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University of The Bahamas Eyes Strategic Priorities in New Norm

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Dr. Rodney Smith, University of The Bahamas (UB) President

#Nassau, THE BAHAMAS – November 18, 2020 – The 2019-2020 academic year brought daunting challenges for University of The Bahamas (UB’s), but still senior administrators have touted some successes and set key priorities for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The Fall 2020 semester has been marked by an increase in full-time enrolment and Family Island enrolment, an expansion of land assets, while new graduate programmes will be rolled out and the University community in Grand Bahama remains focused on rebuilding, senior administrators reported during the Media P.A.S.S. (Plan for Achieving Strategic Success) virtual event held recently. 

Dino Hernandez, Vice President of Institutional Advancement & Alumni Affairs

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dr. K. Jonathan Rodgers noted that while UB has experienced a very tough period, it has shown that it is tough enough to handle any other challenges that may lie ahead. Dr. Rodgers said The Bahamas—particularly the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco—had barely started to pick up the pieces from Hurricane Dorian when the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent economic recession struck. 

Like many other organizations, exploring and capitalizing on potential revenue generating measures is among the priorities. 

“We are contemplating a possible convocation center to be built on the Clarence Bain Building property,” said Dr. Rodgers. “We are also in talks with the government to create an economic zone around the university campus that will provide an income stream needed to support the future growth of the university.” 

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The Clarence A. Bain Building has been razed and the government recently gifted the land, on University Drive and Moss Road, to UB. 

Among the senior administrators who reported on their respective portfolios were President Dr. Rodney D. Smith; Vice President of Administrative Services Dr. Marcella Elliott-Ferguson; Vice President of University of The Bahamas-North Dr. Ian G. Strachan; Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Oriakhi; and Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Affairs Mr. Dino Hernandez. Each enumerated the progress made over the 2019-2020 academic year and identified their strategic imperatives for the 2020-2021 year.  

President Smith attributed the achievement of recent milestones to a culture of collaboration and shared governance. He celebrated the contributions of faculty, staff, students and administrators as well as donors and other supporters of the University. 

“During this pandemic, both academic freedom and shared governance have been essential in UB’s ability to pivot and remain a functioning tertiary level institution. Essential to all of our success is the faculty and staff at UB who took on so many other duties and responsibilities,” said President Smith. “I thank them for being innovative in the use of technology, and working so enthusiastically with students, making sure that the high quality education for which UB is renowned, is delivered timely and accurately.”   

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A five-year Strategic Plan is guiding UB’s trajectory and among the goals are increasing student enrolment and graduation. Factors like the lingering effect of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted student enrolment. 

Full-time enrolment has increased by 11.5 percent to 3,790 students; enrolment of Family Island students has increased; and the percentage of students pursuing undergraduate degree programmes rose by 2.8 percent for Fall 2020, according to VP of Administrative Services Dr. Marcella Elliott-Ferguson. UB’s current enrolment stands at 4,575 for New Providence and Grand Bahama. 

“Normally we would report separately on the UB-North campus and the main campus here in New Providence,” said Dr. Elliott-Ferguson. “This time around though, that did not appear to be an adequate measure, because what we found is that due to the virtual environment there were students who were registering both for courses at UB-North and courses in New Providence, no matter where they were.” 

VP of UB-North Dr. Ian Strachan also touted an increase in enrolment for Fall 2020 as a result of students being able to register and take classes online offered at either campus. 

“This year we have a higher enrolment than we have had in a very long time, 686 students enrolled in UB-North classes and the students are not all resident in Grand Bahama. Even in the midst of this crisis our ability to respond creatively and quickly, to migrate our classes online has made it possible for us to grow,” said Dr. Strachan. 

Dr. Mercella Elliot-Ferguson, Vice President of Administrative Services

Eight months into kicking its remote education into high gear, some 90% of UB’s courses are being delivered as virtual content. A few practicum classes are being held on campus with strict health protocols, according to VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Oriakhi. By the end of the current academic year, the institution expects to roll out new graduate degree programmes including the very first doctoral degree. 

“Five graduate programmes were approved by the Academic Senate: MBA Accounting, MBA Events Management, MBA Hospitality Management, Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Public Administration, expected to begin Spring 2021. We also anticipate offering the Master and Doctorate by Research before the end of this academic year,” noted Dr. Oriakhi.  

In line with the strategic goal of increasing and diversifying revenue and funding sources, VP Institutional Advancement and Alumni Affairs Dino Hernandez revealed the highlights of private giving to UB from both national and international donors. He noted that there was a 148 percent increase in cumulative gift activity for 2019-2020 over 2018-2019. Additionally, between 4th September, 2019 and 30th September, 2020 UB’s Hurricane Dorian Relief and Recovery Fund secured $461,461.44 in cash, pledges, and in-kind donations for the rebuilding of UB-North. UB also has been fundraising for its COVID-19 Relief Fund. 

Dr. Maria Oriakhi, Vice President of Academic Affairs

“We never stop accepting gifts. There is still a great level of need. In this global pandemic we realized that our students are in desperate need of technology, not just limited to access to a laptop, or a desktop but also access to the Internet. So I encourage folks to go to our COVID-19 Relief Fund and give,” he said. 

Held under the theme “Accessing, Adapting and Advancing Higher Education in a New Norm”, the Media P.A.S.S. event is a platform to share UB’s achievements, and milestones for the 2019-2020 academic year and strategic priorities and projections for the current year.  

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Bahamas News

PRESS RELEASE: Prime Minister Minnis Thanks Bahamians for the Last Four Years

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#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Free National Movement (FNM) Party Leader, Hubert A. Minnis thanked Bahamians for the last four years in tonight’s concession speech:

“Tonight I spoke with Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis and offered my congratulations to him and his party on their victory at the polls.  I offered him my best wishes as his Government now faces the continued fight against COVID-19, and the restoration of our economy.

I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates.  I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly.  I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time.

I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.  The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition.  The people decide who serves as government.  Our party presented its vision for the future to Bahamians from the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, all the way to the southern islands of MICAL.

The people determined that they preferred the Progressive Liberal Party.  My party and I accept that result.  We are proud of our record the past four-plus years.

During our term we faced the most difficult times in Bahamian history.  In September 2019, Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama were struck by the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas.  Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest storms recorded on our planet.  It caused generational destruction to our northern islands.  Six months later, we were in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout each crisis my Government worked hard to assist the Bahamian people.  On the northern islands we have had to rebuild roads, water systems, schools, docks, bridges and other critical infrastructure.

In the pandemic, we provided tens of millions of dollars per month in food and unemployment benefits to citizens, along with tax credits to businesses.  We fought hard to secure more than half a million doses of three of the best vaccines in the world.

The FNM has a proud legacy.  We have governed The Bahamas over four terms.  Our philosophy is to use the resources of government to provide opportunity to those who have historically been without.  That is why we invested in free preschool, providing early education to thousands of children. That is why we invested in free tertiary education at the University of The Bahamas and BTVI.

That is why we created the Over-the-Hill initiative to benefit people in grassroots communities with tax concessions and development assistance.  That is why we invested record amounts in Family Island infrastructure.  That is why we created the Small Business Development Centre, extending millions of dollars to help Bahamians realize their dreams.

Our belief in the Bahamian people was also evidenced in the manifesto we ran on in this election.  We pledged a Universal School Meals Program, expanded access to afterschool programs, $250 million to Bahamian small businesses over five years, expanded access to Crown Land, support for the arts and agriculture and fisheries, along with many more policies for the people.

We did not win this time.   But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals.  Always put the people first, and be honest in government.

The people have asked us to be the opposition.  We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability.  We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people.

I thank my wife Patricia and my family for supporting me during this term, and throughout my life.  I also thank the officers, members and supporters of the Free National Movement for their assistance and encouragement during my time as leader.

And to the Bahamian people, I say a warm and heartfelt thank you for my time being your Prime Minister.  You are a strong, hardworking and resilient people.  Hurricane Dorian did not break you. The pandemic has not broken you.

You trust in the God who has brought us this far.  Trust that He will bring us further to brighter times.  Again, thank you. And may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

 

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BAHAMAS: PM Philip Davis Swearing In Speech

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REMARKS BY

THE HON. PHILIP DAVIS,  M.P., QC,

PRIME MINISTER

ON THE OCCASION OF

HIS CEREMONIAL SWEARING-IN AS

PRIME MINISTER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2021

BAHA MAR BALLROOM

 

 

Your Excellency, the Governor-General; First

Lady, Ann Marie Davis, Deputy Prime Minister

Elect, I. Chester Cooper and Mrs. Cooper, Honourable and Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I wish to thank the Bahamian people who turned out and voted resoundingly for change.

As I said on Thursday night, you voted with brave hearts, and you voted with hearts full of hope for our country.

It was unfortunate that many Bahamians who wished to participate in this election were not able to do so. It was the first time in modern Bahamian history that so many voters were disenfranchised – and I hope it is the last. The right to vote is the essential right in a democracy.

Our new administration comes into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

In recent months, as I travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful country, many people shared with me their stories of hardship and need and despair.

Against that backdrop, we face the many crises borne out of the Covid-19 pandemic: tragic numbers of our people are becoming ill and dying; our hospitals in a state of collapse; our doctors and nurses and other frontline workers pleading for support to shore up our healthcare system.

The economy is also in decline, as we face an historically high deficit and debt. The news of the downgrade yesterday underscores the severity of the fiscal crisis and the urgency of moving quickly to address it.

The challenges in education also deeply concern me. Thousands of young Bahamians have missed out on their education during the past few years, first because of the displacement caused by Hurricane Dorian, then because of the way the Covid-19 crisis has been managed.  These are indeed big challenges.

Some have questioned why we want to serve when the problems are so difficult.  But my team and I offered ourselves for public service precisely because these problems are so difficult – and precisely because we believe that we have the right vision, the right policies, and the right team to take this country forward.  We will not fail if we keep the best interests of the Bahamian people as our guiding north star.

As a young boy growing up in Cat Island, I faced many hardships and obstacles.  I know what it is to be poor.

As a young man trying to find his first job, I faced doors that seemed always slammed shut.  I know what it is to feel disappointment.  As a lawyer trying to build a practice, I missed out on many opportunities because I didnt have the right connections.

I know what its like to be on the outside looking in.  In my family life, I know the ups and downs of raising children and sending them out into the world.  I am determined to take the wisdom gained from these experiences and use it to help others.  It is possible to overcome.  It is possible to work hard and succeed.  It is possible to forgive.  And it is possible to bring about the changes you wish to see.

These are the values that will inform my decisions in office.  In just under two years time, we will celebrate fifty years of The Bahamas being a fully independent, sovereign nation.  We must begin to deliver more purposefully the promise of Independence.   Independence is more than freedom from rule by others.  It is the defining purpose of our country, which says that every one of us is entitled to reach our fullest potential.

And so each day we will ask ourselves: What can we do to ensure that the aspirations and hopes of the Bahamian people are translated into opportunities and paths to success?  Deep in my heart I know that with God, all things are possible”.

If we work together, towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are indeed possible for our country and our people.  But no government can do great things on its own.  I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people.

We are going to listen.

We are going to consult widely.

And we are going to bring people together.

That is the best way to make progress as a nation.  No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.

I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable.  We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few.  We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people.  We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that its not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people.

There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.  It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there.

I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.”

I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.

I thank the many people over the years who have supported me to this moment, where I am able to step into servant leadership for the benefit of the Bahamian people.

I thank my family, especially my wife Ann, and my children, my siblings, Alvin, Don, Craig and Trevor, my one and only sister, Diane, who every day continue to give me so much love and support.

And I thank the Bahamian people who have placed their faith and confidence in me and my team.

 

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EPIC ELECTION!  39 chosen from HUGE field of 228 Candidates, PLP WINS

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#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Concluding with another sweeping swing, Bahamians for the fifth consecutive General Election have made the swap between the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) and this time, the Hubert Minnis-led FNM Administration saw the curtain close dramatically on its performance in exchange for the ‘New Day’ alternative presented by Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, leader of the PLP.

The polls closed at 6pm, the call to concede came at 9 pm.  Just as the general elections came in a snap for The Bahamas, so did the realization for Dr. Hubert Minnis that his Free National Movement party failed to recapture the majority of seats in parliament and just like that, Philip Brave Davis became the prime minister elect for The Bahamas.

“We are going to listen. We are going to consult widely. And we are going to bring people together. That is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people. I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable. We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few. We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people. We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said Hon Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in remarks at his Ceremonial Swearing in which took place at the Baha Mar Ballroom on (today) Saturday September 18, 2021.

In epic fashion this year’s elections unraveled and in equally stunning loss, the FNM was resoundingly rejected.  The party held onto only seven constituencies; the PLP racking up 32 seats in the House of Assembly.  In 2017, the split was four to the PLP and 35 members of parliament for the FNM.

It was a polling day which observers believe has drawn the lowest voter turn-out in history and one which ratified the highest number of candidates of any voting day.

There were 228 individuals who offered for the 39 seats.  Added to the fray were virtually unknown organisations like the UCP, BCP, the KGM and the GCP; more familiar to Bahamians as an alternative to the usual PLP and FNM offering were the Coalition of Independents (COI), just several months old and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), making its third appearance on the ballots.

The Parliamentary Registration Department informed there were 192,587 registered voters across the archipelago; 20,000 of them new.  However, a staggering number of people were not registered as they were caught off guard by the surprise announcement of September 2021 as Election Day instead of a May 2022.

The Parliamentary Registration Department was plunged – ready or not – into a snap process, having to manage a highly contentious race in the midst of the killer coronavirus pandemic.

“I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates. I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly. I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time. I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition. The people decide who serves as government,” expressed Dr. Hubert Minnis, in his Concession Speech on the night of the election September 16, 2021.

Hubert Minnis for the fourth consecutive time won the majority of votes, to hold onto the Killarney Constituency.

“We did not win this time. But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals. Always put the people first, and be honest in government. The people have asked us to be the opposition. We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability. We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people,” said Dr. Minnis in an issued statement.

The outgoing prime minister was criticised for his cowardly exit; again dodging media cameras, scrutiny and a live audience.  It also remains to be seen if indeed Dr. Minnis will return as the Leader of the Opposition, given his decisive loss as leader.

With his New Day was the theme guiding his first declarations to Bahamians as the fifth prime minister of the Commonwealth, Brave Davis assured there is no easy work ahead, but pledged results with the Bahamian people remaining the PLP’s north star.

“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us. It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there. I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.

I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.”

Independents and other political parties made more of an impression in the 2021 national poll than ever before, however none was able to breakthrough to earn a seat at the parliamentary table.

“We didn’t step forward to become famous or for self-recognition. We didn’t step forward for our own families to be victimized and threatened. We didn’t step forward for our names to be lied on and smeared.We stepped forward because we believed and still do in the Bahamian people,” said Lincoln Bain, leader of the COI, which in its debut rolled in as the third most popular party, he added, “We will continue this fight because we are not a flash in the frying pan organization. We will continue the fight until EVERY Bahamian has benefited from our #NaturalResources.”

The election was observed by CARICOM observers led by former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Official General Election results are still being processed by the Parliamentary Registration Department.

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