January 9, 2017

President Hancock Meets with State Sen. Hamilton on SUNY’s UWI Partnership

University of the West Indies
The University of the West Indies

President Merodie A. Hancock met with state Sen. Jesse Hamilton, (D, Brooklyn), on Dec. 16, 2016, at his district office, as part of SUNY Empire State College’s leadership role in the newly established SUNY UWI (University of the West Indies) Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development.

Situated at SUNY Empire's Manhattan location, the Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development will engage in research relevant to democratic participation, leadership and governance, with a focus on solutions to specific problems constraining the achievement of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. The center will focus on serving groups that have faced barriers to equal opportunities.

SUNY announced the new center on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2016.

The center also will build on existing SUNY and UWI areas of mutual interest and cooperation, including teacher training, open, distance and online education, and also will focus on serving groups that have faced barriers to equal opportunities.

In February 2015, Hancock joined SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall when SUNY renewed its ties to UWI.

The leadership of Chairman McCall and UWI Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles was an essential component of the establishment of the new center.

In addition to Hancock and Hamilton, Elizabeth Thompson, the center’s executive director, William Howard, president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, and SUNY Empire Interim Executive Director of Enrollment Management Christopher Whann attended the meeting.

At that time, Hamilton was briefed on the new center and the college’s desire to work far more closely with Brooklyn’s substantial West Indian population. The center team also sought the senator’s advice, guidance and assistance in achieving the center’s broad goals.

With this in mind, Hamilton had invited Howard as both a community leader and president of the Carnival Association, whose mission is to promote, develop and celebrate Caribbean culture, arts, history and traditions through year-round programs which culminate with a week-long display of festivities and a grand finale Carnival parade and to expand its cultural reach throughout the world.

This year, the carnival association celebrates its 50th anniversary Thursday, Aug. 31, through Monday, Sept. 4.

Howard shared ideas on how the center team can work more effectively through stronger community connections and a better understanding of the West Indian diaspora community in Brooklyn and throughout New York City.

The senator also offered to help open doors and make introductions to other community leaders, local, state and federal elected officials, organized labor and the U.N. diplomatic corps.

Further meetings and discussions are planned.

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