Sir Alister died on April 20, 2019. We mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Lady Marjorie Mc Intyre and children, Arnold, Andrew, Helga and Nicholas. I was privileged to pay tribute attention and the 2017 UWI Conference on the Economy that honored Sir Alister, which is reproduced below. It was entitled “Reflections on Sir Alister McIntyre- a unique brand and a colossus”. It may well have been: ‘expressing gratitude to Sir Alister for touching my life’
This is indeed an opportunity to pay tribute to a Caribbean icon who has made such a monumental contribution to regional and international developments. They encompass a creative vision and intellectual leadership that transformed academia, assisted in fashioning the regional integration movement and projected the role of the Caribbean within the construct of a new international economic order.
I knew of Alister McIntyre long before I met him. Those of us who studied in the University system and for that matter, anywhere in the UK in the 1960s, could not fail to be regaled with the outstanding academic feats of the brilliant Caribbean Student at the London School of Economic who graduated with First Class honours. Nor can those of us who followed the sad demise of the West Indies Federation in 1962, fail to recall the role of the formidable regional revival team of William Demas, Alister McIntyre and Shridath Ramphal which master minded CARIFTA and its transition to CARICOM.
For me whose seven (7) year stint of undergraduate and graduate studies was in the metropolis in the UK, Canada and the USA, the thirst for analysis on Caribbean economic development was largely quenched by several articles written by Alister McIntyre in the Journal for Social and Economic Studies and the New World Magazines. Most pertinent however for me, studying in Canada at the time, was his 1966 book with Kari Levitt on The Political Economy of Canadian-West Indian Relations.
When therefore in May 1968, the day after I completed my comprehensive examinations for the Ph.D at the University of British Columbia, l received a letter from the Registrar of UWI offering an appointment as a Junior Research Fellow at Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) St Augustine, I was ecstatic. It didn’t matter that the salary offered was less than my Canada Council Graduate Fellowship, I was returning to the region — and guess what— to work with Allister McIntyre who was by then Director of the ISER.
This had to be among the best professional decisions anyone could make. As it turned out, I was the beneficiary of Alister’s creative leadership and mentorship that supported, challenged, encouraged and trusted my ability and that of my colleagues. Among those who joined the McIntyre clan at the same time, was Edwin Carrington, who was to become the Secretary General of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Secretariat in Brussels and subsequently, CARICOM Secretary General for 18 years. In the latter position Sir Edwin walked in the footsteps of our mentor, “Mack”, and I served as his Assistant Secretary General (2000-2010).
In the intervening years, it was my good fortune — not once, but twice — to actually witness at close range, Alister in full flight: first, as his Deputy Director for ISER 1972-1974 on the Mona Campus, before he left academia to succeed his good friend Willie Demas as Secretary General of CARICOM, and second, in 1989-1993 as Pro Vice Chancellor after he assumed the Vice Chancellorship of UWI in 1988.
In the first period, we his Deputy Directors, which included Vaughan Lewis in Barbados and Jack Harewood in St Augustine, viewed with awe, the enormity of his portfolio of activities that required intellectual leadership and profound diplomatic instincts. In addition to his responsibility for guiding the research, publication, outreach and resource mobilization of ISER, he was Special Adviser to UNECLAC, the CARICOM Trade Delegation to Europe, and to several Prime Ministers and Governments on technical economic matters, simultaneously. He was also UWI’s representative on the Board of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes (UNICA), among many others.
In this context, he accurately reports in his recent book The Caribbean and the Wider World his difference with the prevailing view that ISER should give priority to the intellectual/academic rather than policies issues. I vividly recall his advocacy that if ISER were to maintain its relevance, its research must focus on addressing the problems of the communities to which it related and from which it drew basic support. This did not mean taking political sides. His views became guiding principles for the programme of work of ISER under Vaughan Lewis who succeeded him as Director in 1975 and me, who succeeded Vaughan in 1982.
During the second period, Alister’s leadership of UWI from 1988 will no doubt go down in history as the modernization of the University system. I was intricately involved in the first five years of his tenure as Vice Chancellor: co-opted to Mona’s rehabilitation committee in 1988 and then appointed Pro Vice Chancellor, Development and Alumni Relations 1989-93. His was the arduous task of leading the charge of rebuilding the Mona Campus after its devastation by the category 5 - Hurricane Gilbert on September 12, 1988, just 12 days after he arrived in Jamaica to take up the appointment as Vice Chancellor. It was a test to his fortitude and resolve that the campus was reopened on November 1, within the statutory regulations allowed for an academic year. The new Vice Chancellor marshaled his troops, and mobilized support, nationally, regionally and internationally to make this happen. Much of this success for the hurricane relief and rebuilding efforts was due to the rigour and persuasiveness of his presentations to insurance companies, the national and regional private sector and external donors and to the high esteem in which he was held.
Having stabilized the relief efforts, the Vice Chancellor initiated a 10 year development plan (1990-2000) with a series of priorities among which, to increase the university enrollment by 50% to 18,000 students, off campus enrollments to benefit the non Campus countries and research and development in Science and Technology. My Office of Development and Alumni Relations within the Vice Chancellory managed several projects including a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for Institutional Strengthening, and worked together with Prof. Compton Bourne, Pro Vice Chancellor, Planning and Development in designing and securing a substantial US$40M loan from the Inter American Development Bank under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor. These resource mobilization efforts of the Vice Chancellor triggered the enhancement of Faculties and student facilities on all three campuses and strengthened governance arrangements of the university system.
I was also particularly pleased that as the first Pro Vice Chancellor with responsibility for Alumni Relations in collaboration with the UWI Guild of Graduates whose President was Beverly Perreira, to have presided over initiating a plan for revamping the Alumni System, promoted by Vice Chancellor McIntyre as an integral component of the viability of the University. The “Gathering of Graduates” in April 1993 which brought together approximately 800 alumni (and approximately 1000 participants) headlined by Nobel Laureate, Dereck Walcott, remains etched in my memory as a tribute to Alister McIntyre and to its gracious patron, former Vice Chancellor, Sir Phillip Sherlock.
When Alister McIntyre retired as Vice Chancellor in 1998, he left the UWI on a trajectory of institutional viability and transformation as well as international credibility beyond all expectations. He would be the first to let you know that this was achieved because of robust teams he built along the way, the role of the Chancellor, Sir Shridath Ramphal and the succession planning that left many of those he mentored to continue the process.
But, I, and most of us, who were part of his administration, could reflect on the positive responses to these efforts to which I have referred. They were indeed largely due to the international reputation and wide ranging contacts of Alister McIntyre. He seemed to know all the influential players in the global arena. And this was no doubt as a result of the expansive reach of his distinguished academic career and profound reputation and contributions to the “Caribbean and the Wider World “
Throughout his journey, the role of his wife, Marjorie who stood beside him, has been inestimable. We commend her highly for her generosity of spirit in sharing her remarkable husband with so many of us for such an extended period. Enjoining her to this Tribute can only minimally compensate for our inadequate appreciation.
I struggled for a summary statement for this tribute and could find no more appropriate description of Alister McIntyre than the type of leader exalted in the writings of Charles Erwin Wilson: “a boss who makes others realize they have more ability than they think they have so they can consistently do better than they thought they could”.
For all these reasons and more, Sir Alister Mcintyre (Mack to most of us) is truly a unique Brand and a Colossus, which I am sure, will be immortalized and whose memory will remain undiminished.
Edward Greene, Professor Emeritus
4/22/2019 09:49:31 am
4/22/2019 09:54:53 am
Thanks for sharing this. The tribute really does connect the dots very well, to allow the bigger picture to emerge, even for those of us who were aware of the sterling contributions he had made.
4/22/2019 10:28:39 am
4/22/2019 10:09:52 am
Great one Eddie!
ANTHONY T. BRYAN
4/22/2019 10:36:36 am
4/22/2019 10:39:06 am
It was a privilege to have worked at UWI in Planning while Sir Allister was Vice Chancellor. I worked under then Pro Vice Chancellor (PVC) Bourne, in close association with then PVC Eddie Greene who led UWI’s Development and Alumni Relations. I saw then, firsthand, the Caribbean wide vision of Sir Alister's thinking and leadership. The UWI has to continue that leadership for a more unified Caribbean even as we manage the inevitable forces that push a fragmented view of the region. The governance units that add up to the regional CARICOM grouping have a role; however as a unified region we are stronger. The time I spent living in the federal countries of Canada and the USA allowed me to see the benefits of federalism first hand and for me that is the enduring legacy of the colossus Sir Alister: his advocacy in writing and praxis of the benefits to the Caribbean people of a deep federation.
4/22/2019 11:21:43 am
Thanks Eddie. Really wonderful tribute.
4/22/2019 12:06:54 pm
Eddie, Thanks for sharing! Great tribute to a Caribbean stalwart.
4/22/2019 04:13:31 pm
Dear Eddie, Thanks. We too, grieve at his loss. Roy
Claudia Mitchel Kernan
4/22/2019 04:36:00 pm
I was saddened to see that Sir Alister McIntyre had died and thought that your tribute to him was very moving.
Jasmine Thomas Girvan
4/22/2019 04:52:15 pm
4/22/2019 05:10:41 pm
Sir Alister's passing, though not so unexpected, still saddens me. He was a tower of a man. I used to think of him and Mr Demas as the "twin towers" that carried the intellectual underpinnings of Caribbean Regional Integration, much as the "twin towers" of cricket carried the WI team in the glory days.
4/22/2019 06:18:49 pm
4/22/2019 06:31:36 pm
Dear Eddie, Thanks for this wonderful tribute to Sir Alister. I feel privileged that I was able to know him. I had read his work as an Economics undergrad at UWI, and was at the Consortium Graduate School (that sounds so long ago) on Mona Campus when he became Vice Chancellor. However, I didn’t actually meet him until the mid-1990s. Shortly after the completion of the Time for Action Report of the West Indian Commission, of which he was Vice Chairman, he was asked by CARICOM Heads of Government to lead a team working on “Financing for Regional Development”. I was a part of that team and it is probably because of that experience that I went to CARICOM a few years later. Over the years since, Sir Alister was always engaged in the Regional Enterprise. He advised, supported, cautioned whenever he was asked. I suspect he quietly mentored a large number of regional technocrats and politicians. Even when he could not get around anymore, he was at the end of the phone."
4/22/2019 07:12:22 pm
Dr. Greene, Thank you so much for sharing this. I am saddened and mourn his passing. My generation has so much to be thankful for. We are humbled by such giants and grateful that we have these shoulders to stand on.
4/22/2019 07:49:39 pm
4/22/2019 09:59:49 pm
Dr. Greene, thank you for this moving tribute to such an iconic figure in Caribbean integration. His legacy lives on through all of us who have been inspired to follow his lead. It is a privilege to join you in celebrating his life, his leadership and his sterling contribution.
4/23/2019 05:28:49 am
Eddie thanks for this sterling tribute that provides valuable information to some of us who may not have had such intimate connection with Sir Alister. I hope his passing helps us all to refocus on his contribution to Regional Integration and will rekindle that Integration fire that is so needed in these times.
4/23/2019 06:42:21 am
4/23/2019 07:43:28 am
Eddie: I had only limited contacts with Alister but those which I did have invariably left me with the impression that he combined Old World gentlemanliness and elegance with modern day academic and policy skills. One can only wish to emulate such a person and wish that the region have many more of his ilk. With kind personal regards, Tony
4/23/2019 07:49:17 am
Dear Dr Greene,
4/23/2019 08:22:53 am
Tks Eddie. I did not have the distinction of working with him but I was aware of his significant contributions to the Integration Movement, Respect for Caribbean Intellect and Scholarship. He was a true trailblazer who has left his footprints on the sands of time.
4/23/2019 08:48:34 am
Many thanks for sharing. Indeed, Sir Alister was a giant among Caribbean nationals.
4/23/2019 09:37:08 am
Dear Eddie..thank u for such an outstanding tribute to a giant of a man who defied descriptions. In a situation where words could barely touch the edges of his genius, you certainly found the right ones. We are grateful, in the midst of our grief, that he left such an enduring legacy for the Caribbean and the world. One of my cherished memories of him was taking him to the old hecths in Washington D.C., to buy a suit, because Marjorie said she wasn't going anywhere with him in this same old suit he had. May he rest in eternal peace.
4/23/2019 10:48:25 am
Eddie this is such a wonderful tribute which puts Sir Allistair's brilliant life and career in to perspective.
4/23/2019 11:53:16 am
Thanks for sharing this wonderful tribute and reflection. While I did not know Sir Alister personally, I am very much aware of the sterling contribution he made to our beloved UWI, the region and the wider world. I have learned much from your reflection and shall treasure it for a long time to come.
4/23/2019 02:51:01 pm
4/23/2019 03:10:45 pm
Thanks very much for sharing this tribute. so well put and deserving.
4/23/2019 04:38:00 pm
Thanks Eddie for highlighting the significant contributions of Sir Alister to the Caribbean. He had the knowledge and used it creatively in advancing the Caribbean regional integration process. As you emphasized in your tribute he had the vision and foresight necessary to advance the economic and social development in the Caribbean. I thought I knew Sir Alister from reading his many contributions on regional development including his work in the setting up of the Caribbean Regional Negotiation Machinery but was very much motivated meeting him and benefitted from his intellectual capacity while working at the University of the West Indies Centre for Environment and Development. Your tribute is touching and demonstrates the leadership and commitment of a true leader – one that the Caribbean is truly proud of. My hope is that his life work will live on and that the University of the West Indies will establish a Sir Alister McIntyre Chair in Economics.
4/25/2019 11:58:09 am
It was such a pleasure to read this wonderful tribute to Alister. You have outdone yourself in honour of a great friend, mentor and teacher. Wherever he is he must be smiling. Thank you so much for speaking on behalf of so many of us who have also benefitted from our friendship with this great man.
4/25/2019 03:17:57 pm
I am glad that Alister and many others heard this in 2017. So many good things are said when it is too late for them to be heard by the person being acclaimed.
4/25/2019 06:28:41 pm
Marie Anne Cholmondeley
4/26/2019 03:21:55 pm
Thank you so much for sharing your moving tribute to Alister with me. He was indeed a giant among us and those myriad of us all benefited from his gifts, either directly or through other giants like you who were fortunate to walk with him.
Elsie Le Franc
4/27/2019 07:58:31 am
It was so good to be part of the exhilarating, innovative and inspiring times to which Sir Alister (or as we all called him - Mac) contributed so much and indeed helped to create. Your tribute describes it all. We all learned and benefited from the experience and I do hope that the newer generations will be similarly inspired. Thanks Eddie
4/27/2019 04:40:34 pm
This is a comprehensively wonderful tribute to a Colossus.
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Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.