Keynote Speaker

Picture of Professor Hilary Beckles

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Vice Chancellor – The University of the West Indies

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI). He is a distinguished academic, international thought leader, United Nations committee official, and global public activist in the field of social justice and minority empowerment.

Sir Hilary is a director of SAGICOR Financial Corporation PLC, the largest financial company in the Caribbean region, Chairman of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), the former chairman of The University of the West Indies Press, Chairman of the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice, President of Universities Caribbean, an editor of the UNESCO General History of Africa series and a Director of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre. He has also served as an advisor to the UN World Culture Report and Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Sustainable Development. He is a past Vice President of the International Task Force for the UNESCO Slave Route Project and a past consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme.

He has received numerous awards, including Honorary Doctor of Letters from Brock University, the University of Glasgow, University of Hull, University of the Virgin Islands and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, in recognition of his major contribution to academic research on transatlantic slavery, popular culture, and sport. In 2017, the Town of Hartford in the state of Connecticut (USA), declared 21st March, “Sir Hilary Beckles Day” in recognition of his global contribution to social justice and human equality. He received the Sisserou Award of Honour: Presented by the Government of Dominica and recently, The American Historical Association named him 2022 Honorary Foreign Member of the Association. Sir Hilary is also the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Award for global advocacy, academic scholarship and intellectual leadership in support of social justice, institutional equity, and economic development for marginalised and oppressed ethnicities and nations. Sir Hilary sits on the Council of the United Nations University and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Under his leadership as Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, the institution established a fifth Campus – the Five Islands Campus in Antigua and Barbuda, and debuted in the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Ranking in 2019 when it was ranked in the top 4% of the world’s best universities. In 2020 The UWI earned a “triple first” accolade – as the number one university in the Caribbean, among the top 1% in Latin America and top 1% of worldwide universities between 50 and 80 years old. Continuing its upward trajectory, in 2021, The UWI was ranked among the top 1.5% of universities ranked globally by the Times Higher Education. Sir Hilary has spearheaded an aggressive global reputation building strategy, which has resulted in ten global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. He also forged strategic industry partnerships to allow for the widened penetration of The UWI brand through new media channels and 24/7 cable television programming made possible by the creation of a public information and education service – UWITV.

Sir Hilary has lectured extensively in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas and has published over 100 peer reviewed essays in scholarly journals and more than 20 academic books.

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For the Biennial Rex Nettleford Arts Conference 2023.  Come and witness local, regional and global voices of artists, performers, art educators, policymakers, researchers and Arts practitioners.

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