The University College of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Civil Service College celebrated an historic first yesterday with the official opening of its joint Cayman Brac Campus in Stake Bay.
Dozens of dignitaries joined a capacity crowd in celebrating the opening with an inaugural ceremony, official ribbon cutting, a campus tour and refreshments.
‘We are showing that our actions match our words in providing tertiary education for everyone in the Cayman Islands,’ said UCCI President Hassan Syed.
There were more than a few Brackers both born and bred in the crowd, including Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, Designate Civil Service chief Mary Rodrigues and Chief Secretary George McCarthy, who noted the historic opening coincidentally fell on his birthday.
Many speakers noted the hard work and dedication of many behind the scenes players, as well as the vision and commitment of both government and civil society to bring the project to fruition. For years, plans had been brewing to bring tertiary education to the Sister Islands and many praised the current team behind the project for making it a reality, with construction taking place in record time.
The campus’ first students have already crossed the threshold, although it was clear the 12 computer studies students were only as taste of what’s to come.
‘We want our Brac students to be assured that all our equipment is brand new, everything is state of the art – there are no hand-me downs at this campus,’ said IT instructor Greg Fiedler.
With four shiny new classrooms that comfortably fit 20 students each, the college promises to be a hub of activity in coming months as classes roll out.
At present, a range of short Civil Service College courses are on offer, which will be boosted by the campuses first round of UCCI courses kicking off in the spring term which begins in May.
That will also provide enough time for the set-up of a video conferencing system that will allow students to attend lectures being held on Grand Cayman in real time. Students will also have the option of online coursework, as well as first-hand instruction.
Interest has been unprecedented. So far, over 300 students have pre-registered, an astounding number considering Cayman Brac’s small population, and clearly indicating that the campus will be filling a much-needed and much-anticipated demand in the community.
Due to the soft roll-out of courses, the campus presently has only one hard-working staff member, Martin Keeley, although he’ll be joined by administrators and more instructors as the term progresses.
‘As a Bracker, this means so much to me, a realization of a dream that all can finally have access to tertiary education in the Sister Islands,’ said Mrs. Rodrigues.
With the exciting prospects in store for this campus, the future is ripe with possibilities.