Sir Hilary awarded honorary doctorate
June 20, 2014

Sir Hilary awarded honorary doctorate

Pro Vice Chancellor and principal of UWI Cave Hill campus Sir Hilary Beckles has been awarded a fourth honorary doctorate – this latest coming from Brock University in Ontario, Canada. The honorary doctorate of laws was presented at Brock’s Spring {{more}}convocation on June 5.

Brock, which is currently marking its 50th anniversary, noted that Sir Hilary has distinguished himself in a multifaceted academic career and through his public engagement.

“An accomplished scholar, leader, cricket writer, playwright, university administrator, Sir Hilary is one of the most respected scholars of Caribbean history in the world,” orator Behnaz Mirzai noted in the citation. “He is a leader with diverse experiences, as well as a seasoned administrator in different areas, including his present position (as principal).

“He has seamlessly blended academic concerns within the wider non-academic spheres. His essays and books have generated considerable interest and have earned him a great deal of respect, including major awards. Every one of his works advances the frontier of knowledge.”

In his acceptance speech, Sir Hilary noted: “Brock is a very distinguished university with an enviable record of research and applied commercial engagement, and in many ways serves as a role model for the Cave Hill Campus. It is interesting that the person after whom your university is named, General Sir Isaac Brock, while serving in the British army was stationed at the Garrison in Barbados in 1812. It is an honour to be a part of this history, and to be recognized by your fine institution and the excellence it represents.”

Sir Hilary has authored, co-authored and edited more than 30 books, and has written over seventy academic articles on the subject of Barbadian history, Caribbean history, Atlantic and colonial history, often within the context of slavery, gender and labour.

He attended secondary school in Barbados and Britain, after his parents migrated there in the 1960s. He studied Economics and Social History at Hull University, from which he earned his doctorate in 1980. He joined the history department at UWI, Mona, in 1979, and speedily rose through the ranks to become – in rapid succession – professor, dean, pro-vice chancellor and campus principal.

In 2002, Sir Hilary led the Barbados national delegation to the UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa. He is vice-president of the UNESCO Slave Route Project, a consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme, an advisor to the UN World Culture Report, and a member of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Science Advisory Board on sustainable development. He is also chairman of the Caribbean Community Commission on Reparation and Social Justice.

His previous honorary Doctor of Letters degrees were awarded from the University of Hull in 2004; from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana in 2009, in recognition of his meritorious and distinguished lifetime achievements, public service and contribution to the world of learning and higher education; and from the University of Glasgow in 2011, in recognition of the major contribution he has made to academic research into the transatlantic slave trade and plantation slavery.