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Statement on The Passing of Professor Emeritus Selwyn Ryan

Passing of Professor Selwyn Ryan
Professor Emeritus Selwyn Ryan: An icon transitions.

Professor Emeritus Selwyn Ryan: An icon transitions.


The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Monday, March 14, 2022—The following statement is issued by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, on the passing of Professor Emeritus Selwyn Ryan, renowned social scientist and former University Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at The University of the West Indies. He was also the Director of the St. Augustine Branch of the Institute from 1986 to 2003.

Professor Selwyn Ryan’s contribution to the rise of The University of the West Indies as an excellent, ethical and activist academy sets him apart as a stalwart of scholarship and an icon of the academe. Over a period of four decades, this phenomenally dedicated doyen charted new ground in political science and stood his ground for the relevance and legitimacy of his discipline and institution. In this regard, we recognise and celebrate his intellectual and scholastic contribution to The UWI as it continues on a journey of service to the Caribbean people.

Selwyn was not only a solid and reliable political scientist that left no stone unturned in the search for facts and truths but a splendid articulator of his empirical discoveries. He was a brilliant research empiricist. Theorising was not his preference. His primary commitment was to enable society to clearly understand the issues at hand for purposes of shaping political policy and practice. We all looked to him for research discoveries to fuel discourses relevant to the nation-building project in Trinidad and Tobago. His evidence dominated the discursive space. He shaped our understanding of the politics of divisive democracy and centred the university’s voice with dignity and respect.

His substantial contribution transcended the St. Augustine Campus and the indigenous environment. He was a Caribbean character with a regional mentality that defined his role as a ‘One UWI’ intellectual icon. He was at home on the Mona Campus where he bonded with contemporaries such as the late, legendary political scientist Professor Carl Stone. To watch them in action across the ‘UWIverse’ was to observe Caribbean intellectualism at its finest and most effective.

Selwyn gave his all to and for us. He wrote with sophistication, not only about the systems and structures of governance, and the character of the political culture. He was sympathetic of the plight of the marginalised. He wrote about the plight of the ‘sardines’ in the ‘shark dominated’ Caribbean waters. There was no horizon beyond his willingness to confront. In this regard he served as a major mind within our regional intellectual civilization.

Our distinguished colleague was an outstanding researcher, writer, teacher, and administrator. We thank him for his superb innings at the crease and wish him a blessed journey to the ancestral pavilion.  I join with Principal Brian Copeland and colleagues at the St Augustine Campus in offering condolences to his family and loved ones on behalf of the regional and global community that is The University of the West Indies.



About The UWI

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region.

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). In the latest World University Rankings 2022, released in September 2021, The UWI moved up an impressive 94 places from last year. In the current global field of some 30,000 universities and elite research institutes, The UWI stands among the top 1.5%.

The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean, it is also in the top 20 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

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(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)