Final preparations are being made for the eleventh commencement exercises for Belize’s national university. Over three hundred University of Belize graduates will receive their certificates during ceremonies on Saturday in Belmopan. Silvaana Udz is the Director of Public Relations for the University of Belize.

Silvaana Udz; Director of Public Relations, University of Belize

“This is a very significant graduation for two reasons. At this graduation we are launching the new undergraduate graduate gown for the University of Belize. Additionally this graduation is going to have as its guest speaker the Prime Minister of Belize, the Honorable Dean Barrow at the Belmopan ceremony which is this Saturday June 19. On Sunday we are also graduating at the Toledo campus and at that graduation the guest speaker is going to be Mr. Jeremy Enriquez who is the Director of Social Policy and Planning in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation. This graduation is also important because it culminates ten years of operations for the national university. It is the eleventh commencement exercise because in this year January we had the historic first time mid year graduation. The Prime Minister will be addressing some three hundred graduates from thirty three programs this Saturday but if you include the two hundred ninety five who graduated in January, as well as the Regional Language Centre’s graduates and the fifty three graduating from Toledo we are looking at a total of over seven hundred thirty six graduates for the 2009-2010 academic year.”

On June 23, UB’s Early Childhood Education Stimulation Center will hold its fifth “Moving On” ceremony for seventeen pre-schoolers who now will be entering Infant One in the primary school system. The theme for the June 2010 commencement exercises at UB is “Celebrating our 10th Anniversary: UB in Retrospect and Prospect.” Woods says that as the national university, the way forward looks good because as good foundation has been laid during the course of the first decade of service.

Silvaana Udz

“This graduation also will serve as the launch pad for a series of activities that celebrate the tenth anniversary of the country’s national university. We will be hearing a lot about that in the coming year and all the activities planned around that. This graduation therefore marks both the close of a decade of operations and the beginning of a new decade for the university.”

Patrick Jones, Reporter

Looking back what would you say was the greatest achievement in the first decade?

Silvaana Udz

“The first decade certainly from my perspective, and I was fortunate to have been with the University of Belize for its very first year of operations when it got going with its logo and all the initial start up. I have also been associated with the university on a part time basis up until ’05 when I went back to school so I feel confident then in saying that the greatest achievement to my mind has been forming the university family. Remember when UB amalgamated it was the coming together or five institutions. These institutions had their own management; their own organizational function. Marrying all this into what is still emerging as a university of Belize culture to my mind has been both the greatest achievement and the greatest challenge as it continues to be as we keep growing. For example, it would be very obvious if you look at the news at one of the most recent issues that is coming up is the retirement age; age 55. This is a part of the UB act section 29. At the time of amalgamation we had faculty from different institutions and it was felt then that the majority of faculty at the time felt that it would be both fair to all to go with the government plan of the day that still continues today; the law, the pension act and the retirement age of 55. However, if you look at trends in higher education of equal importance is the discussion of whether this should be considered or not. The university has no official position on this at this time but certainly this is something that as we move in to our second decade of operations will probably be appearing on the table of discussion.”