UB introduces New Programs in Agriculture, Biology, Statistics and GIS

The Board of Trustees (BOT) of the University of Belize on March 27, 2018, approved four new Undergraduate programs effective for the new academic year 2018-2019. These four programs under the Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) are in alignment with UB’s Transformational Plan: Vision 2022.

UB President Attends CSUCA Meeting in Antigua, Guatemala

Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat attended the 111th Meeting of Consejo Superior Universitario Centroamericano (CSUCA – Central American Higher Education Council) from March 13 to March 15, 2018 in Antigua, Guatemala. The President attended in his capacity as Vice President of CSUCA. While there, he attended a joint meeting between Presidents/Rectors of Universities from France and Central America. One of the major areas of information sharing and discussion was the engagement of France with institutions in Central America and the possibilities for even wider and deeper collaboration. French Universities and Institutions have partnered with Central American universities especially in Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras and are developing double degrees at the Master’s and Doctoral levels, training of faculty members of these universities and institutional accreditation of Universities. The standards of accreditation of the High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES) of France were shared and discussed at the meeting. The Rector of Tecnologico de Costa Rica (TEC), Julio Calvo Alvarado, spoke on how their University has advanced its institutional accreditation application. Mutual recognition of degrees between France and Central American Universities was also discussed. The meeting also heard on opportunities for France’s support for programs in Engineering for Central American universities at the Bachelor’s level of four years and an additional two years for the Master’s degree. There are opportunities for the University of Belize to engage with French authorities to build capacity, especially human development in Sciences, Engineering, Health and the Humanities.

SG Elect Dr. Carlos Alvarado Cerezo

At the CSUCA meeting, a new Secretary General (SG) was elected. Dr. Carlos Alvarado Cerezo, the current Rector of the University of San Carlos was appointed by acclamation, as he has an outstanding record as an academic and an administrator at the tricentennial University. Dr. Alvarado will replace the current SG, Dr. Alfonso Fuentes Soria who served two terms as SG and did so with distinction as through his leadership more Central American Universities joined the CSUCA network for example. He also advanced the cause of CSUCA internationally, especially in Europe. The Secretary General will be recognized at a later date for his outstanding work.

Dr. Alfonso Fuentes Soria with President Sankat

A mutual issue identified in Central American Universities was tuition. A proposal was made for Central American University students to pay the same tuition as nationals pay in their Universities. This approach will facilitate mobility among Central American students. Each University has been asked to consider this matter.

The President is grateful to CSUCA officials and Rectors for the warm reception he received.

Professor Sankat will be assuming the Presidency of CSUCA in July for the 2018-2019 academic year.

UB Black Jaguars Paddle to First Place!

“In 2016 we ranked third in our category. In 2017 we secured second place. This year, it is now time to get the championship trophy and we are working very hard to achieve that dream.” That was the sentiment of Anselmo, Tariq and Eric leading up to the race and they accomplished their dream by paddling to first place in the Intramural Category of the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge which took place from March 9th to March 12, 2018.

The team left Hawkesworth Bridge, San Ignacio with fifty-two (52) other teams on Friday, March 9th at 6:30 a.m. and after approximately five (5) hours of paddling placed first in their category arriving at Banana Bank and placed eleventh overall. The following day, the team arrived in Double Head Cabbage, 14th overall but remained first in their category in the second leg of the race. This result remained the same the following day upon arrival at Burrell Boom. On the final leg, the team encountered difficulties with the health of two of the paddlers which resulted in our coming in second that day. They made a lot of progress during the first three days which impacted the overall time. When the results were tallied we still emerged victorious.

The team was accompanied by members of the Student Government, students and members of UB’s Environmental Club who cheered them and simultaneously helped keep the environment clean by cleaning up the river bank. The University of Belize thanks Koop Sheet Metal who were our Black Jaguars major sponsor.

Congratulations to the Black Jaguars team: Anselmo Rash, Tariq Palacio, Eric Flowers and Coach Claude Jones!

UB Lecturer & Prairie View A&M University Researchers: Winners of the International Award for Excellence in Diversity Research

UB Faculty of Education and Arts’ Lecturer, Mathias R. Vairez Jr., along with three research colleagues from Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas, USA are the winners of the International Award for Excellence in Diversity Research from the Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations Journal Collection, Volume 17.  The research article entitled “Does Diversity Really Matter?: The Interplay between Students’ Race and Their Teachers’ Level of Cultural Responsiveness” was selected for the award from among the highest-ranked articles, emerging from the peer-review process and selection criteria, of Volume 17.

The research was conducted while Mathias R. Vairez Jr. was on study leave from University of Belize as a Doctoral Candidate at Prairie View A&M University.  The other authors were Professor Tyrone Tanner, Ed.D., Professor Douglas Hermond, Ph.D, and Larchin Leslie, Ph.D.The announcement was made on February 27, 2018, by Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations Research Network.

Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat congratulates Mathias R. Vairez Jr. (and his colleagues) on this award and encourages him to remain active in conducting research and instill in his students and colleagues the importance of research.  This recognition comes at a pivotal time where President Sankat in his Transformational Plan 2017-2022 aims to put Postgraduate Research in the body of our University.

The United States continues to experience a persistent academic achievement gap between European American students and students of color from historically marginalized groups.  In response, many researchers have found that culturally responsive educators are able to significantly reduce achievement gaps.  In an attempt to better understand the achievement gap and cultural responsiveness, the researchers examined whether teachers’ level of cultural responsiveness differed based on the racial makeup of the student body.  Using several theories, as identified in “Culturally Responsive Educational Theories” (2013), a culturally responsive survey was developed and administered to measure teachers’ initial level of cultural responsiveness.  The study revealed that teachers who taught in schools with higher percentages of students of color had higher levels of overall cultural responsiveness as well as higher levels of cultural responsiveness as it relates to their efficacy and as it relates to their perspectives on students’ views and values.  The findings strongly suggest that culturally responsive qualities are enhanced when educators have greater exposure to diverse learners.

The research article can be found at https://cgscholar.com/bookstore/works/does-diversity-really-matter

Let’s Build UB Together.

UB Presents at CEMO 2018

UB student research fellows Ilya Herrera and Giselle Mahung participated in the booth display for CEMO Symposium 2018 on behalf of the Belize River Watershed Management Plan Project and NRM Faculty Member Antonio Cano presented on the Development of the Belize River Watershed Management Plan at CEMO Symposium 2018.

President’s Update – February 8, 2018

President Congratulates the Regional UWI on its 70th Anniversary

Governor General of Belize Sir Colville Young, Chairman of UB Board of Trustees Mr. Harrison Pilgrim and Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat attended a Thanksgiving Service, on Sunday January 28, 2018, at the Lake Independence Baptist Church, Belize City in commemoration of University of the West Indies’ 70th anniversary. This event was hosted by the UWI Open Campus, Belize City.

Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat congratulated the University of West Indies, “A light rising from the West”, for their contribution to the high level human resource development of the Caribbean region during these seventy years and wished this Institution the best for its next 70-year journey.

Meeting with University representatives from North Georgia (UNG)

Professor Sankat; Mr. Deryck Satchwell, member of UB Board of Trustees; and Vice President Dr. Mariot Simon met with Dr. Carly Womack-Wynne from University of North Georgia (UNG) on February 2, 2018. UB and UNG are both COBEC (Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation) members. The meeting was to discuss matters on building quality in higher education at UB and in Belize. There is much hope for a fruitful collaboration between these two COBEC Universities.

Solar LED lights installed at UB Belmopan Campus

On Saturday, February 3, 2018, Professor Emeritus President Sankat joined members of the Physical Plant Department to install Solar LED light fixtures on the Belmopan Campus. 16 fixtures were installed along the walkway between the Administration Building Junction and the UB Book Store. These light fixtures are energy efficient with a feature that utilizes 25% of its energy which increases to 100% when there is movement in close proximity to the poles, giving higher lighting intensity. 36 more lights are scheduled to be installed within the next few weeks, as we step up the lighting on the campus to enhance faculty, staff and student security.

More information on the LED lights can be found here.

President Meets with Co-Chair of COBEC

President Sankat met with Dr. Emilia Hodge, Co-Chair of COBEC, and staff member of the University of Florida, on February 5, 2018. UB had a booth at the Tertiary Options and Opportunities (TOO) fair held at the Saint Catherine Academy Multi-Purpose Auditorium in Belize City on January 31 and President Sankat attended the opening of COBEC Winter Conference held at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza. President Sankat congratulated COBEC on its 30th Anniversary. He also took the opportunity to congratulate Assistant Provost Dr. Cynthia Thompson, who received a recognition award from COBEC as a founding officer of COBEC. The President assured Dr. Hodge of UB’s desire to engage with COBEC Member Institutions to create winning partnerships that support our development.

Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat, Dr. Cynthia Thompson, Dr. Emilia Hodge and Dr. Mariot Simon

Grand Valley State University visits UB

On February 6, 2018 Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat accompanied by Vice President Dr. Mariot Simon, and Mr. Ewart Robateau met with a delegation from the College of Health Professions, Grand Valley State University, United States. The delegation comprised of Julie Hall, Assistant Dean; Dr. Azizur Molla, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health; Chad Sutliffe, Allied Health Sciences Department Chair; Dr. Gianne Smith – Director of Social Work; and Rebecca Hambleton, Director of Study Abroad and International Partnerships. The meeting focused on partnering in Health Education, Sciences and Social Work. The visiting team met with leaders from our various faculties.

Polycom Installation competed in Belize City. Video Conferencing possible between Belmopan, Belize City and the world

The President is pleased to advise that the Polycom equipment is now fully installed at the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences (FMSS), Belize City Campus in the Doctoral Room. This equipment will facilitate live Video Conferencing between Belize City, Belmopan, and in fact the world. It has built in features to enhance video and audio quality thereby providing a better conferencing experience. Use of the equipment is under the control of Dr. Bernard Watler – Dean of FMSS and ICT in Belize City.

Let’s Build UB Together 

Installation of Solar LED Lights at UB Central Campus

A major component of the Transformation Plan for UB is effective cost cutting measures. Early last year a pilot project was conducted with the Faculty of Education in Belize City by changing all light fixtures both interior and exterior with LED bulbs and fixtures. This assisted with lower electricity consumption.

On Saturday, February 3, 2018, Professor Emeritus President Sankat joined members of the Physical Plant Department while they were installing
​ Solar LED light fixtures on the Belmopan Campus. 16 fixtures were installed along the walkway between the Administration Building Junction and the UB Book Store. These light fixtures are energy efficient, they come on at night and automatically cut off during the day. It also has a feature that utilizes 25% of its energy and increases to 100% when there is movement in close proximity to the poles to give added visibility. The lights were mounted on 12 feet poles and 24 feet apart to give adequate lighting.

8 Solar LED lights will be installed during the course of the week on the walkway between the pedestrian cross and the bus shed. In the next few weeks 28 additional lights will be installed to complete the walkway between the pedestrian crossing and bus shed, walkways from Jaguar Building to the Administration Building and walkways from the bookstore to both the Library and the front gate of the campus.

Additionally, the Physical Plant Department is currently doing repairs and replacement of existing lights on all buildings as well as existing poles on the Belmopan Campus. This is scheduled to be completed within the next few weeks.

Building a safer environment for our students

Presidential Update – January 2018

Meeting with Student Leaders of UB

Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat –President, Dr. Mariot Simon – Vice President, Dr. Jean Perriott – Dean of Student Affairs, Mrs. Rose Pineda – Registrar met with the executive members of the UB Student Governments. President Sankat welcomed the student leaders and offered all of them best wishes and continued success.  Discussions were focused on student concerns, notably students’ inability to pay their tuition and fees at the required deadline, which has now been extended to March 30, 2018.  Professor Sankat asked the SG leaders to encourage students to meet their obligations and to consider student loans from DFC as an option.  The next update was on Graduation Exercises that had been agreed to by SG for a Graduation Ceremony in PG on June 14 and one ceremony in Belize City on June 16 for Belmopan, Belize City and Central Farm campuses.  Students who have met graduation requirements are now able to apply for their official UB certificate prior to the Graduation Exercise.  President asked the SG to urge students to participate in the Graduation exercise even after receiving their certificates. SG members expressed ongoing concerns in their specific area including infrastructure, inadequate lighting, parking lots and cafeteria upgrades.  President reassured SG members that all of these are on his priority list, however they are welcome to work along with the Director of Physical Plant, Mr. Francis Burns, for assistance including other projects that SG would like to execute.  These include a Palapa in Belmopan and a cafeteria in PG.  President Sankat thanked all the student leaders for taking time out to attend the very productive and informative meeting.  He reminded them that UB is a Student Centered University and he will continue to work with them to improve student experience at The National University.

Meeting with Financial Institutions to support loans to students of UB

In an effort to provide relevant, affordable and accessible education to UB students and to ensure that students are able to meet their financial requirements, Professor Sankat, Dr. Simon and Mrs. Sherlene Julien – Director of Finance, have been meeting with financial institutions to encourage them to develop dedicated student loan facilities. One immediate option is the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) that has attractive student loan facilities. All students who would like to explore this option are invited to a presentation by DFC representatives at the Jaguar Auditorium on February 7 from 2:00pm -3:00pm.

Meeting with Chairs and Joint Board of the National Council of Education (NCE) & National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET)

President Sankat met with the Chairs of the NCE & NCTVET, key stakeholders of education and senior leadership of the Ministry of Education. President Sankat shared with these boards the Transformation Plan of UB. He fielded questions on how these plans will shape and improve the services and programs offered by UB. President Sankat emphasized the current challenges at UB especially that of finance and he asked the Joint Boards for their support of the University of Belize. This meeting demonstrated considerable goodwill for UB particularly in light of the thrust to move more to Bachelors and Graduate Degrees.

Meeting with Faculty Focus Group to treat with Faculty Contracts

Professor Sankat, Dr. Mariot Simon and Mrs. Hertha Gentle – Director of Human Resources met with the Faculty Focus Group in a follow up meeting to update and provide feedback on major HR topics including that of contracts for faculty. The President indicated that this was a pressing matter the he wants completed as soon as possible. The meeting was very constructive and a way forward with respect to Faculty Contracts for all is being finalized by HR for further review.

The India-Belize Center of Engineering Project (IBCE) – Visit to Georgetown Technical High School

Professor Sankat and Mr. Francis Burns visited the Georgetown Technical High School located in southern Belize to exam the facilities there. The main focus was to get a closer look at the Workshops that were funded by the European Union Project: This is to be used as a guide for the India-Belize Centre of Engineering (IBCE) project. A MOU was signed in December 2017 by the Government of Belize and the Government of India to execute a project which seeks to upgrade and modernize the existing workshops at the Department of Engineering in the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Belize. A new workshop will be constructed on the Belmopan Campus through this project.

Gift from Koop Sheet Metal

The University of Belize has participated in The La Ruta Maya River Challenge for many years. This year the Black Jaguar Intramural team have been practicing since October 2017. President Sankat was grateful to receive a check of $3,000 from Mr. Peter Koop from Koop Sheet Metal to assist with defraying expenses. The President expressed his appreciation to Mr. Koop and asked that he meet with the Spanish Lookout Business Community to build a partnership with UB.

Caribbean Food Crops Society meeting in Belize July

President Sankat met with the Chair and CEO of the Caribbean Food Crops Society, Dr. Wilfredo Colón to discuss the hosting by Belize of the upcoming annual meeting of CFCS scheduled for July 8 – 13th, 2018. This would be very beneficial to UB and to the entire country of Belize as Agricultural Research, innovation and best practices will be showcased. Members of Faculty of UB will be encouraged to present papers at this conference. The meeting will include stakeholders from the food, agricultural and business communities from Belize, the wider Caribbean Region and Central America. An update will be provided on this in the upcoming weeks.

Let’s Build UB Together

UB continues Stakeholder Consultations to Develop an Inclusive Watershed Management Plan for the Belize River

On December 19, 2017 at the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences (FMSS) Campus, in Belize City the President of UB, Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat was present to receive a drone from Mr. Mauricio Mejia, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) representative.

The drone that was purchased with project funds from WWF is a DJI Phantom 4 PRO. In addition, an Apple Ipad, was also purchased to be used for aerial surveys to collect data required for the management plan and for future research work at the UB.

This was a part of an ongoing stakeholder consultation through the Natural Resource Management Program from the Faculty of Science and Technology which started on October 13, 2017 at The Dream Valley Resort, to develop and inclusive watershed management plan for the Belize River. Thirty-three (33) participants representing twenty-one (21) organizations from the NGO, Government and Private Sector were present at the event. The opening ceremony included remarks by Dr. Mariot Simon, UB Vice President; Mr. Martin Alegria, CEO of the Department of Environment; Dr. Juan Carlos Rosito, Oficial de Hydrologia de WWF Guatemala; and Dr. Abel Carrias, Project Grant Administrator. The stakeholder consultation included a presentation by Mr. Antonio Cano, Project Coordinator, and was followed by a Stakeholder Mapping Survey and a Problem Tree Analysis Activity.

The stakeholder mapping survey revealed the willingness of eleven (11) organizations to share data pertaining to Land Use, Waterbody & Watershed Conditions, & Socioeconomic Conditions of communities within the watershed by the end of November to support the project. This survey also identified nine (9) additional organizations that should be included in future consultation and who should be contacted with regards to this project. The problem tree analysis identified the following salient issues for the Belize River Watershed: erosion, water pollution, biodiversity degradation, increasing uncontrolled human activity, human and species health threats, and lack of legislative enforcement.

The first stakeholder consultation meeting effectively introduced the project to stakeholders. Efforts are now ongoing to liaise with key stakeholders about obtaining pertinent data for the watershed.

Following the first stakeholder consultation meeting, two additional stakeholder consultation meetings were planned for the month of December. On December 19th and 20th, meetings were convened at the University of Belize campuses in Belize City and Belmopan respectively. These meetings were to consult with community leadership and Farmers. This includes village councils, town councils, water boards, cooperatives, small-scale and large-scale farmers and supporting entities such as the Rural Development Department.
Other equipment that will be purchased through WWF are a ysi 5500 photometer, a camera, and reagents for spectrophotometry. This equipment will greatly assist in the successful execution of the project, and will support further research and learning at the University of Belize.

President Sankat is grateful to Fultec Systems Ltd., The World Wildlife Fund and all partners that have helped the University of Belize on its Transformation Plan to execute on UB’s Mission Statement to a commitment to excellence in higher education, research and service for national development.

President Sankat says, “Christmas is a time of hope, for good cheer, for giving and for sharing, a time for the family and also a time for a well-deserved respite from the rigours of work. It is also a time for quiet reflection as we look to a new year. I therefore wish all or stakeholders an enjoyable holiday with your loved ones.”