27 January 2009
Caribbean scholars honoured with degrees from leading UK University
Two influential scholars from the Caribbean will be honoured by the University of Sheffield at degree congregations to be held this week in Trinidad (29 January 2009) and St Lucia (1 February 2009).
Professor Gordon Rohlehr, a pioneer in the study of calypso, a style of African-Caribbean music which originated in Trinidad and Tobago, and Mr Gregor Williams, an inspirational St Lucian who has enhanced the lives of the people of the island through his work in conservation, heritage and education, will both be awarded Doctor of Letters degrees at the ceremonies.
They will join local students from Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia who have completed distance learning programmes from the University´s School of Education.
Professor Gordon Rohlehr – who spent forty years in the Department of English at the University of the West Indies at St Augustine, Trinidad – has established an international reputation for his ground-breaking work on Caribbean literature, calypso and culture. He is the world´s leading authority on calypso, tracing its development over the last two hundred years from its West African origins and studying the vast amount of recorded material produced by generations of West Indians, particularly in Trinidad and Tobago.
As a devotee of the game of cricket, Professor Rohlehr has been able to combine his love of the game with his professional interest in Caribbean oral tradition, as the sport is featured prominently in calypsos.
Gregor Williams spent his early career in Canada as an engineer before returning to St Lucia to become Principal of Vieux Fort Secondary School. He then worked for the Ministry of Education and Culture until taking early retirement in order to concentrate his energies on the cultural and economic development of St Lucia. Researchers, students and authors have made extensive use of the valuable archive material he has assembled on the island´s cultural heritage. In 1958 he discovered a new species of lizard on the island, the St Lucia Whiptail, which is marked in the same colours as its national flag – blue, white, yellow and black.
He has also been involved in several world heritage initiatives, including UNESCO´s Slave Route project, in which he advanced new insights into the history of plantation systems in the Caribbean.
Professor Dominic Shellard, the University´s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Affairs, will preside over the two degree ceremonies, which will see local students graduating with PhD degrees, Masters of Education degrees and Postgraduate Certificates from the University´s prestigious School of Education.
The Trinidad ceremony will take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain, at 7.00 pm on Thursday 29 January 2009. The honorary graduand is Professor Gordon Rohlehr.
The St Lucia ceremony will take place at Bay Gardens Hotel, Rodney Bay, at 5.00pm on Sunday 1 February 2009. The honorary graduand is Gregor Williams.