cannot be put on the goodwill that the event garnered for the future well being of UCCI.