The following are remarks from Prime Minister Keith Mitchell at the Launch of the St George’s University Expansion Project on 28 August.
“The Government and People of Grenada are very pleased, and I am personally very excited about what is happening here at the St George’s University. This university, in its 40 years here in Grenada, has always been forward looking, and has never been afraid to explore new frontiers.
We have seen firsthand, and with both amazement and admiration, the transformation of this school from a mere medical college to a full scale university—one which has become both the model and the envy of many.
Over the years, successive governments and the St George’s University have had a very close and positive relationship. After 40 years of marriage, we can stand proudly here today and declare that we are going strong. Even more so, we can re-commit ourselves to another 40 and beyond.
The impact of this school on all aspects of Grenadian life is undoubted. Not only is the university one of the biggest contributors to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, but it is the island’s biggest single employee; evidenced by the many of you here today.
Much of this important contribution to Grenada is due to the stewardship of a great visionary. A man of action, a man I am happy to call my friend—Chancellor, Dr Charles Modica. It is this relationship that he and I have cultivated over the years, and that we continue to build on, that has made me so very proud here today, and confident that this new expansion project will yield dividends for all the stakeholders concerned.
Modica has always been ready to extend a hand to walk the talk. He has never balked when I have called upon him over the years.
I recall many years ago discussing the way forward for the partnership between the university and this country. Although we came from different backgrounds, he clearly understood my motivation and embraced my vision to ensure that this university became a beacon of hope for many Grenadians who are unable to afford to go abroad to study.
Modica and I understood then that if a local citizen can obtain a quality education here at home, in an environment that is sought after by so many the world over, there would be no reason to go abroad and undertake the enormous personal cost for that endeavour.
I am thankful that we have been able to enrich that initial enterprise over the years by ensuring that hundreds of Grenadians have had the opportunity to pursue studies right here at St George’s. In doing so, we have amassed an amazing cadre of professional young men and women who can use their training and skills from St George’s, not only to help develop their homeland, but to stand tall among the best and the brightest, anywhere in the world.
Sisters and brothers, in my view, SGU’s most important legacy to this country is the development of our human resource. It is the already over 100 million dollars in scholarships afforded young Grenadians to access a quality education. This is why we cannot take this relationship for granted.
This is why a young boy from Happy Hill who was given a break to study outside of Grenada—at a time when very few Grenadians had that opportunity—I cannot take the contribution of SGU for granted. This is why successive Governments have to ensure that we cultivate an environment conducive to the nurturing and growth of the University, relative to our national needs.
This is why the news today is so encouraging. Sisters and brothers, everyone is a winner in this improved partnership. None understands this more than this government. We know that if we have to give a little in order to guarantee the development of our greatest resource, then that is what we have to do.
Dr Modica understands that there are certain concessions as well that the University has to make in assuring maximum productivity of its workers and students.
Our locals and law enforcement agency understand that we must continue to preserve the stability and safety of this nation in our efforts to attract not only visitors to enrich our tourism industry, but the trust of parents the world over, who invest in St George’s by sending their children here to pursue an education.
The 750 million dollars of new investment in the university will have enormous impact for the university and for our Grenadian society. Sisters and brothers, the benefits are not always tangible or apparent; but we cannot deny the rippling effect.
We believe that such a huge investment shows the confidence the school, and indeed your new partners, have in Grenada, and it sets the stage for other investors who want to take a chance on Grenada.
Since returning to office a year and a half ago, we have been working diligently to improve the doing business climate in Grenada, and we have vigorously promoted new investments. It is in this new environment that the university has attracted such a huge and unprecedented new deal. Dr Modica and his team must be commended for their valiance in obtaining this deal; and in bringing this influx of opportunities and possibilities into the heart of Grenadian society.
With the launch here today, we are poised for a new phase. The government looks forward to working with the St George’s University in a number of areas. Among those will be the establishment of a teaching hospital, which we hope to see come on stream in the not too distant future. Such a venture will open a new frontier in medical research and technology, and provide training for generations of medical practitioners.
A teaching hospital will be able to attract graduate residents from all around the world, while retaining some of the graduates right here at SGU. This is an undertaking that is at the heart of the future of this university, and nation.
Together, this government will do all it can to manifest into a reality, and I assure you that we are actively pursuing and engaging potential investors to that end. All this is in keeping with the growth trajectory of this important institution; and the continued economic expansion of this nation.
Mr Chancellor and your team: we thank you for the confidence you have shown in Grenada. We thank the investors who not only show their present commitment to this deal, but have been able to assure an environment poised for future investments and an inflow of money into this country.
Students, staff, and Grenadian citizens alike, let us continue to work together to ensure that investments like this one are maximised in their output, and that more ventures like this are brought to fruition in the long term development efforts of this nation. Let us look forward to a future of possibilities.