UB Recommissions Purpose-Built Student Hub Named After Beloved Administrator
12th June 2018
Nassau, BAHAMAS – The newly refurbished Portia M. Smith Building at University of The Bahamas (UB) is the latest capital development project to be unveiled as UB grows to become a world-class University.
Named in honour of a beloved former administrator, mentor and colleague whose dedication to the institution and the wellbeing of students inspired many to reach their heights of their own service excellence, the facility is a hub for services which support student success. On Thursday, 7th June, a recommissioning ceremony was held for the building following a $2 million renovation project.
Among the offices housed in the three-storey, purpose-built edifice are Records, Recruitment & Admissions, Scholarships and Financial Aid, Accounts Receivable, Dean of Students, Disabilities & Compliance and University Athletics. There is also a Ministry of Education bursary and grants office space – a first – and other administrative areas. Recent renovations have enhanced the convenience and centralisation for an overall improved environment for student services.
“University of The Bahamas is an institution that puts students first; students’ needs, students’ comforts, students’ access to education; processing of students’ information is a priority at UB….Nowadays our purpose is to make sure that the information and data that students need is readily available to them. Our students are in the information and technology age where more than likely they know more about technology than most of us do, even before they get to the class,” said President Smith. “The investment that we are putting into our students today is an investment in the future – our future and the future of our country.”
Reflecting on his mother’s dedication to students and the institution, Mr. Kimani Smith said the recommissioning marked another proud moment not only for the University but for their families. In jest he shared how many times his mother’s dedication to the then College of The Bahamas ran contrary to his own social agenda.
“Despite my personal agenda, one point that was never lost on me was that Portia Maria Smith loved COB, and now 20 years after her passing, we can proudly refer to it as the University of The Bahamas. Mummy was deeply committed to the students and to the growth and development of this institution. As I moved about at home and abroad I often encountered many students that she would have assisted along the way and I smiled as they affectionately recounted the many ways mummy would have helped them navigate the waters of college life,” he said. He also expressed the gratitude of his family to the University community for honouring her contributions.
President-Elect of the UB Student Government Association Onassis Nottage referred to the ongoing transformation at UB.
“Most people just see the Portia Smith building as just that, a building. When I learned about the history of this building, seeing it today, I see something that shows the country that we’re moving forward, slowly but surely we’re getting more organized and more savvy on technology because no matter what we do, there’s always room for improvement,” he said.
“I see something that shows the country we made some mistakes along the way, we had to close it down because of some issues, but we owned up to those mistakes, and instead of pretending that it never happened, we fixed it. I see something that shows the country change is inevitable; each and every one of us are agents of change.”
Since the early days of the institution, student services at the institution have been transformed with more improvements to come. Changes are evident in personnel, procedures and resources. The vision for what exists today is the brainchild of a woman who was well ahead of her time and whose legacy is distinct.
Portia Maria Campbell Smith served as both faculty and administrator during at tenure at COB; she lectured in the Teacher Education Division, was Coordinator of the College of The Bahamas/University of The West Indies Diploma in Education Programme, Chair of the Education Division, Assistant Registrar and Vice President of Administration. She was an extraordinary contributor to the development of education and the institution.
The refurbishment project commenced in January 2016 and included roof repairs, replacement of windows, and interior renovations. UB Assistant Professor Henry Hepburn was the architect and the engineering firm was Adrian V. Rollins Structural Engineering & Co.
Over the last few weeks, as it prepares its physical plant for an increase in student enrollment over the next decade, UB has dedicated two new multi-million dollar facilities: Hawksbill Hall at UB-North in Grand Bahama, a residential facility and the Franklyn. R. Wilson Graduate Centre at the Oakes Field Campus. In Fall 2018, the G.T.R. Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Centre will also be officially opened.
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