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American Foundation Of UWI Annual Awards Gala – January 28th, 2010, New York

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Four Caribbean Prime Ministers; Usain Bolt, Olympic and World Champion; and Spike Lee to be honored by American Foundation for the University of the West Indies, several Other Prominent public figures to be saluted at Annual Awards Gala   Glittering Awards ceremony scheduled for January 28 in New York

It’s an achievement that few universities or colleges have equaled in the last half century.  Of the many songs of praise sung about national or regional tertiary level institutions in any part of the world, the record of University of the West Indies in training heads of state and government remains unsurpassed.

Since it’s founding more than 60 years ago, the UWI’s list of graduates contains the names of almost every Prime Minister and President in the English-speaking Caribbean since the 1960s.

So, it stands to reason that when the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies holds its 13th annual “The Legacy Continues” Award Dinner on January 28th at the Pierre Hotel in New York four Caribbean Prime Ministers — David Thompson of Barbados, Dr. Dean Barrow of Belize, Tillman Thomas of Grenada and Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago – would receive the Foundation’s and the University’s Legacy Award.

Actually, the heads of Caricom governments are joining the list of leaders, all UWI graduates, who were recognized several years ago by the Foundation for their outstanding leadership in a region that’s had more than its fair share of challenges and achievements since sovereignty first came to the island-nations and coastal states beginning in 1962. P.J. Patterson, who led Jamaica for more than a dozen years; Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the current Prime Minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Dr. Kenny Anthony, a legal expert who served as St. Lucia’s leader in the 1990s and served for 10 years;  Dr. Denzil Douglas, their counterpart in St. Kitts-Nevis; Owen Arthur, Barbados’ Prime Minister between 1994-2008; and Dr. Keith Mitchell, Grenada’s head of government for 15 years were hailed by the Foundation at its Legacy Awards Gala.

“The prime ministers who are being honored in January are shining examples of the high quality of leadership molded by our university,” said Michael Flanigan, Chair of the Foundation’s Board. “They have assumed leadership of their respective countries and are helping to guide the Caribbean region as a whole at a time of immense national and regional economic, environmental and social challenges. We are delighted that they readily agreed to accept the award and to attend the function.”

But the heads of government aren’t alone in being singled out for high praise by the Foundation. Spike Lee, one of Hollywood’s leading motion picture producers whose works have attracted a global following is to be presented with the exclusive “Bob Marley Award” for his contribution to U.S. and international cultural development.

“When one thinks of Spike Lee and his creativity, whether it is in the production of motion pictures, television shows or other creative art forms, what comes immediately to mind is the image of an unbelievably talented artiste and producer,” said Harry Belafonte, a world-famous entertainer and human rights advocate who is also the Dinner’s Honorary patron. “We can’t think of a more deserving honoree than Mr. Lee who continues to leave an indelible mark on an industry and art form that influences the thinking of people all over the world. Lee is certainly among the best.”

The Foundation also plan to salute Usian Bolt, the 2008 multiple Olympic Gold medalist and 2009 world sprint champion who is considered the fastest human being alive, and Dr Edison O. Jackson, until recently President of Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. Dr. Jackson is routinely credited with transforming the Brooklyn school of higher education into a high performing branch of CUNY’s network of campuses.

In addition, Sybil Chester, Dr. Carlene Chin-Quee, Maxine Griffith and Janet Rolle’ are to receive the UWI Vice Chancellor’s Award while Lowell Hawthorne, Earl Jarrett, Dr. Lesley Kerrisant; and R. “Danny Williams are to join the list of luminaries of the Foundation and the University.

“They were chosen by a distinguished panel after an extensive search and we consider them to be some of the most outstanding people of the modern world,” said Karl Rodney, Gala Chairman. “These individuals have had a profound impact on the United States and the Caribbean. The public figures, corporate executives, entertainers, producers and other leaders of their chosen professions are truly deserving of the highest accolades.”

The Masters and mistresses of ceremony are Brenda Blackmon, News Anchor, My 9, WWOR-Television; Maurice Dubois, News Anchor, WCBC-TV; and Lola Ogunnaike, CNN Correspondent.

The American Foundation of the University of the West Indies is the primary fund-raising arm of the UWI in its Capital campaign and other Fund-raising efforts in the United States. In the last three years, it provided $350,000 in scholarships and $300,000 in books and equipment to the University.

First established in 1956, the AFUWI is a not-for-profit 501 © (3) entity.

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Written by Staff Writer