From College to University of The Bahamas: A Noble Legacy
University of The Bahamas was chartered on 10th November 2016 by an Act of Parliament of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. UB had its genesis in the College of The Bahamas which came into force in 1974 through the amalgamation of four institutions: The Bahamas Teachers’ College, San Salvador Teachers’ College, C.R. Walker Technical College and the sixth form programme of the Government High School. In February 1977, when the then Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Rt. Hon. Lynden O. Pindling, officially opened the College, he foreshadowed that the institution would eventually become the University of The Bahamas: “And after all of this, what will we have? Ten years from now we will have developed the University of The Bahamas….and the College of The Bahamas will have given way to the University of The Bahamas.” With these words, the creation of the University was inevitable.
When first established, the College’s academic offerings were limited to associate degrees, certificates and diplomas. However, compelled by the need to help to develop the human capital necessary to build a more prosperous and competitive Bahamas, the College accelerated its undergraduate programme development and, in the early 1990s, introduced baccalaureate degree programmes in a variety of disciplines such as Business, Education, Science and Nursing. Indeed, at the time of its transition to the University of The Bahamas, the College was offering some five bachelor degree programmes in approximately fifty-five majors.
In June 1995, landmark legislation granted the College full autonomy of its aﬀairs and expanded its mandate. With the passage of this Act, the institution became a corporate entity under the governance of an 11-member College of The Bahamas Council. The extended mandate and responsibilities necessitated a new organisational structure and gave the College greater autonomy in the management of its operations and finances. It also empowered the institution to seek and receive private funding and changed its financial system from public to private accounting.
During academic year 1997-98, the College brought together a strategic planning task force composed of representatives of all major stakeholders – faculty, staff, students, alumni, leaders from public and private sector organisations and members of the general public – to develop a strategic plan. The plan’s commitments, goals and strategies were intended to initiate formally the momentous journey to university status and to achieve and enhance excellence in the conduct of its core academic mission and other commitments. Revised in 2003, the actions emerging from the plan were to shape the University of The Bahamas.
In recognition of the need to develop an infrastructure which would support university status, the institution established new offices and departments and, in 1998, restructured the academic departments into three faculties covering nine schools with each faculty headed by an Academic Dean. The nomenclature for faculty was changed from lecturer and senior lecturer to assistant professor, associate professor and professor. The College also introduced generous paid study leave opportunities so that Bahamian faculty and staff could upgrade their credentials. Also in 1998, the then Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham, presented in Parliament a three-year development plan for the College which included the Government’s commitment to facilitating the transition of the College into a University.
In August 2000, The Bahamas Hotel Training College was amalgamated with the institution, producing the School of Hospitality and Tourism Studies, later known as the Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute. In the same year, a Bachelor of Laws in conjunction with the University of the West Indies was offered; the institution later added a Bachelor of Pharmacy in conjunction with the University of Technology, Jamaica, to its programme offerings.
Cognizant of the need to further expand its offerings and make graduate programmes available at the institution, in 2001 the College offered its first graduate programme, the Master of Education in School Counselling with Kent State University. The College continued to offer graduate programmes with other international partners such as the Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology with the Iowa-based Ashford University and a Master of Science in Library and Information Science by the University of South Florida. Kent State University’s Master of Education degrees in Special Education and Educational Administration, and Massachusetts-based Wheelock College’s Master of Science degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Teaching have also been facilitated by The College. The College offered its first independent graduate degree, a Master of Business Administration, in Fall 2010 and later added a Master of Science in Reading with a concentration in Inclusive Education.