In a ceremony filled with academic regalia and pomp, and in the very historic St. John’s Anglican Cathedral of Belize, Professor Clement Sankat, formerly Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal of the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Trinidad, was installed by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Belize (UB), Mr. Harrison Pilgrim as the Seventh President. President Sankat was robed in his new academic gown by the Governor General of Belize, Sir Colville Young. The ceremony was blessed by the presence of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Belize, the Rt. Rev. Philip S. Wright and among the other dignitaries present including the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Immigration, Senator Hon. Godwin Hulse, who brought congratulations from the Government of Belize, other members of parliament, Mayor and Councillors, Ambassadors, Heads of Institutes and representatives of the UWI, representatives of the students, the staff, the alumni, the business, the international community and the professions who brought greetings and tributes. Mrs. Deborah Domingo, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education brought greetings on behalf of the Honorable Patrick Faber. Mr. Harrison Pilgrim, Chairman, spoke glowingly on the training, experiences, leadership and values Professor Sankat brings to the University of Belize and therefore the expectations of this young University to grow and thrive.
Professor Sankat in front of a full historic Cathedral addressed the installation ceremony and after expressing his gratitude to the Board of Trustees of UB and the Government of Belize, he spoke of his vision for this National University of Belize and his priorities for its transformation, one that has already commenced. He spoke about National universities in small, developing countries, their role, the challenges they face in fragile economies, the opportunities and the imperative for such Universities to be supported, to be creative themselves so as to enhance and sustain human and national development.
Professor Sankat said to the gathering “I hope to lead the UB on the path to a renewed hope – one that creates new and wider educational opportunities for the young people of Belize to get a relevant, quality education; bringing the knowledge resident at the University to shape and facilitate Belize’s development pathway through leadership, research, creativity and innovation and all together bringing service to the people of Belize.” Equally important, he spoke of a UB which would truly be a social partner by engaging “in problem solving, treating with national issues like poverty and crime, the economy, health care, education, the creative arts, the environment, energy, food and agriculture, industry etc., thus shaping the possibilities for a better future.” Professor Sankat, an Engineer by training, focused on “Building and Transformation” at UB.
The ceremony had a special, memorable flavor in that much stirring songs and music filled the Cathedral performed by the UWI St. Augustine Arts Steel and Arts Chorale, together with Belizean Drummers lead by the exceptional UWI academic and conductor Mr. Jessel Murray. Coincidentally, Mr. Jessel Murray and his ensemble performed in 2008 at Professor Sankat’s installation as Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor of UWI at the St. Augustine Campus.