My dear colleagues, I am pleased to report to you on a number of important matters pertaining to the operations of our University and these are shared below. I am very heartened with the smooth start of this Semester with respect to online teaching and learning using the Moodle platform and this comes from all the reports that I have received. I want to commend Faculty and our students, together with our Administrators and my hope is that we will see this semester and the academic year to a successful end despite all the challenges that have arisen from COVID-19. I will continue to stay in touch with you on important matters that are occurring or impacting on our University.
Professor Clement Sankat, President
February 6, 2021
Our New and Returning Board Members
Further to my communication on February 2, 2021, I am pleased to share with you a fuller description of all our Board of Trustees, both new and returning members. Once more, I congratulate them on their appointment and to thank the Hon. Minister of Education, Culture, Science & Technology, Hon. Francis Fonseca, for naming Board Members that bring a wealth of professional, business and governmental experiences to provide direction and leadership to the University of Belize. Of course, I am heartened that there is a blend of new and returning Board members to serve us. The full listing of our Board is given below.
The Board met for the first time on January 22, 2021, where Mr Sylvestre was elected as Chairman and Major Jones was elected as Vice Chairman.
President Sankat Speaks at the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago’s (ACTT’s) Forum, and at the 32nd COBEC Winter Conference
The President engaged on a panel discussion mounted by the ACTT on January 8, 2021, and addressed the issue of “Leading Tertiary Education Institutional Capacity Building through a Time of Crisis”. In a similar vein, the President also spoke at the 32nd COBEC Winter Conference on February 4, 2021 on the subject “Navigating the Crisis of the Pandemic, University of Belize – Lessons learned and projecting the immediate future.” The text of this presentation will be uploaded shortly to our UB website. Both conferences were held virtually.
The India Belize Center for Engineering
Our Belmopan Campus (UB) received a very short visit from the High Commissioner of India to Belize, based in Mexico City, Ambassador Manpreet Vohra. He was accompanied by the Honorary Council for India to Belize, Mr Arun Hotchandani. Mr Francis Burns, our Director of Physical Plant, Projects and Facilities and our Director of Institutional Advancement, Mr Arnulfo Kantun, gave them a brief tour of the facilities and all the work that we have done to bring this engineering laboratory/workshop to a near completion. The final phase of the project involves training the trainers in Belize, from our Engineering Faculty and other institutions. However, this will only be achieved when the pandemic eases so that the facilitators can travel from India.
Congratulations to Mr Danladi Husaini on Completing the Requirements for his Ph.D.
We have just been informed that Mr Danladi Chiroma Husaini, Senior Lecturer of the Pharmacy program, from the Faculty of Health Sciences, has completed the requirements for his Ph.D. degree in Public Health from the University of South Africa (UNISA), which is to be awarded. The title of his thesis was “Guidelines on the Use of Indigenous-Western Anti-hypertensive Therapies in Belize”. This was accepted on the 25th of January, 2021. All of us join in congratulating Mr Husaini on this fine achievement and we expect that his degree will be formally conferred shortly. Sincere congratulations.
UB Welcomes New Quality Assurance Director, Dr Marcia Commissiong
I am very pleased to advise that Dr Marcia Commisiong, who was appointed as the Director of Quality Assurance some time ago, was finally able to travel from Jamaica and has arrived safely in Belmopan. Dr Commisiong is currently in self-quarantine but has already begun to engage with relevant leaders to familiarize herself with the state of Quality Assurance at our University. I look to your welcome and support of our Director as we continue on this important task of building quality in our academic environment at UB such that we can move to seeking accreditation within the next couple of years. Dr Commisiong brings to UB considerable Caribbean experiences in the areas of Quality Assurance and Accreditation, as can be seen in her profile below.
Dr Marcia Commissiong has had a very diverse working experience in the public sector spanning more than 30 years and over 18 years as a quality assurance professional in higher education. In addition to quality assurance, Marcia’s areas of expertise include institutional and programme accreditation, systems and process management, teaching of adult learners, and the physical sciences (Chemistry).
Marcia’s passion for quality assurance and accreditation has been evident in her former positions of Accreditation Officer at the University Council of Jamaica, and Manager, Quality Assurance at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). At the University Council of Jamaica, Marcia provided technical support towards the improvement of institutional management and programme offerings at higher education institutions through a registration and accreditation process. At the UTT, Marcia was responsible for monitoring and evaluating quality assurance processes against standards for registration and accreditation and assisted with the preparation of the institution’s self-study document. Marcia was also responsible for ensuring that the quality management system (QMS) was responsive to the needs of stakeholders and developed methods that measured the performance of the QMS.
Marcia holds a PhD in Education specializing in Learning, Instruction, and Innovation from Walden University and her research explored student engagement, self-regulation, satisfaction, and success in online learning environments. She also taught Organic Chemistry for six years as an adjunct faculty member at the college level. Marcia has delivered two webinars for members of the Caribbean Area Network for Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education entitled “Enhancing Quality and Accountability through Quality Audits and Facilities Reviews” and “Lessons Learned: Teaching in Blended and Online Learning Environments”. Recently, she facilitated two cohorts of the Commonwealth of Learning’s course on Quality Assurance in Blended Learning for the Caribbean Higher Education Context.
Marcia’s hobbies include playing the piano and listening to classical and contemporary music, reading, mentoring young persons, and watching sporting activities particularly track and field events.
Dr Commisiong will report directly to the Vice President and her office is located on the ground floor of the main Administration building. She can be reached at 822-1000 ext. 211/214.
The President and Senior Managers Congratulate the New UBFSU Executive
We were very pleased to be informed that the UBFSU has elected a new Executive, as shown below:
The Administration looks forward to working with our colleagues on this new executive and we wish them success in their term in office. At the same time, as President, I wish to thank the former executive, led by Dr Pio Saqui, for their work and achievements during their term in office, and especially in having the UBFSU officially recognized as a union and the Agreement forged with the University to treat with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meeting with Student Leaders
The President and Senior Managers, including our Director of Open Distance and Learning – Dr. Freida Palma, ICT Director – Mr. Abdulaziz Sanderson, Registrar – Mrs. Rose Pineda, and Dean of Student Affairs – Dr. Martin Cuellar, met with the Student Government leaders, Mr. Steve Good and Kimberly Young from the Belize City Campus; Indira Coleman, Cindy Salam and Macklovio Ack from the Punta Gorda Campus; and Kelsey Coc and Jocelyne Chun from the Belmopan Campus on February 2, 2021. The meeting received a report from each of the student leaders on their experiences since the beginning of this semester. It was heartening to hear from our student leaders that our teaching and learning “online” has gotten off to a much improved start compared to the challenges of last semester. And once more, I thank all our Faculty and Administrative support for ensuring this and look forward to its strengthening as the semester progresses. If there was one concern expressed from our student leaders then this had to do with more responsive and timely feedback to any queries that they may have posed. The student leaders were happy with the start and especially with the performance of the Moodle LMS (Learning Management System) platform. The President applauded the students for their special initiative of making scholarships available to deserving students of UB.