From the President’s Desk – August – December 2020

The President’s Christmas Message

On this occasion, of Christmas 2020 and the end of the calendar year, let me express my best wishes to all of you for a happy but safe Holidays.  Please see Christmas card below and I wish to emphasize the message “As this tumultuous year 2020 comes to an end, a year like never witnessed before, Christmas is near and with this advent there is hope for all in 2021. May the new year bring good health, peace, love and contentment to all. Blessings to you and your family for the holidays”. I look forward to welcoming all of you back Faculty, Staff and Students in the first week of January 2021.  With the COVID pandemic still threating all of us, once more we have to be prepared for online teaching and learning with all our health and safety precautions in place for Faculty, Staff and Students.  Our Maintenance, Security and UB Central Farm will continue to provide essential services as maybe needed during the vacation.  Be safe and have a pleasant holiday! Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat

(Please listen to the President’s Christmas Message scheduled to be aired on Facebook on Thursday at 11 a.m. and also will be placed on our UB website.)

Congratulatory Messages to the New Prime Minister of Belize, Minister and Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology

On November 18, 2020, the President of the University of Belize, Professor Clement Sankat, sent his congratulatory messages to Belize’s new Prime Minister, and newly-appointed Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment, the Hon. John Briceño, and newly-appointed Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, the Hon. Francis Fonseca and the Minister of State in the Ministry, Dr. the Hon. Louis Zabaneh. On behalf of the University of Belize, the President expressed best wishes for the new Government and was looking forward to working especially with the Ministry of Education so as to support tertiary education in Belize in particular and education in general.

Changes at the level of the Board of Trustees

President Sankat also noted certain changes that have occurred at the level of the Board of Trustees and in this regard, sent to our former long-serving Chairman, Mr. G.A. Harrison Pilgrim, his thanks for his wise, thoughtful and selfless service to the University.  He also thanked those members of the Board who were leaving, while looking forward with anticipation to the new members of the Board of Trustees and also to those returning members. The university community will be kept informed on the developments on this matter.

Approved Teaching Load Policy for Semester II 2020-2021

At a meeting of the Senior Management of the University of Belize led by President Sankat and including the Deans and some Chairs, as well as the Registrar and the President and representatives of the UBFSU, agreement was reached on a teaching load policy for semester II of the academic year 2020-2021. This policy provides some flexibility for Faculty on the implementation of the 15 credit hours work load and relief where approved, for Faculty pursuing higher degrees and in their thesis stage, for example. Implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the Chairs and Deans with support from the Registrar and approval of the Vice President.

The University acceded to the request of the Ministry of Education to allow students who have not met their financial requirements to write final Exams

At the request of the Ministry of Education, President Sankat on behalf of UB, acceded on 30th November, 2020 to the above mentioned request.   This was meant to lend support to students facing difficult financial times brought about by the COVID pandemic.  This will no doubt have an effect on the University’s student receivables which as of 14th December, 2020 stood at

$290,378.78 for Semester I 2020 and reflective of 754 students.  We hope our students would work to clearing the outstanding balances before the start of the new semester.

UB Holds Historic Virtual Graduation Ceremony: The Year of Our 20th Anniversary and Airs a Complimentary Tribute

The University of Belize, Belize’s national and premier degree-granting University, hosted its Twenty-Seventh Commencement Ceremony on October 24th, 2020 via Channel 5. The University of Belize honored 1,192 Graduands at the Associate, Bachelor and Master levels.

The featured speaker was H.E. Nestor Mendez of the OAS and the former Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, brought greetings on the occasion of UB’s 20th anniversary. To compliment this historic virtual ceremony that was aired, a Tribute to our graduates was produced and aired on Channel 5 on December 12th, 2020.  The University of Belize sincerely thanks the producers of these programs at Channel 5.

UB Mourns the Death of former Dean of the FEA, Dr. Nestor Chan

On behalf of the University of Belize, its Board of Trustees and all its students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff and the President, we wish to extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Martha Chan, children Judith Rivas, Jocelyn Cassanova, Janel Chan and Nestor Chan Jr, and his family on the untimely passing of Dr. Chan on 30th October, 2020.  May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Dr. Chan was an outstanding leader of the Faculty of Education and Arts and was the immediate past Dean of the Faculty. He led this Faculty with distinction. His passing is not only a tremendous loss to our University but to the educational sector of Belize.

Engaging Our Political Leaders

The University in its outreach mission and in preparing for the National Elections, hosted the then Opposition Leader, the Hon. John Briceño and the Hon. Francis Fonseca on November 3, 2020 for an online forum with students, faculty and staff at the University of Belize and similarly on November 4, 2020 we hosted the UDP Party Leader, the Hon. Patrick Faber.  The University thanks the presenters for their engaging discussions with us and also thanks the various media houses for carrying these events live.

The President Presents at CSUCA Meeting

On November 16, 2020 the President of the University of Belize presented his report entitled “Challenges Faced at the University of Belize as a Result of the Covid-19 Pandemic” at a virtual meeting of CSUCA. He went into details about the process taken to go fully online in May and the challenges faced by the University with the decrease in subvention from the Government.  

He also advised that the pandemic continues in Belize with currently 4,861 confirmed cases

and 94 deaths and our medical facilities were challenged. The big challenge also is the collapse of the tourism economy, loss of jobs, etc. The future is therefore filled with uncertainty. Students are feeling the pinch as many cannot pay their tuition and fees and the expectation is we may lose as much as 20% of our students. So while we continue to deliver all our programs online, all our developmental initiatives like Medicine, Music, Archaeology, etc. are on hold.

He noted the difficult time for our University which was mainly shuttered, with no student activities etc. all, except for online classes, but we had to remain hopeful that the COVID-19 health problems will recede soon and importantly, that the economy of Belize rebounds to the benefit of all, including the University. He also remarked that we have to remain alert, manage on a daily basis, be creative and innovative at all times and be prepared for change.

UB Awards 20 Tuition Assistance Bursaries

The University of Belize is pleased to announce the award of 20 Tuition Assistance Bursary to deserving students currently enrolled in various academic programs.  This program of student support targets full time students, and supports them to meet their tuition expenses and can cover up to 25 % of the cost for tuition in any given semester.  The Covid-19 Pandemic has severely affected student enrollment at the University of Belize as well as student’s ability to meet necessary expenses. The University has taken several proactive steps to support education access during this difficult period such as, payment plans, deferrals, facilitation of student loans through the DFC, Endowment Fund Scholarships among others. 

This batch of Tuition Assistance marks the first support to deserving students under this program and the UB is hopeful to continue to provide this assistance to students throughout the academic year.  The University of Belize thanks the Government of Belize for the grant which made this support possible to students.

We wish to therefore congratulate the following students:

Name of Student                      Program of Study

  1. Duane Arzu                  Information Technology
  2. Drucilla Aguilar              Primary Education
  3. Luis Ayala                        Natural Resource Management
  4. Daniel Mangar             Business Science
  5. Ashley Perez                 Biology and Chemistry
  6. Nisa Sanchez                Architecture
  7. Shantel Augustine         Management
  8. Freddy Chable               Applied Agriculture
  9. Jermain Dominguez       Biology
  10. Melissa Elington           Primary Education
  11. Esther Galeano             Business Administration
  12. Kaitlyn Garcia               Nursing
  13. Edras Mijanos               Spanish Education
  14. Julio Noble                   Marine Biology
  15. Steven Palma                Information Technology
  16. Alejandro Pop               Mathematics Education
  17. Nella Requena               Business Administration
  18. Rhea Riverol                 Tourism Management
  19. Henry Teck                   Nursing
  20. Kaleah Rowland            Natural Resource Management              

Students who are interested in this program for the future may submit an application through the link below:

The UB and the DFC sign MOU to Increase Access to Education via Financial Loans

On August 28, 2020, the University of Belize (UB) and the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) enabling both institutions to increase the access to education for Belizean students at the University of Belize through financing of tuition and fee support and other expenses, from the DFC.

The DFC will serve as the primary financier in the implementation of the DFC-UB Loan Program consistent with DFC’s priority list of training. The MOU strengthens the working partnership between UB and DFC, creating mechanisms for the easier exchange of information required to meet the financial needs of the University’s students, so as to facilitate the expeditious processing of student loan applications.

The Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) closes off the PACT-UB Scholarship Programme 2017

The PACT-UB Scholarship Programme 2017’s overall objective was to support the national development goals of Belize, through the enrollment of five (5) professionals to complete bachelor degree programs at the University of Belize.

The program supported 5 students to complete their bachelor degrees in Mathematics, Social Work, Biology and Natural Resource Management. Their capacity was built through direct field experience preparing them for professional roles in the conservation sector. Three of the scholars had the opportunity to carry out their internship at PACT and partner institutions such as Ya’axché Conservation Trust and Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute; all with financial support from PACT. One of the scholars also obtained financial support for his independent research program which was presented at the 2019 UB’s Biology and Chemistry Symposium. All scholars have either obtained employment, are pursuing higher education or are volunteering.

UB a Member of Caribbean Planetary Health Regional Hub (CRH)

On August 12, 2020, UB became an official member of the Caribbean Planetary Health Regional Hub Steering Committee whose aim is to develop and build an active, collaborative, interdisciplinary planetary health community of practice to inspire and guide Caribbean people to tend and protect ecosystems with policies and programs for sustainable outcomes. The vision of CRH is to safeguard optimal health for the Caribbean where humans have a dominant influence on climate, health and the environment.  The University looks forward to working with CRH headquarters in Trinidad and Tobago in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI.

UB and Paradise Development Group signed MOU

The University of Belize and Paradise Development Group of Florida, United States on September 23, 2020 signed an MOU to Plan, Design and Develop a Sustainable Farming Project with Circularity and Sustainability (Size and scope to be determined).

This project proposal includes:

  1. High Tech Climate Resilient Indoor Organic Farms
  2. Outdoor Organic Farms (wherever possible)
  3. An Agri-Tech Research & Development Centre
  4. A Food Processing Plant
  5. Renewable Energy Sources (Solar, Waste to Energy Units)
  6. Student Dormitories
  7. An Agricultural Tourism Experience Center

The University is looking forward with anticipation to further developments on this matter from the Paradise Development Group.

UB Signs Agreement with Taiwan Sheep and Goat Project

On October 30, 2020 the University of Belize signed an agreement with the Taiwan Sheep and Goat Project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to provide 84 tons of corn silage for the period December 2020 to March 2021 through its University of Belize Central Farm Campus. The Central Farm Campus will supply 7 tons of silage per week for 12 weeks starting in December 2020.

There is potential to earn some income here but more importantly to gain knowledge on silage production for our intensive sheep and goat production at UBCF.

University of Belize and the University of Belize Faculty and Staff Union Sign Agreement

The Management of the University of Belize and the University of Belize Faculty and Staff Union (UBFSU) agreed on Friday, 11th September, 2020 to a number of measures to address the University’s financial shortfall in these challenging times. The agreement that was signed on Friday had the blessings of the Board of Trustees of the University of Belize.

The discussions, engagements and negotiations occurred over a period of three months including a meeting with the Ministry of Labor, chaired by the Hon. Minister of Labor. The agreement signed covers several areas that affect both the University and its employees including a tired cut in salaries from 22% to 5%, an increment freeze for the financial year, a Voluntary Separation Program, restructuring of certain areas of the University’s operations, especially those that have been closed through the pandemic or significantly contracted because of our mainly online teaching and reduced student numbers this academic year.  Other subsidiary areas agreed to include for example, the ability to work from home with a technology grant and an interest-free loan to eligible employees for the procurement of internet access and a computer/laptop, respectively, to facilitate this.

The University and the UBFSU agreed that in six months’ time the state of the University’s finances will be reviewed with a view to examining the feasibility of returning salaries to or near to their previous levels. The parties also agreed to continue to communicate and to work collaboratively to ensure that the University of Belize and all of its constituents can weather this difficult period brought about by the pandemic and the cut in the University’s subvention and income from students. The parties also thank the Ministry of Labor for facilitating our initial discussion and the University’s employees for their understanding of our situation.

University of Belize Faculty and Staff Union Receives Trade Union Certification

On July 13, 2020 the University of Belize Faculty and Staff Union was certified as the Bargaining Agent for employees of the (i) Full-time Faculty and Staff and (ii) Faculty and Staff on Temporary Assignment, where employment has been for two consecutive twelve-month contracts.

The President extends his congratulations to the Union and looks forward to having a fruitful mutually beneficial relationship with the Union.

Happy 20th Anniversary UB!

The University of Belize celebrated a milestone as the national tertiary institution serving Belize and contributing to Belize’s development and workforce. Speeches were made by the Chairman of the Board – Mr. G.A. Harrison Pilgrim, CEO of the Ministry of Education – Mrs. Deborah Domingo, the immediate past President of the Association of Student Governments – Mr. Jalen Good and President Sankat. It was hosted by the Vice President – Dr. Mariot Simon. During our 20 years of existence, we have trained and graduated over 15,000 students. The University’s main goal is its commitment to excellence in higher education, research and service to Belize’s national development. The University of Belize celebrated its 20th Anniversary virtually due to the Covid19 Pandemic.

To view the virtual ceremony kindly click the link below:

UB Goes Fully Online for the 2020-1 Semester

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the decision to go fully online was taken and classes began on August 17, 2020 using the Moodle platform, supplemented by Zoom and Google Classroom – all under the guidance of ODL and ICT. Final examinations were held online during the period December 2 – 8, 2020 with the expectation that grades will be released on December 18, 2020.

President Sankat Presents to Pepperdine University Graduate Students

President Sankat had the pleasure of addressing the Graduate students from Pepperdine University at Malibu, California, U.S.A. President Sankat discussed “an Overview of Tourism, Agriculture and Education in Belize” where he discussed the effects tourism has on the Belizean economy, a snapshot of Agriculture in Belize, an analysis of Education in Belize and the University of Belize. He answered many questions from students who are looking forward to visiting Belize. If you would like to read more about this information presentation, please find link:

UB to Graduate 600 Students for Semester 2019-II

The University of Belize announced that 600 students from Semester II Cohort have been approved for graduation by the Board of Trustees of UB at their meeting held on 29th July, 2020. The Board expressed its pleasure, that despite the challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic resulting in the near physical lock down of the University and the proactive response of UB with online teaching and learning modality to ensure that this large number of students met the requirements for graduation. The Board congratulated the students, faculty, staff and administrators of UB for their support of these students through their leadership and creativity under difficult circumstances.  Also of note is that for the very first time, the University produced more graduates at the Bachelors level (281) compared to graduates at the Associates level (241).  This is a major directional change as the University advances on its Transformation Plan.  The graduates come from all parts of Belize; 341 from our Belmopan Campus, 167 from our Belize City Campus, 53 from our Punta Gorda Campus, 26 from our Central Farm Campus and 12 from our outreach location in Corozal Town.  Again, like previous years, the vast majority of graduates are females with 18% of completing their requirements with honors.

The University is actively planning for its graduation ceremonies in Punta Gorda and in Belize City scheduled for the month of October 2020 and our graduates and their parents would be informed as soon as arrangements have been confirmed in this challenging time of maintaining hygiene etiquette. The Board of Trustees, the Management, Faculty and Staff of the University extend its sincere congratulations to our successful graduating students.

Voices from the Field: Elma Kay, Ph.D., of the University of Belize Environmental Research Institute

UB’s Dr. Elma Kay was featured in the Voices from the Field.  Voices from the Field is a series that focuses on the behind-the-scenes look into the conservation efforts of field teams and partners around the world.

Dr. Kay is the Science Director for the Sustainable Landscapes Program at the University of Belize Environmental Research Institute (UB-ERI). The UB-ERI, inaugurated in January 2010, was created primarily to address the large gap in local capacity for research and monitoring that exists within Belize.

To read the written interview please view link below:­LjSAXnKpC9WrUq7x3kZgzzR3FMyvDd_RDq-x5A6VvInDX3kCP0

Study Abroad Reflection…The Valladolid Experience

Two students from the University of Belize were awarded a semester abroad grant under the Erasmus+ program where they spent a semester at the University of Valladolid.  Here is a special feature of Abdias De Paz’s reflection on his experience at Valladolid.

Many times, coming out of our comfort zone is scary, especially when completing our university years. Many students do not want to do more than is required of them or become complacent with doing just enough, not aiming to go that extra mile. As students, we want to simply follow the same routine: class, friends, home, procrastinate, sleep. We all have procrastinated at some point, right? It is just part of the experience being in a university setting.

Given this fact, I am grateful for some opportunities provided at the University of Belize to motivate its students. UB, in my experience, seeks to provide various opportunities for its students to not only grow academically, but also professionally in order to be able to compete in this ever-changing world. One of those ways is through student exchange programs. I was privileged to go on a second study abroad program to Spain via UB from February to July of this year. My first experience was in 2018. Being away from home is never easy, and when there is a pandemic out, it is even more troubling and difficult. Being locked up for almost three months seemed never ending. There were times when I just wanted to be home and away from all the chaos, but I constantly reminded myself that I was there with a purpose: to complete my studies and make both my country and university proud. And it was so, I successfully completed the semester with high marks. Scripture also kept me going through these times, particularly what Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” That assurance was all that I needed to keep pressing forward.

Putting the pandemic aside, both experiences abroad were excellent since I got to learn more about people from different cultures and also took part in different social functions, before and after the lockdown. I also got to travel to many cities in Spain and neighboring countries and learnt about the many historical monuments, artefacts, museums, and the way these people live life. The exposure and knowledge gained in study abroad programs like this one is indescribable. You simply have to live it! There is no YouTube video, journal entry or blog that can make you get the full experience. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I received and highly recommend UB students to take advantage of opportunities like these as well, keeping in mind that you are going there to work hard to keep the name of Belize and UB on high! As we continue to experience the effects of this pandemic, I urge all UB students to continue striving for success and to focus on what matters most. In the end, the benefits that you will reap will be for a brighter future for yourself and your loved ones. Sow wisely! Go Jaguars!

Reflection from Abdias De Paz.

UB Steel Pans Completed and Being Shipped to Belize

President Sankat recently inspected steel pans ordered from Panland, Trinidad through a generous donation from Belize Bank.  The pans are being shipped to Belize while the percussion equipment for the Band – UB Steel, have been received already.

COVID-19 Prevention and Accommodating Students at the PG Campus for the New School Year 2020-21

Amidst the uncertainty about whether online classes at UB for the academic year 2020 – 2021 would have commenced on August 17, 2020, the Punta Gorda Campus staff remained focused on our efforts to accommodate stakeholders residing in southern Belize. Our support staff from the various departments including, Physical Plant, Information Communication & Technology, Public Safety, Accounts and Records/Admissions, joined forces with the Campus Administrator and Academic Chair in rendering services to the students and visitors who frequented the offices with their queries, concerns and requests. We have also implemented and continue to put into practice, the COVID-19 prevention measures/guidelines along with monitoring systems to ensure that these guidelines are adhered to by all when present on Campus.

Hand sanitizers and liquid soaps are readily available. Signage for mandatory wearing of facemasks and washing of hands are posted. The two additional handwashing facilities installed by the Physical Plant Department at strategic locations are proving very useful. Whether standing in line to make payments at the accounts office or accessing internet/Wi-Fi services at the computer labs, provisions to support physical distancing are presently in place at clearly marked, designated spots according to the layout plan we had developed and piloted during the summer of 2020.

Students, especially those coming from villages of rural Toledo, continue to use the computer lab services and the small sheds outdoors on campus to complete assignments/projects while adhering to the COVID-19 prevention guidelines. And while it has not been crowded since the lockdown, we’ve consistently been getting between 5-12 students on campus at any given time, with a total number ranging from 25 -50 students per day, especially on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays.

A sanitization protocol also remains in place for the offices, computer labs, and for all persons to follow upon entering the Campus. The Maintenance – House Keeping and Building Maintenance personnel carry out the sanitization work required inside the buildings. The Campus Security Officer on duty asks everyone visiting the Campus to sanitize or wash his/her hands and to sign the log book at the entrance of the Administration Building. These officers also monitor and enforce compliance. The Campus Administrator or his designate, the Academic Chair supervises the process. 

Finally, all staff are also advised by administration to keep looking out for each other’s health, well-being and safety, and to report any evidence of non-compliance by students, visitors or fellow UB employees. From the Campus Administration Mr. R. Polonio