While UCCI’s 2015 commencement celebrated the hard work of dozens of its graduates, the highest form of recognition bestowed at the October ceremony was reserved for three of Cayman’s most notable contributors.
Heber Arch, Henry Muttoo and Granville Burns Rutty each received the college’s highest award, an honorary doctorate.
The honorary degree is reserved for individuals who have made a positive and lasting contribution to the development of the Cayman Islands, in a range of fields.
Mr. Muttoo, artistic director at the Cayman Islands Cultural Foundation, gave an address on behalf of himself and fellow honorees, thanking the college for the honorary degree, which he said “recognizes the worth of those whose work has been largely unsung but has, nevertheless, made a lasting contribution to and for the betterment of these Cayman Islands.”
“What is truly ours, what is Caymanian, is what the cultural foundation has been attempting to excavate and share over the last 30 years, and that is precisely why this initiative of yours – awarding the university’s highest honor to deserving citizens – is of critical importance,” Mr. Muttoo said.
Mr. Muttoo, who received an honorary doctorate of arts, was recognized for his positive impact on the arts and culture of the Cayman Islands and throughout the Caribbean. He said it was “humbling” to receive the degree.
Mr. Muttoo has been artistic director at CNCF for 26 years, and he has also worked as a theater arts practitioner throughout the Caribbean, designing or directing for major artists, including Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott.
Mr. Muttoo said he is proud that he was able to help bring the topics of culture and art “from behind the breadfruit tree” to the forefront of people’s consciousness and recognize those who were making artistic contributions by helping to get their work disseminated to the public.
In his address, Mr. Muttoo told UCCI graduates to “defy anyone who tries to keep you in what they think is your place” while striving to achieve their goals.
“As Caymanians – however you came by that identity – your first order of business is to work to build a country in which you want to live, in which you want your children and grandchildren to live,” Mr. Muttoo told the graduates.
Mr. Rutty also believes that graduates should consider how they can give back to their country.
He said Cayman’s young people might be guided by President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
“They should embrace the opportunities that are now available in Cayman,” Mr. Rutty said.
The college awarded Mr. Rutty with an honorary doctorate in business to recognize his contribution to the political and economic development of the Cayman Islands, particularly the development of commerce.
“I thought it was an honor, and at my age I was glad to be recognized,” Mr. Rutty said.
Mr. Rutty, who was born in Cayman Brac in 1932, studied hotel management in Florida. He said that during his time in Florida, he recognized business opportunities he thought would work in Cayman.
Mr. Rutty began his professional career in the Cayman Islands in 1957 as the general manager of the Pageant Beach Hotel. He was also a founding member of the Sleep Inn Hotel, and founded the Comfort Suites in 2000.
Over the years he also ventured outside of the hotel industry. Along with Capt. Bob Soto, Mr. Rutty started Sport Fishing Headquarters, which later became Bob Soto Diving. That was the first of many businesses Mr. Rutty would start, as diverse as laundromats, low-cost apartment rentals, and restaurants, including Cayman’s first fast food restaurant, Burger King.
Outside of his business ventures, Mr. Rutty is well known for his contributions to Cayman politics. He won a seat in the Legislative Assembly in 1962 as a representative for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Mr. Rutty is proud of what he accomplished during his tenure as an MLA, especially his firm stance that the Cayman Islands should remain an Overseas Territory rather than go independent with Jamaica and the West Indian Federation.
Mr. Arch, a founding partner and director of Building Performance Americas Ltd., received an honorary doctorate in business for his contribution to the development of the Cayman Islands. When he was told he would be receiving the honor, he said he was “shocked, very excited and humbled at the same time as I questioned, ‘why me?’”
Mr. Arch, who is managing director and chairman of the board of construction company Arch and Godfrey, has 39 years of experience in engineering and construction across the Caribbean and the U.S. He has served on numerous government boards and committees, including a nine-year tenure as chairman of the board of the Central Planning Authority. In 1998, he was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his service to the community and the construction industry. He has also received several other awards for his contributions to Cayman’s development.
“In my opinion, wealth, possessions or accomplishments are not a true measure of true success,” Mr. Arch said. “True success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile goal which is only fully achieved when one focuses on his or her spiritual development as well as personal achievements.”
Mr. Arch said he loves the islands with all his “heart, soul and mind” and therefore always endeavors to “contribute as much as I can in everything that I can to our ‘Beloved Isle Cayman.’” He said he hopes Cayman will remain a “God-fearing country where all of its people can have the opportunity to develop their full potential in every aspect of their lives” and be “a place where each person will respect and build up each other, a place where dreams can become reality.” He encourages recent UCCI graduates to “be the best person you can be.”
“Be yourself, develop an exemplary character, be passionate about your vocation, be kind and generous, always striving to make your island a better place for those who will follow after you,” Mr. Arch said.