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Awards for Excellence at Cave Hill

For Release Upon Receipt - Monday, December 21, 2015

Through her highly developed astuteness in event and protocol management, underpinned by a keen eye for elegant décor and attention to fine detail, she has created memorable moments for many who attended Cave Hill campus’ signal events in recent years. A similar spectacular creation provided the backdrop for her own magical memory Saturday night, when Senior Assistant Registrar Jennifer Hinkson shared the limelight with four other colleagues who copped the coveted Principal’s Award for Excellence at the campus’ annual Retirees and Long Service Awards Ceremony.

Two lecturers in the Faculty of Science and Technology, Dr. Janak Sodha and Dr. Srinivasa Popuri; Administrative Assistant in the Faculty of Humanities and Education, Ms Alison Johnson; and fellow Senior Assistant Registrar Mrs Sharon Alexander-Gooding shared the spotlight with Mrs Hinkson who created history by becoming the first person to receive the Principal’s Award for Excellence twice in its 11-year existence.

“She has been the catalyst for the emergence of the Cave Hill Brand in Events and Event Planning,” stated Campus Orator and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education Dr. Jennifer Obidah of Mrs Hinkson who had been among the inaugural recipients of the Principal’s Award for Excellence in 2005. “We have seen improvement over time in all the meetings, and events hosted by the Campus. University meetings and Campus Council are all very efficiently executed.”

She also noted: “Mrs. Hinkson has served on many University Committees and has been outstanding in her outreach efforts serving at the most senior level in several service clubs and organisations including the UWI Alumni, International Association of Administrative Professional, Caribbean Association of Administrative Professionals, Barbados Association of Office Professionals, Kiwanis Club, UWI Cooperative Credit Union, WIGUT, Protocol and Diplomacy International and Member of Interviewing Panels, Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.”

Senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics, Dr. Janak, who was awarded for Outstanding Contribution to Public Service, was recognized for his pioneering work in the use of videos to enhance the teaching of Physics and Mathematics at secondary schools in the Caribbean. UwiTube, the brainchild of Dr. Sodha, is a server hosting questions and video solutions on Common Entrance Mathematics, and CSEC Mathematics and English. Its contents can be accessed via an App for smart phones and tablets in the Apple store and Google Play store.

Dr. Obidah remarked: “A principal from one of Barbados’ secondary school writes that Dr. Sodha’s innovation ‘has improved the image of the university…[it has] helped to show that the university is not just about academia but also about finding solutions to issues which affect us every day, in this case, the challenge of achieving in math.’”

She noted that yet another stated: “’The UwiTube project has contributed greatly to the reputation of the University of the West Indies as I’ve noticed from my experiences when recommending it to parents and students alike. They’ve all mentioned how surprised they were to have such a resource available for free to the public.’”

The award for Excellence in Research Accomplishments went to Dr. Popuri, a lecturer in Analytical Chemistry, also in the Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences, who has had demonstrated a remarkable record of research and publishing, especially in areas such as membrane technology, renewable energy and resource recycling of electronic waste, since joining the campus in 2008.

“He has recently extended his research into the development of green polymers for antibacterial, water scaling and wastewater treatment applications, and environmentally sustainable technologies such as: fry-drying technology for sludge treatment, biodegradable biosorbents for pollutants removal, and microbial fuel cell technology for simultaneous water treatment and energy production,” Dr Obidah said.

She highlighted his 40 journal articles in reputed international journals, including multiple citings, and the fact that one of his publications was elected as one of the top 10 cited articles 2008-2010.

“Praise for Dr. Popuri’s work highlights that ‘over the last two decades or so, water conservation technologies both in the industrial and domestic sectors have come to the forefront. Industrial water requirements are becoming more and more stringent as processes operate within much stricter tolerances than before. Dr. Popuri’s work, therefore, has significant industrial impact, appears to be very sustainable, and could be a potential revenue earner for the university’”, Dr. Obidah said.

Recognition for Outstanding Work to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Operations at Cave Hill in the ATS Category went to Ms Johnson for her sterling contributions in assisting and organizing local, regional and international events hosted by the Faculty of Humanities and Education, at which she showcased skills, talents and attributes which have earned her acclaim from beyond the region.

“It is difficult to consider the success of the many conferences, colloquia, symposia and other events held by the Faculty, without perceiving Ms. Johnson’s personal contribution,” said Dr. Obidah quoting comments by her predecessor and former Deputy Principal, Professor Pedro Welch.

She added: “For one particular conference held within the Faculty, one professor notes that participants from Barbados and the wider Caribbean singled out Ms. Johnson for “her sterling work and calm handling of numerous glitches and crises. We were fortunate to have Alison’s assistance and her absolute commitment, during and after office hours, on evenings and weekends, to seeing that everything went smoothly.”

It was this level of professionalism and commitment to success which brought her to the attention of international colleagues who attended conferences in which she played a part. The Executive Assistant to the Chair of the Department of History at NYUpraised her work lavishly claiming that her creative talents definitely raised the bar for work that is produced by some graphic designers in New York.

“Ms Johnson’s commitment to the University goes beyond organizing conferences,” said Dr. Obidah. “In previous years she developed some key initiatives that have improved efficiency within the Faculty. Some of these initiatives include: the development of the Registration Aide, a document to assist staff with academic counseling and with selecting and tracking their courses; creating and managing an online system for the internal process of registration of topic and proposal submission for students’ final year thesis in Caribbean Studies course, and converting the course reader … from a printed document to an interactive course CD, which has resulted in an over ninety percent reduction in production time and costs.”

Mrs Alexander-Gooding who was recognized for Outstanding Contribution to Public Service was credited with “changing the face of record keeping at the Cave Hill campus and the other (UWI) campuses,” helping to implement cutting edge education in records management, as well as educating and training a new cadre of archivists; and offering expert advice to governments, statutory boards and agencies which has led to policy changes in records and information management practices.

“In terms of education and training, in-house training by Sharon has become a staple for UWI support staff and staff of government departments across the Caribbean,” Dean Obidah stated. “She was instrumental in setting up the acclaimed Certificate in Records Management, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean with training given in the summer break on the Cave Hill and Mona Campuses. This programme has been instrumental in training over 450 students from the public and private sectors across the region in Barbados and approximately 320 in Mona. This has been a flagship programme that has served to change the face of recordkeeping from the bottom up in the developing countries of the Caribbean.”

Long service awards were presented to more than 40 employees who have dedicated between 15 and 40 years of service to the institution while the Campus bade farewell to 11 of its stalwarts who made an immeasurable contribution to its work over the past several decades.

Photo caption: Principal's Awardees (l-r) Dr.Janak Sodha (inset), Ms. Alison Johnson, Mrs. Jennifer Hinkson, Principal Prof. Eudine Barriteau, Mrs. Sharon Alexandar-Gooding and Dr. Srinivasa Popuri

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