UB Hosts Twenty-Sixth Commencement Ceremony
UB hosted two successful graduation ceremonies in Belize City and in Punta Gorda, featuring commencement speeches by Dr. Richard A. Carvajal – the President of Valdosta State University and Mrs. Marie Sharp – Owner of Marie Sharp Fine Foods, respectively. Not only did the University confer diplomas, certificates and degrees to its largest graduating body but also, it conferred sixteen (16) MBA Degrees to its first cohort of graduate students, its first Honorary Doctoral Degree to Belize’s Governor General, His Excellency, Sir Colville Young, in recognition of his outstanding public service to Belize and it awarded the Oak Foundation of Switzerland with its inaugural Outstanding Philanthropy Award in recognition for their significant contribution to the University. The University also recognized our recently departed students, Kevin, Masaki, Jessica and Dwayne, with posthumous awards.
The President expressed his sincere thank-you to the many staff who contributed to its success and to once again congratulate all our graduates on reaching this milestone. The University is incredibly proud of each of you and we wish you all the best in all your future endeavors!
GOB Increases UB Subvention by 1 Million Dollars
The Government of Belize, in its recent budget, increased its subvention to the National University of Belize by One (1) Million Dollars per annum. The University has not seen an increase in its contribution from the Government in more than a decade and as such, this increase can be seen as a major step towards our advancement.
This increase is greatly appreciated as it will not only assist in our efforts to reduce the University’s budgetary deficits, but also, it will allow us to continue on the journey of our transformational plan.
On behalf of the University of Belize, its Students, Faculty and Staff, the President of the University, Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat wishes to thank the Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Education, for their steady support of Belize’s National University and looks forward to their continued partnership.
UB Launches Master in Philosophy (M. Phil) Degree
The University launched its Master of Philosophy (M. Phil) Program. This M. Phil program is a research-based program focused on knowledge creation and application without being limited by disciplinary boundaries and is being offered through all Faculties and Institutes of the University.
It represents a major step forward to enhance research and development work at the University and in its various departments. The President of the University would like to thank Professor Thippi Thiagarajan and the members of the University’s Graduate Research Committee for their excellent effort to bring this program to fruition for the new academic year.
The Master of Philosophy will commence in August 2019 and is geared towards exceptional research-driven individuals who are independent thinkers and highly motivated.
UB Early Childhood Stimulation Centre 14th Moving On Ceremony – 32 Children
UB’s Early Childhood Stimulation Centre held its 14th Graduation Ceremony on Thursday, June 27th, 2019 at the UB Jaguar Auditorium. Like all graduations, the event started with the toddlers marching down the isles in their purple and yellow gowns and caps to take their seats before a colourfully-decorated room filled with parents, guardians, family and friends. The ceremony was hosted by the Cayo District’s Educational Officer within the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Gwen Nunez- Gonzalez, who entertained the audience and allowed for an easy flow of the ceremony.
As expected, the pre-schoolers were excited and throughout the ceremony performed a variety of songs and poems that brought smiles and tears to those who were present. In addition to the graduates receiving their pre-school certificate, parents of the students were also presented with certificates of appreciation for their support, effort and motivation that contributed to the successful completion of their child’s pre-school. A total of 32 students graduated from UB’s Early Childhood Stimulation Centre – fifteen (15) boys and seventeen (17) girls.
On behalf of the University of Belize, Professor Emeritus – Clement Sankat, UB’s President, congratulates the School and the shepherding of the young ones and hopes that each child will continue to be nurtured with knowledge, values and dedication as they continue their education.
President’s Conference Centre
Progress is being made with this lovely building that is expected to be fully ready for new academic year.
UB constructs a new classroom in PG with help from BDF
This new classroom replaces the old barrack building that was demolished. It is being built under the supervision of Mr. Francis Burns of the University’s Physical Plant Department. Through his efforts as the Campus Administrator, Mr. Roy Polonio, the BDF agreed to donate free labour for this effort to enhance our PG campus. It is expected to be completed in time for the new academic year.
Despite the financial challenges, the University continues to make creative efforts to lift the PG campus.
Agreement between UB and SAVEMAR
Complementing its partnership with National Oceanography Centre (NOC), UB partnered with Save- Mar, to facilitate the University in managing its Marine Science Research Facility on Hunting Caye. UB – SAVEMAR lease agreement signing ceremony was held on Friday May 31st, 2019 at UB-PG Campus. Several invited guest from NGO’s and Government departments as well as some members from PG Advisory Council witnessed the signing ceremony.
In this capacity, Save-Mar will develop UB’s outreach facility into a first-class marine research station, where UB students, faculty, local as well as International Researchers will be given access and will be able to gain practical, hands-on training for sustainable marine practices and management; an intimate understanding of the natural marine processes that support our fishers and our economy and propel regional conservation efforts and sustainable use of our natural resources.
UB and Valdosta State University Strengthen ties
President Sankat met with Dr. Richard Carvajal – President of Valdosta State University. The meeting reflected on the long standing relationship between Valdosta and Belize, including the UB through COBEC.
Both Presidents agreed to focus on a few defined areas of collaboration in the immediate future, particularly as they relate to Early Childhood Education and Music Education.
Beautification Committee Continues to Plant Trees at the Belmopan Campus
Through the President’s Advisory University Beautification Committee (PAUBC) efforts this year so far, more than 200 plants were planted in the Belmopan Campus. Fruit trees, hardwoods, spice plants, palms and pine trees were added to the plant diversity of the Belmopan Campus. This would not have been possible without the countless hours of volunteer labor provided by students especially from Biology and Natural Resources Management (NRM) program, students and staff on tuition waiver, student clubs such as UB Environmental Club and IFSA (International Forestry Students Association) and Faculty members from various Depts. These plants were watered and maintained by a zealous crew of volunteers without whose efforts many of the plants would not have survived.
In addition, a special thanks to the first UB Beautification Club (UBBC) whose focus was to promote one of the world’s greatest researched air filter plant – the Sansevieria. Their efforts resulted in UB community obtaining Sansevieria plants for their offices and even for their homes. Our Jaguar Auditorium now hosts and boosts ten (10) potted, flourishing highly, scented Sansevieria plants
The UB Beautification Committee members, Dr. Latha Thomas (Chair), Ms. Isabel Bennett and Ms. Kimberly Stewart would therefore like to sincerely thank all the volunteers for their hard work and passion to transform this campus and our workstations into green havens that UB family and the community can enjoy. A heart-felt thanks is also due to the Physical Plant Dept. for their continued assistance in the beautification efforts. The Committee welcomes everyone who would like to learn, share ideas and be part of the UB beautification efforts. Come join us in the joys of planting to continue transform our next home – our UB campus.
Delegation from Romania Visits UB
A high level delegate from Romania led by the Dean of the College of Rectors visited the University with the view to developing a collaborative partnership with UB in support of Belize’s education thrust. The meeting reviewed the strengths of Romanian universities. Particularly, noteworthy were their programs in Medicine/Health, Energy, Agriculture and the Creative Arts. The Romanians expressed their willingness to receive UB Faculty and Staff so as to upgrade their qualification.
The UB will follow up on building a relationship through our Office of Institutional Advancement.
A New Research Publication – Self-Medication Practices Among College Students in Belize: A Nationwide Cross Sectional Study
Danladi Chiroma Husaini*, David Datiba Mphuthi, Yusuf Abubakar and Augustine Domingo
Background: With increased access to information and advertisements via the internet, college students are likely to be involved in self-medication practices that may result in increased resistance to antibiotics, adverse drug reactions, interactions and or other complications associated with self-medication. A self-reported assessment was conducted on self-medication among college students in Belize with a view to provide a baseline data on the knowledge and practices of self-medication and evaluate the reasons for self-medication among young people in the country of Belize.
The complete research publication can be found at – http://www.wjpr.net/dashboard/abstract_id/12388
FST Lecturer Dr. Latha Thomas Publishes Articles on Dung Beetles
Dr. Latha Thomas, Assistant Professor in FST published seven articles for the International Peer Reviewed Journals and contributed to a book chapter this academic year. Dr. Thomas has been working on dung beetles of Belize since 2010 and has collected beetles from nine sites including seven protected areas. Dung beetles are widely used as biological indicators to study effects of habitat modifications on mammal abundance and diversity as they feed on mammalian dung. The study contributes to biodiversity inventory of Belize and new species list for the country, and assists in understanding the consequence of landscape modification on abundance and diversity of mammals in a habitat. Such biodiversity inventory studies are very significant, in the light of the new Global Assessment Report released in May 2019 which stated that around 1 million animal and plant species may face extinction in the coming years; some of the species may even become extinct before they are discovered.
Bachelor Biology students actively participates in the research as part of the Independent Research course work and thesis. She has also worked on dung beetles in the global biodiversity hotspot, the South Western Ghats in the Indian Subcontinent and has discovered three new species in the course of her research.
The President congratulates Dr. Thomas on her research efforts as well as her stellar contribution to the beautification of our campus.
UB meets with San Pedro Junior College
The President met with the Dean of the San Pedro Junior College. In welcoming them, the President restated his desire for UB to have a presence in San Pedro through this College. The meeting heard on past engagements of FMSS in San Pedro and agreed to a new beginning starting this new academic year. Areas of collaboration would be delivering programs in general management, tourism management and in education so as to upgrade the skills for current school teachers in San Pedro.
RF&G Insurance Wins the Tender for Providing Coverage for our Physical Assets
After a complete re-evaluation of the assets of UB, the University embarked on a rigorous process to select an approved insurance company to provide insurance coverage for the University’s assets – with this managed by the Director of Finance.
The University is pleased to report the completion of this process, and the President welcomed the successful company, RF&G, to the Campus.
MOU with National Oceanography Centre
The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and University of Belize (UB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the 30th of May, 2019. This partnership will see the two institutions develop joint training, research projects and technical programs to enable knowledge transfer and research collaboration focused on marine science.
Marine Science plays a critical role in delivering improved outcomes in terms of the sustainable use of clean energy, minerals and other resources, protecting people and property from natural disasters, wealth creation, environmental protection and sustainability, and enhancing the quality of life for the people. Therefore, the collaboration between the NOC and UB will focus on both marine technologies and expertise, as well as scientific knowledge on coastal protection, water quality, sustainable environmental practices and will address some of Belize’s current marine challenges, including sustainable management of marine resources and marine pollution.
Robotics Short Course for High School Students
As a part of the on-going outreach of Information Technology faculty to primary and secondary school students, to increase students’ computing competencies and interest in information technology; a short course entitled “Robotics: Starting from Scratch” was held from May 20 to May 29, 2019, at the Belmopan Methodist High School. The objective of the course was to enhance the computational thinking skills and capture the imagination, of the high school students through interactive sessions where the students learnt to build and program the mBot Land Raider robot. Using the mBlock coding interface which is specially designed to support STEAM education, the Visual Programming Language (VPL), SCRATCH, was used by the students to create blocked-based programs that allowed them to control the: movement, lights, sounds, and sensors of their robots. The participants of the course were fourteen students selected from the three first form classes of the High School, and the sessions facilitators were seven Information Technology lecturers and one Physics lecturer from the Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Information Technology. Teams of two were formed from the selected students, and each team was assigned a faculty facilitator who provided dedicated guidance and support with the building and programming of the team robot. Overall, the short course was a success, evident not only by the successful completion of each session by the student teams but also by the numerous questions, and eager and excited participation, of the young explorers.
As in similar short courses previously delivered by the Information Technology faculty, upon completion of the course, the fourteen students were thrilled to receive their completion certificates from the University of Belize.
The Algorithms students of the Bachelor in Information Technology program also experimented with Robotics. They applied the knowledge learned in the classroom and programmed the Robot so that it can find its way in a maze without human aid.
UB-FST Study Abroad Program
The University of Belize through its Faculty of Science and Technology conducted a study abroad program in Tropical Field Ecology on May 23rd –June 4th 2019 for visiting students from abroad. The study abroad cohort hosted was from Louis Strokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and their visit to the University of Belize was made possible through a grant received from the National Science Foundation. During their visit to Belize, the students were immersed in research projects at the University of Belize in various areas of interest such as:
1. Taxonomy and ecology of Scarabaeinae dung beetles
2. Using GIS technologies to Assess anthropogenic impacts of Mount Pleasant Creek
3. Identifying wells within 66 feet of the Mount Pleasant Creek and assessing its microbial quality.
4. Assessing chemical, physical and microbial water quality at the Billy Barquedier National Park.
At the end of their program, visiting students presented their research findings and demonstrated their understanding of the scientific process. We congratulate the various faculty members that worked along with the students namely: Dr. Santos Chicas, Dr. Latha Thomas, Ms. Cecy Castillo, Ms. Karen Bautista, Mr. Josue Ake, and Mr. Eduardo Barrientos.
2018-2 Natural Resource Management Program partners with the CCCCC
The Natural Resource Management Program is pleased to have partnered with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in the planning and delivery of this semester’s Environmental Seminar course. A special recognition is given to the CCCCC for not only accepting our invite into the classroom but for offering to plan and deliver seven (7) lecture series this semester. Students were introduced to national, regional and international topics being discussed in the realm of climate change. This year’s session ended with a debate session hosted by the CCCCC. The Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Ms. Juliane Pasos, along with the lecturer, Ms. Cecy Castillo thanked the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre for being enthusiastically involved in the education of our young Belizeans.
UNICEF and UB Meeting – Be part of U Report
Representatives from UNICEF and the Department of Youth Services met with University Faculty and Staff on May 31st, 2019 to discuss partnership for UNICEF’s mobile based platform, U-Report. U-report is a free SMS social monitoring tool for community participation, designed to address issues and challenges affecting the community and to give young people, especially, a space to voice their opinions on issues that pertain to them. The data gathered via this medium will then be used to influence program designs, policy making and advocacy in Belize.
Therefore, not only will UB students be able to participate in the various initiatives of the U-Report, once registered, the University will also benefit from this partnership as the platform will be used to gather data and conduct surveys and polls from the platform’s members on various research initiatives being conducted by University Faculty and staff.
UB Hosts High School Students as Interns
The University of Belize hosted 5 students from Sacred Heart College to gain work experience from June 17th to 28th, 2019. The students were oriented to the operations of the University and based on their areas of interest were placed in the various departments where they were involved in filing, scanning documents, answering phone calls, and interacting with clients. The experience and exposure provided the opportunity for each student to gain skills such as interpersonal communication, time-management, and team-work.
The students were placed at the Faculty of Management & Social Sciences, Faculty of Education and Education, The Admissions Office and Records Department.
UB Hosts Music Workshop
The University of Belize hosted the Jacob Kelberman Quartet on the 12th of June for an evening of jazz in the Jaguar Auditorium. This first event (of a two-part music program recruitment series) was made possible in part by a grant from the Juilliard George J. Jakab Global Enrichment Grants Program. Prospective music students, music teachers, instrumentalists, and other music enthusiasts attended the workshop featuring musicians out of the Julliard Jazz School.
The Jacob Kelberman quartet performed some jazz standards as well as original compositions after holding an “open rehearsal” in which the audience was able to view the process of preparing material for performance. They demonstrated practical approaches to jazz, and jazz appreciation, and graciously entertained questions from the audience.
Attendees to the performance and the workshop were invited to respond to a short survey documenting interest in UB’s forthcoming Music Program. The enthusiastic audience, who described the quartet’s performance as “breath-taking” and “amazing”, asked for more such public performances at the University of Belize.
The second event in the series is slated for January 2020 and will feature concert performances, lectures, and master-classes by visiting professors of music.
President meets with BELTRAIDE Executive Director
President Sankat met with Dr. Leroy Almendarez and Ms. Monique Usher of BELTRAIDE on June 19, 2019. They discussed the partnership already established between the two organizations, through FMSS. Of particular importance was the proposed building to be erected at the FMSS campus by BELTRAIDE – one that will support the training of students in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Workplace Safety and Security
The University’s Office of Public Safety, as part of its Campus Safety Awareness Campaign, which seeks to raise awareness and promote safety for our staff member and students on campus, conducted a presentation on Workplace Safety and Security at the Jaguar Auditorium in Belmopan on Friday, June 28th, 2019.
This presentation focused primarily on preventative information and useful tools that provides guidance and encourage personal responsibility for UB Faculty and staff. Its aim was to ensure all faculty and staff have the necessary information, and consciousness that will enable them to make safe choices with regards to their security on and off the campus. The presentation included topics that dealt with:
1. Understand your campus’s crime and surrounding.
2. Familiarize yourself with your Campus’s Public Safety office.
3. Learn how to defend yourself.
4. Know where you’re going
5. Workplace Violence.
The President reminded everyone – safety is everyone’s business.
UNCHR ESL Level 2 Closing Ceremony
The Regional Language Center conducted an awarding ceremony on Monday, July 1st, 2019 in honour of 23 students who completed the first UNHCR/ UB English as a Second Language Certificate program. This course aimed to offer English as a Second Language classes to newly arrived migrants to Belize giving them an opportunity to demolish the language barrier that hinders non-English speaking migrants under refugee status to incorporate with greater ease as productive members of Belizean Society.
Attending the Ceremony were Mr. Emad Daoud, UNHCR Protection Officer, The UNHCR Director and representatives from Help For Progress LTD and along with the student’s family members that came to witness the ceremony. The ceremony was led by the students, with the highest ranking student giving the welcome address and two second highest marking students giving the vote of thanks and closing remarks. The ceremony was held in high spirits and a resounding genuine interest for a continued partnership between UNHCR and the RLC as expressed by the UNHCR Protection officer. We congratulate all the awarded students and wish them well in their future endeavours.