ICCI celebrates 40 years

Forty years ago, from a seed of an
idea in Portland, Oregon, a lovely garden grew from the roots of a small,
private endeavour – the International College of the Cayman Islands.

That is how trustee and
decades-long supporter Amy (Wood-Kline) Gage described the humble, yet
inspirational beginnings of ICCI nearly a half-century ago in Portland, where
she and her husband Fred met Hugh and Elsa Cummings, and like-minded friends
began discussing the idea of developing a college in Cayman. Amy was from West
End, the Brac, and Elsa’s roots were in Grand Cayman, so the idea to return to
the homeland was embraced. Forty years to the date of the college’s opening,
friends, students, alumni and supporters surrounded the founders and those who
did the work to get ICCI up and running, at a gala evening at the Westin
Causurina resort.

A movie reel from the early days
played in the background, alumnus Anthony Eden mastered the master of
ceremonies duties with favorite jokes, and Devon Edie provided smooth and
classy jazz amid the twinkling lights and “star-studded” audience.

Keynote speaker Carlyle McLaughlin,
an alumnus, trustee, the person who started the building fund and the one who
provides new computers when they are needed, talked about the opportunity the
college afforded him, and spoke of the generosity, kindness and dedication of
Dr. Hugh, as everyone called founder Hugh Cummings.

“It was the passing of Dr. Hugh
that triggered the role I have been playing in the last ten years,” Mr.
McLaughlin said. “When he passed, I said, what could I do to ensure that his
memory and his wife’s memory live on?

“Dr. Hugh was the person who gave
me the inspiration to more forward,” he said, adding that this was the
motivation for him to start giving back to the institution that had meant to
much to him, and had enabled him to achieve the heights of a very successful
career. He retired as a senior partner after 25 years of service with Ernst
& Young.

Dr. Hugh was the one who helped
make it possible, Mr. McLaughlin said, recounting the story of  the day he graduated as valedictorian of
Triple C School in 1973.  Though he had a
job, he wasn’t earning enough money to pay for a college education.

“Dr. Hugh approached me and told me
to come to ICCI,” Mr. McLaughlin recalled. “I said I couldn’t afford it, and he
said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ll get you a scholarship.’” Ultimately, Dr.
Hugh gave him a $100 scholarship, which in those days was enough.

To this day, Mr. McLaughlin said,
he doesn’t know where that money came from, and he never asked. “But I suspect
it cam from Dr. Hugh’s pocket,” he said, his voice full of emotion.

Dr. Hugh’s, John H. Cummings II,
the current ICCI president, talked about the future of ICCI, and noted that the
future looks bright: some 220 students are enrolled for the new term; the
college will break ground on a classroom building in November; and work on a
new parking lot is about to get under way.

“It has been a great honour serving
ICCI,” he said, “and it has been a great honour preserving Elsa and Hugh’s
legacy.

Others who were or still are
involved with the college for many years, including many who overcame enormous
hardships to keep it open in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, also were
recognized, including trustees Dorothy Scott and Lucille Seymour, and words of
praise were also delivered by John Cummings’ son Scott Cummings, the college’s
dean.

Among those singled out for special
recognition were President Emerita Elsa Cummings, National Hero Jim Bodden,
Floris McCoy McField, Vernett Bodden and UCCI President Roy Bodden.

Supporters were encouraged to join
the nonprofit Friends of ICCI, online at myicci.com/Friends

Other activities held over the
weekend included an open house at ICCI on Saturday, and special services at two
churches on Sunday.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Yes, and it was very appropriate that Dr Cummings was recognised by the British Government with his Honorary MBE; there were quite a few Caymanians at the time who, whatever their reasons, did not welcome this well-deserved award.

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