The University College of the Cayman Islands celebrated the academic achievements of the class of 2015 at a commencement ceremony on Thursday.
The class of 2015 included 236 graduating students, 148 of whom walked in the commencement ceremony Thursday evening.
This year, UCCI awarded three master’s degrees, seven graduate diplomas, 2 graduate certificates, 34 bachelor of science degrees, 22 associate of applied science degrees, 95 associate of arts degrees, 22 associate of science degrees, 11 associate in legal studies degrees, nine professional certificates and 31 certificates.
Rafael Elias, who received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration (Finance), was this year’s valedictorian.
Hugh Small received the UCCI Board of Governors Award, recognizing contributions to campus life, and the UCCI Omega Leo Club received the Mary Anne Cannon Award recognizing acts demonstrating a sense of duty and service to others.
The college also awarded three honorary doctorates this year, to Heber Arch, managing director and chairman of the board of directors of Arch and Godfrey; Henry Muttoo, artistic director of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation; and Burns Rutty, a businessman and former member of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council.
The commencement speaker was Greg R. Weisenstein, president of West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Mr. Weisenstein served on advisory committees under U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and led the restructuring of higher education in the Republic of Moldova for the U.S. Department of State.
The ceremony also included a moment of silence for the late Dean of Administration, Perry George, who passed away in April. He received a posthumous faculty achievement award for his leadership in the administration and management of UCCI.
The theme of the ceremony was “Challenges and Achievements: Now and Beyond.”
During his commencement address, UCCI President Roy Bodden said the 2014 to 2015 academic year was “resoundingly successful.”
“That such successes have been achieved is due, in no small consideration, to the conscientious, committed and considerate faculty and staff who continue to perform creditably under sometimes challenging circumstances,” Mr. Bodden said.
He noted that the college is working toward filling important needs in Cayman society with teacher education and nursing programs, and that work has begun on a social work degree program to be launched in the fall of 2016.
“Over the course of the past five years, the University College has significantly increased its stature as the premier tertiary level institution in the Cayman Islands. As a corollary to this significant achievement, the institution is rapidly gaining prestige and credibility as one with internationally accepted academic standards,” Mr. Bodden said.