Public-Private Partnership Hailed in Development of New Graduate Centre
Named after a benefactor who has championed the transformative potential of higher education, the Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre at the University of The Bahamas’ Oakes Field Campus was officially opened on 17thMay, signifying a milestone in the University’s infrastructural growth.
The multimillion dollar facility will operate as a centre of excellence that provides the critical resources needed for students who are pursuing graduate degree programmes. It houses a conference room, classrooms, faculty lounge, student lounge and administrative office spaces. Another key feature is the RBC Royal Bank Auditorium, which is intended to be a focal point for RBC’s support of the next generation of leaders as they prepare for the future world of work.
Delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis said UB holds tremendous promise for national development.
“The ongoing institutional development and advancement of the University of The Bahamas is essential for national development. Critical to this process are graduate and doctoral programs, inclusive of research, which may help in our national development,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
The Prime Minister also lauded Sir Franklyn’s longstanding commitment to tertiary education.
“We are grateful for his many years of service to the development of The College of The Bahamas, which now enjoys university status because of the efforts of individuals like Sir Franklyn. He helped to secure funding for a number of projects. This included his personal donation of funds,” he added.
He hailed the centre as another example of how public-private sector partnerships may aid the common good.
The centre came to fruition through a $1 million gift from legacy donors Sir Franklyn Wilson, KCMG, and his wife Sharon Lady Wilson (the first private donors to the project); a $1 million donation from RBC Royal Bank; and another $1 million contribution from the Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, along with additional support from the Canadian Friends of the College of The Bahamas and Sunshine Holdings Ltd.
During the ceremony, Sir Franklyn spoke passionately about the growth that he has witnessed and in which he has been involved as a former Chairman of the College Council, benefactor and partner and support of higher learning. He acknowledged the contributions of everyone – including successive political administrations – who have worked to build the institution and environment for tertiary education to thrive.
While acknowledging UB as a significant national institution, he also sounded a clarion call.
“Today is about 60 months from when our country will make its 50thanniversary of independence. By any measure that will be a significant occasion. Future generations will have lots of questions about these 50 years. This reality speaks to the urgent need to properly and objectively capture relevant information,” he noted.
“It would be so unfair – tragic really – if we do no more than leave it to some future generation to try and figure out, as best as that future generation can, what really happened during the first 50 years. This sense of urgency is highlighted today precisely because it is this graduate centre that the country must look to for the most intense and sustained degree of action designed to move us past simply talking and wishing. This institution is where we must first look,” Sir Franklyn added.
UB President Dr. Rodney D. Smith thanked all of the partners who have demonstrated their commitment to graduate studies at UB and the subsequent impact on the nation. He also expressed gratitude for Sir Franklyn’s leadership.
“I do not know Sir Franklyn as a man who says “no”, but instead, “how can we make it possible?” This zeal for success and accomplishment has made him the astute businessman that he is today. It is our hope, that our students engender this same “can do” approach to their studies, their careers, their lives,” President Smith said.
“In addition to this wonderful facility, I am looking forward to the groundbreaking for the state-of-the-art University Student Centre, for which Sir Franklyn and Lady Wilson have already demonstrated leadership in the fundraising effort with a generous initial donation. I thank them for their generosity,” he added.
Mr. Kirk Dudtschak, Executive Vice President, Regional Banking at RBC Royal Bank noted that it was humbling to fully appreciate what the centre represents.
“It is the concrete realization today of a shared vision – one that started a decade ago as a simple conversation – a conversation between government, its citizens, the university and business; about what was possible by working together and working for a common goal. To see that shared vision and that collaboration realized today is truly gratifying,” Mr. Dudtschak said.
“For RBC, this Centre is something even more. It is a very real expression of our commitment to the country and the entire Caribbean region,” he added.
The Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre is the second new multimillion dollar facility that UB dedicated this month. The first was Hawksbill Hall, a residential facility at UB-North in Grand Bahama. A recommissioning ceremony for the newly refurbished Portia M. Smith Building, a student services hub, will be held next month.
Office of University Relations
Keva M. Bethel Building
Ph: (242) 302-4366/4354/4355