• Vice Chancellor, Xi

Commencement Message for the Academic Year 2020-2021

Our dear new students joining the University community this academic year, continuing students from previous years, new faculty and staff as well as those who are continuing this journey, I bid you all welcome to the commencement of academic year 2020-2021.

I do this on behalf of the 10, 000 plus students and 1000 staff of the University of Guyana, and our more than 40,000 alumni all over this planet. I do this on behalf of the University’s Chancellor, Pro Chancellor, and Council members and the scores of partners and well-wishers of the University across Guyana and the world who are all contributing to and rooting for your success.

Students, today will mark the beginning of one of the most significant journeys of your adult life, one which you would have worked tirelessly to embark upon. No doubt it will change your life, your life’s trajectory, and your life’s chances ...we plan to work with you to ensure that these changes are for the better.

A University education makes a difference. Studies worldwide indicate that a University education is one of the best indicators of future economic and social mobility not only for the graduate but also for their families. This is why, as part of UG’s Blueprint2020, our first aspirational goal is ensuring at least 1 graduate per household by the year 2040.

Getting into University is a competitive process anywhere in the world; it is no different in Guyana. Therefore, we wish to encourage you to take every opportunity that this journey provides for it is undoubtedly a privilege to be amongst the top 10% of this year’s graduates from feeder institutions across Guyana who have made it into the University.

We are commencing this academic year in a way that none of us would have envisaged or could have wanted to imagine last year. It is a fateful, challenging, and completely unpredictable time. It is also a clarifying and telling moment in which we can reflect upon what is important individually, as a country, and as a planet. It is also a moment in which human resiliency and courage shine brightly. This is a time in which the University of Guyana has stood up and fulfilled its national mandate. Whether we sprinted, jogged, or dragged ourselves forward to do so, we have valiantly - as a community, brought about this commencement. If you are new to University life you may not yet realize just how much work and how many people and complex processes it takes to make the teaching possible. Hopefully, you will avail yourself to learning about this so that you might be led to a nuanced understanding of your alma mater.

For all they do and for this commencement in particular, I wish to thank all the men and women of this University from the Vice Chancellery to the guards and custodial staff who keep us safe and clean. I wish to especially thank PACE and DECC, the Registrar and Registry Staff, CoETAL, TOSS, EDOSS, the Deans, Heads and lecturers, Librarian and Library staff, and support staff in personnel and the Bursary for the countless extra hours spent re-designing and putting systems and courses online in the shortest possible time. I wish to thank the University Chancellor, Pro Chancellor, and Council for hours spent deliberating over policy decisions which were necessary in this year. To the MOE – MoF of the GoG for their guidance and support. To the Senior Management Team (SMT) thank you and special thanks to DVCs Dr Emanuel Cummings and Dr Mellissa Ifill who, though they have only been on the job for two months have been exceptional in their diligent attention paid to the needs of this commencement. Also, special thanks to the 17 students from UGSS and other student clubs on campus who have worked on a help desk to support students through this process.

However, let me return to you the students, the reason why this great institution was established 57 years ago, even before Guyana became independent and long before many of us were born. The founders envisaged a sophisticated, well-educated, and socially proficient human emerging from this University. We intend to work with you to fulfill that mission. And just so we are pellucid and clear – your mission is to succeed in realizing your own personal goals and potential.

The University itself is in a state of transition and change like the country and many other parts of the world. You are all part of those beginnings to perfect our systems, redefine our priorities, design for the future, manage for the present, and account for the past. A main pillar of this change is student and staff success and satisfaction. To do this, we aim to improve the standard of service, delivery, and support in every one of our systems and departments. This is why, the second of our five aspirational goals is to make UG the choice place to work and study in the near future.

Further, while we know that some cultures are difficult to change, we also appreciate that it is not impossible if we have the will, context, and good reason. Covid-19 has demonstrated that accelerated change and adaptation are completely possible.

So, reach out in a respectful manner if there is anything you need to support you on this path to evolving to your better selves. We know each of us faces varied personal and professional realties and so we urge you to take advantage of the many services and opportunities available at UG -, from our counselling and psychological support services, free human relations courses, conferences and seminars, research projects, work on campus, cultural and other clubs, local, national and international work and study opportunities, as you savor University life, find time to make friends, develop and test ideas, create your chosen family, find your voice, your talent, your purpose, and your path. That future of possibilities commences today. Welcome and welcome back, we thank you for entrusting your higher education to UG. May we all be blessed to overcome all challenges and to succeed. Here’s to one Guyana and one UG!

Prof. Paloma Mohamed Martin, PhD
Vice Chancellor, Xi
The University of Guyana
October 25, 2020


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