Hilary Beckles

UNU Council Member; Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies

UNU Centre

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI).

He is a distinguished academic, international thought leader, United Nations committee official, and global public activist in the field of social justice and minority empowerment.

Sir Hilary is a director of SAGICOR Financial Corporation PLC, the largest financial company in the Caribbean region; Chairman of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC); former chairman of The University of the West Indies Press; Chairman of the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice; President of Universities Caribbean; an editor of the UNESCO General History of Africa series; and a Director of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre. He has also served as an advisor to the UN World Culture Report and Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Sustainable Development; past Vice President of the International Task Force for the UNESCO Slave Route Project; and past consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme.

He has received numerous awards, including Honorary Doctor of Letters from Brock University, University of Glasgow, University of Hull, and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, in recognition of his major contribution to academic research into transatlantic slavery, popular culture, and sport. In 2017, the Town of Hartford (Connecticut, USA) declared 21 March as Sir Hilary Beckles Day in recognition of his global contribution to social justice and human equality. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Award for global advocacy, academic scholarship and intellectual leadership in support of social justice, institutional equity, and economic development for marginalised and oppressed ethnicities and nations.

Under his leadership as Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, the institution established a fifth Campus – the Five Islands Campus in Antigua and Barbuda – and debuted in the prestigious Times Higher Education  Ranking in 2019 when it was ranked in the top 4% of the world’s best universities. In 2020, The UWI earned a “triple first” accolade as the number one university in the Caribbean, among the top 1% in Latin America, and among the top 1% of worldwide universities between 50 and 80 years old. Continuing its upward trajectory, in 2021, The UWI was ranked among the top 1.5% of universities ranked globally by the Times Higher Education. Sir Hilary spearheaded an aggressive global reputation-building strategy that has resulted in ten global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. He also forged strategic industry partnerships to allow for the widened penetration of The UWI brand through new media channels and 24/7 cable television programming made possible by the creation of a public information and education service – UWITV.

Sir Hilary has lectured extensively in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas and has published over 100 peer-reviewed essays in scholarly journals and more than 20 academic books.