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Published 7th August 2006, 2:43pm

The University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) has announced the appointment of Dr. Hassan Syed as its new President, following a rigorous search and selection process, which was undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture. Dr. Syed is a well-respected and long-standing member of the college's faculty and Cayman's education fraternity, and was the Department Chair of Computer Science and Technology prior to his appointment as President. The Education Minister, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, expressed his delight at Dr. Syed's appointment by saying that, "This heralds the beginning of an exciting new chapter in UCCI's history. Change brings with it opportunities for progress, and Dr. Syed has demonstrated his commitment and ability to grasp these opportunities in the college's continued development". He added, "We are delighted to have an education professional of Dr. Syed's caliber at the helm of this Caymanian institution, especially one who is so accomplished in the local community. The Ministry looks forward to a long and productive partnership with Dr. Syed and the University College". Dr. Syed's appointment follows the retirement of outgoing President Sam Basdeo. A Search Committee comprising Ministry officials and UCCI Board members was appointed to instigate the search for a new President. Stringent criteria and procedures were established for the search and selection process, to reflect the goals of UCCI and the government's broader long-term education strategies. An extensive campaign was subsequently launched to reach potential candidates in Cayman, as well as those across the Caribbean region and further afield. The response was encouraging, with respondents being generally highly qualified to Ph.D or Ed.D level and possessing valuable experience from leading tertiary institutions locally and regionally. A qualified Selection Committee was then assembled to interview the strongest candidates. Working jointly with the Ministry, UCCI's board made recommendations based on the Selection Committee's findings and a final report was submitted to the Honourable Minister for his approval. Dr. Syed was seen to have demonstrated valuable insight in to the college's operations as well as good local knowledge. In addition to his impressive qualifications, his vision of the college as more than just a teaching institution but also as a center for research, complimented the selection committee's criteria well. Combined with this, the committee's familiarity with Dr. Syed's proven performance record swayed the consensus of opinion in his favour, as the candidate who could best deliver on the objectives of the college and the government. Dr. Syed responded to his appointment by saying, "I am deeply honored and feel privileged to be chosen as the new President of UCCI." He added, "Our future development will strengthen our present offerings and take us to the next level of our growth. It will reflect initiatives such as: Innovation in Education, Development and Nurturing of New Enterprises, Knowledge and Skill Integration, Infrastructure for a Knowledge Society and Campus Innovation. The future of UCCI is linked to the future of the Cayman Islands and the future looks bright." In his previous role as Department Head at UCCI, Dr. Syed showed his commitment to both the college and the community through a number of notable accomplishments. His conscious efforts to bridge the local ICT skills gap in the workforce resulted in the development of technology programmes which have yielded impressive achievement records, even by international standards. In 2004 one of his Caymanian students scored the highest aggregate mark worldwide. Dr. Syed is a strong advocate of the young people of the Cayman Islands, and has worked closely with local industry as well as the government's Department of Employment Relations, to promote student placements and career services. Dr. Syed's other accomplishments include the formation of international partnerships to deliver capabilities such as online assessment and research. He has served on numerous committees at home and overseas, in the public and private sectors, which provide a range of community services. He has also provided valuable in-depth insight through research into local issues in education, training and employment. Dr. Syed regularly represents the Cayman Islands on the global stage through public presentations and the international publication of his extensive research findings. He is an outreach counselor, mentor and volunteer in the local community, and his competencies have earned him affiliations with a range of industry associations worldwide. The University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) was awarded University status in 2004. The college now offers Bachelors and Associate Degrees in a range of specializations as well as professional programmes and courses for working adults. The college serves more than 1,400 students annually and has a faculty of 39. The college is governed by a 10-member board, which is appointed by the Cabinet. The law provides that the President's responsibilities include the supervision of the college's academic work and its staff, and routine reporting to the Board. The President is expected to establish a strategic direction for the College and guide its development in all areas of operations.