NCU Fetes Alumni at the 2015 Homecoming
NCU rolled out the red carpet to thank its alumni for their support of the institution at the October 8-11 2015 Homecoming. The impressive show-and-tell over the weekend of activities was a stirring spiritual experience for alumni while also showcasing the university’s latest advances and plans for the continuing transformation and evolution of the institution in both academic and spiritual spheres.
Among a number of new initiatives, alumni heard about the expansion of the sciences; the launch of distance education with some 125 online courses on offer, in conjunction with continued advancement in the area of cutting-edge computer and telephone technology; the purchase of some 1,300 acres of lush agricultural land complete with a river and wells, in anticipation of its development into an industrial complex; alliances struck with other universities; and the heightened programme of spiritual awareness on campus, including the introduction of a day of prayer and two separate annual weeks of prayer.
Looking ahead, new capital development projects will include a new worship centre, a modern female student housing complex, and an information technology centre. In a tour of the proposed industrial complex property, alumni heard of plans for a bottled water production facility that is expected to be the first industry to be launched. Alumni also heard that the university’s bakery will re-open in the near future.
Cayman Alumni at Homecoming and Cayman-based students at NCU
Attending the alumni function from the Cayman Islands, President of the Alumni Chapter Cayman (ACKy), Ms Patricia Ebanks, and ACKy member Mrs. Georgia Issacs, an NCU-trained nurse who was recently honoured by the chapter for medical services to the Cayman Islands. Mrs. Issacs sang in the inspiring Homecoming Reunion Vesper and Praise Service, and represented the Cayman Islands in the AY tableau “Heritage of Our Faith … The Ancestral Journey,” that creatively told the story of the beginning and progression of Adventism.
For Ms. Ebanks, meeting with ten of the 12 Cayman students currently attending NCU was a highpoint.
“The meeting with the students was the highlight of my visit. I was greatly encouraged and inspired by the comments by the students on their perceptions of the academic standards of the university, the relationship they had with their lecturers, and the very positive impression they had of the scholarship of their peers,” Ms Ebanks said. “I was impressed with the young people themselves and was so heartened about the quality education that they are receiving, equally in academics and character building, and in the nurturing and support of their spiritual journey.”
Ms Ebanks said that she hoped that more Caymanian students would have the opportunity to experience NCU’s well-rounded experience, one of the goals of ACKy.
Alumni had a taste of the academic atmosphere at NCU when they sat in on a public lecture on the topic of “Cancer: Is the Cure in your Backyard?” The lecture was arranged by NCU Graduate Studies and Research Faculty, in collaboration with the Carnegie Foundation for Cancer Research, a non-profit organization affiliated with NCU’s Department of Research and Grants primarily advocating research on cures for different types of cancer. The lecture was delivered by a research scientist from Jamaica’s Scientific Research Council (SRC).
The weekend’s activities culminated with the annual endowment fund gala, at which a former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Honourable Galmo "Gilley" Williams, was guest speaker. Mr. Williams’ support of NCU was demonstrated in the form of a cheque for US$25,000 presented to President Trevor Gardner, and a pledge for an additional US$40,000 to be released over the next four years. Pledges and direct donations at the gala, totalling more some US$35,000, brought the overall endowment fund to in excess of the US$1 million mark for the first time since the fund was re-launched in 2003, when it stood at US$62 million.
A healthy endowment fund, said President Gardner, was critical as in the ideal circumstances the university should not have to depend solely on tuition for funding its operations and taking care of ever-pressing student needs.
A large number of students arrive at NCU with little or no family support, said Mrs. Donna Fraser, who is responsible for the disbursement of scholarships and other non-tuition funds to students. Alumni learned, for example, that students are assisted in non-tuition needs to the tune of J$2.8 million (nearly US$24,000) annually and that demand continues for scholarships. Mrs. Fraser said that she was grateful to a core group of alumni whom she calls on regularly to assist in emergency situations.
Meanwhile, President Gardner said plans are in discussion for an initiative aimed at engaging international bodies in a bid to attract students better able to pay relative to many students from the local Jamaica population.
ACKy Discussions with NCU President
Ms Ebanks took the opportunity to meet with President Gardner to discuss potential ACKy/NCU partnerships and other possible Cayman-based initiatives.
For a pictorial on the weekend’s activities, including group photographs of Caymanian students at NCU, please link here to the Photo Gallery.