The Pelican is a significant symbol for The University of the West Indies. The Pelican stands proudly as the crest of the UWI coat-of-arms, adorns the University Mace, forms the Lectern at the University Chapel, and is also the name of the university magazine. The Pelican’s association with the university began at the 3rd meeting of the Provisional Council of the UWI’s precursor institution, the University College of the West Indies in 1949.
A symbol of care
Sir Thomas Taylor, the first Principal of the University College of the West Indies, in his capacity as chair suggested the inclusion of “a pelican, a bird which was found all over the Caribbean and is a traditional symbol of piety”, as the crest of the coat-of-Arms. (Min.35 UCWI Provincial Council, 10 Jan. 1949). But why the Pelican? Taylor penned, “The pelican is a heraldic symbol of pious care for the young since according to old legend it punctured its breast with its bill, and fed its young on the blood of its wounds”. (From description of Coat of Arms, 22 September, 1949)
Our Diary of Care
As the Pelican emblematically cared for her young, so has the UWI nurtured and cared for the intellectual development of the Caribbean region for over 60 years. The University Archives, on the other hand, has protected and conserved the documented roots of our institution. The University Archives at Mona started its duty of care for all the records of enduring value in 1991 when the first university archivist was appointed. Our holdings date as far back as June 1947, when the Provisional Council held its first meeting, and are indeed the literal roots of our university. Our holdings reflect every decision that nourished the growth of the UWI while grounding the institution to its precedents and traditions. Through this blog, we hope to chronicle our duty of care to the roots of the UWI, while encouraging research into our fascinating history and institution. Enjoy reading our blog, but better yet, come visit us! –SHG