The first of July 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the formal establishment of the University of the West Indies (UWI) as the successor to the University College of the West Indies. (UCWI). This is because on that date the Agreement between the two institutions “for the incorporation of the College in the University and for taking over its rights, property, liabilities, and engagements …” came into effect.
Although the new Charter of the University received royal approval on April 2, 1962, some legal hurdles stood in the way for it to become effective. Eventually on 29 June, 1962 the Council of the UCWI and the new provincial council of the UWI met in separate sessions to approve an agreement between the two institutions and to decide on the date of transfer.
The outgoing Principal and incoming Vice Chancellor, W Arthur Lewis was clearly exasperated by the length of the process. “In fact”, he said “we talked of merely amending the UCWI Charter by special resolution to change the name and to add the power to grant degrees so that the cooperation would continue. I do not know at what point we got into this costly but useless farce of having people under one name hand over to the same people under a different name”
However, the fact that the UWI has not only survived over the past five decades but has expanded beyond all recognition is testimony to the solid start it received in 1962 on the firm foundation of the UCWI.