It is with deep regret that I learned of the death of Professor Emeritus Selwyn Ryan. I extend to his wife Jan, his children Michele and Kwame and other relatives my deepest sympathy at this time of their grief. It is my hope that they will be comforted by reflecting on the many good times they shared and the legacy of his outstanding scholarship and advocacy. Among them were his contributions to public discourse in his weekly columns in the Trinidad and Tobago Express over the decades and his contributions to several national, regional and international commissions and symposia. Indeed, his critical thinking will continue to resonate. He was truly an outstanding political historian who helped us to understand the reality of the Caribbean Region in the context of a changing world.
My association with Selwyn dates back to the mid 1970s, when he joined the staff of UWI, St. Augustine but specifically in the mid 1980s when he was appointed Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) St Augustine while I was University Director for the Institute’s regional programme. Together with Prof. Joycelyn Massiah, Director of ISER Cave Hill, I believe we helped to sustain and even rebrand the Institute as a focal point of new directions in Caribbean economic and social policy research and the use of the new information and data collection technologies. The proliferation of studies, seminars and publications attest to the Institute’s critical role. Also, the ability of the Institute to attract endowments to support research for the Faculty of Social Sciences and for its outreach and partnerships with institutions and agencies regionally and globally are worthy of note.
Central to these feats were Selwyn’s abounding zeal and intellectual leadership. What better illustration than his prolific scholarship including 25 books; his contribution to the viability of the Caribbean Studies Association, of which he was President 1990-1991; his acclaim as a pollster through the St Augustine Research Associates (SARA); his nurturing of young scholars by his engagement in the classroom. In addition to his assuming the role of University Director of ISER in 1994, he oversaw its transition to The Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) in 1999 in a merger with the Consortium Graduate School in the Social Sciences established in 1985.
Beyond the world of academia, Selwyn reveled in the cultural expressions of the Caribbean. He played mass at Carnival with fervor; was a fanatic of steel band music and the annual panorama. He was indeed a raconteur with a cutting wit, whose company was a delight to share.
GOFAD is pleased to reproduce the review of Ryan Recalls by Professor Compton Bourne carried in its Blog November 11, 2019. This last of his 25 books is a fitting tribute which at the launch, his last public appearance, he referred to that book as his best work and on whose ideas he hoped young scholars would build. For all these reasons and more he will live on in our memories as the man in truly was: a treasured mentor, colleague and friend.
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.