Mon | May 27, 2024

UTech leadership vows student-centric changes, prioritising quality education

Dr Kevin Brown, Allie McNab officially installed

Published:Saturday | April 13, 2024 | 12:09 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Ambassador Lloyd Carney (left), chancellor of The University of Technology Jamaica (Utech), presents the instrument of office to Dr Kevin Brown, president of UTech, during an installation ceremony at the institution’s Papine, St Andrew, main campus on Th
Ambassador Lloyd Carney (left), chancellor of The University of Technology Jamaica (Utech), presents the instrument of office to Dr Kevin Brown, president of UTech, during an installation ceremony at the institution’s Papine, St Andrew, main campus on Thursday.
Dr Kevin Brown, the fifth president of The University of Technology, Jamaica, addressing the audience.
Dr Kevin Brown, the fifth president of The University of Technology, Jamaica, addressing the audience.
Aldrick McNab (left) is congratulated by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen shortly after he was installed as the fifth pro-chancellor of The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), on Thursday. Looking on are Lady Allen (second right) and Ambassador Ll
Aldrick McNab (left) is congratulated by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen shortly after he was installed as the fifth pro-chancellor of The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), on Thursday. Looking on are Lady Allen (second right) and Ambassador Lloyd Carney, UTech chancellor.
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The leadership of the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica has made it clear that it is dedicated to improving the experience of its students and the quality of educational resources.

Aldrick McNab, the university’s fifth pro-chancellor, and Dr Kevin Brown, the fifth president of the institution and the first-ever UTech alumnus to hold this role, were installed on Thursday.

Both men stressed the significance of shaping the next generation’s perspectives to secure their successful futures.

In his address, McNab stated: “Education isn’t something you can finish [as] the capacity to learn ... is a skill [and] the willingness to learn is a matter of choice.”

He went on to say that he was grateful for the chance to be a part of the process of higher learning and developing the skill sets of UTech students, “who will navigate, dictate and perhaps even illustrate what the future Jamaica will look like”.

“I’d like to assure all of you that there’s a new dawn that’s dawning. A new chancellor is in place, a new president is in place, and yours truly, a new pro-chancellor. We hear your cry. We know what you need. We are committed to delivering as much as we can for you. Yes, talk is cheap, and it’s actions that count, [but] the wind of change is here, and it started blowing over the UTech campus,” he declared.

Brown disclosed the different areas of transformation that the university will experience.

As part of his mission, Brown aims to “reset” UTech’s academic atmosphere to better prepare students for a changing society, including those brought about by technological advancements.

He said that this “reset” also serves as an acronym, where UTech will be research-driven, will expand access, prioritise its students, and will be more entrepreneurial and technology-focused.

According to Brown, an agreement has already been reached, wherein the university will start providing stackable certificates prior to students completing their final year of study.

“We have agreed that we will ensure ... that we will upgrade our infrastructure,” he stated.

This, he added, has already begun, with many courses aligned to the technological changes of society and include, for example, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“We also will look at how we can matriculate students from a range of backgrounds. We have to expand our access ... . We need to produce more achievers and some of them will come from left field, right field, [and] UTech has to learn to accommodate them,” he added.

Referring to UTech as a “national treasure”, Brown concluded his address by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve the university in the capacity of president.

In a tearful moment, the impassioned Brown stated that his life was transformed when he was a student at the university and that he was looking forward to working with staff and students at all levels to see the institution flourish.

In a show of gratitude, as most of his address was spent thanking notable individuals who have played various roles in guiding him to where he is today, Brown recognised his family for their unwavering support in all his endeavours and acknowledged some individuals he encountered and those he made connections with over his professional life, along with the staff at UTech.

“UTech creates leaders of tomorrow, and oftentimes I say, ‘Jamaica, do not neglect UTech. This university has been playing our role in developing this country, in producing quality graduates, and so coming home, [my] mission is to produce more of the same,” he said.

Brown, whose appointment took effect on September 11, 2023, will serve as president of UTech for a period of five years.

He has been a trailblazer in academia and the aerospace industry for over 18 years. He is a technical expert in complex and integrated aerospace structural system design and a thought leader in transport systems, engineering materials and numerical computational analysis.

In his most recent role, he served as technology project lead for civil aerospace technology and future programmes at Rolls-Royce, a leading global aerospace company and provider of jet engines for commercial and defence aircraft.

Patent in America, Britain

He is an inventor and holds a patent in America and Britain. Brown is also an entrepreneur and co-founder of a start-up company in telecommunications.

Prior to joining Rolls-Royce, he was a research fellow in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham for five years. He has authored and won multimillion-pound research grant proposals and has published 22 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers. Over the last 20 years, Brown has held several leadership roles, established a range of initiatives and worked closely with politicians, government ministries, agencies and departments, as well as the private sector and non-governmental organisations.

Meanwhile, McNab is an eminent sportsman, broadcaster, and entrepreneur. He was appointed UTech’s fifth pro-chancellor with effect from December 4, 2023.

His achievements as a national footballer and coach followed from his glittering football career as a student of Cornwall College, where he led his school’s football team to the daCosta Cup and Olivier Shield honours in 1963. He also played professional football in the United States and had a short stint with clubs in Toronto, Canada, before returning home to Jamaica in 1970.

He went on to serve as captain and later coach, and then managed the national football team over his career in the sport. He was highly regarded as one of the best strikers ever produced by Jamaica.

McNab also holds the distinction of representing Jamaica in track and field athletics, being one of the country’s top 100m sprinters.

His broadcasting career spanned some 30 years, with him covering a variety of sporting events, including the Olympics of 1984 in Los Angeles and local anchoring of Word Cups in tennis, netball, cricket, and other sports disciplines.

McNab also made his mark as a successful business entrepreneur, owning and operating a petrol station – McNab’s Texaco – for over 15 years. He also ventured into manufacturing, owning and operating Chrystal lce for 10 years, before entering the advertising field where he owned and operated Visual Vibe Limited, a leading LED/video board advertising company in Jamaica.

McNab holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from St Louis University in the US and a bachelor’s degree in commercial arts from Ontario College of Art, Canada.

For his services to sports development in Jamaica, he was conferred with the Order of Distinction in 2012 and recognised by the diaspora, which, in 2014, bestowed him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com