KINGSTON — The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Professor Emeritus at Mona, Patrick Earle Bryan, was honoured with the Order of Distinction, Commander Class (CD) for excellence in academia, at the National Honours and Awards ceremony at King’s House on National Heroes Day (October 17).
Professor Bryan has done extensive research into the social and economic history of the British and Spanish Caribbean, and is also the author of several books, including “The Jamaican People: Race, Class and Social Control”, and “Edward Seaga and the Challenges of Modern Jamaica”.
“I am delighted to know that Jamaica would choose to honour me in such a way,” he told JIS News, as he reflected on his accomplishments.
Born in Chantilly, Manchester in 1944, Professor Bryan is a diligent and dedicated individual, who believes in doing well at whatever he chooses to do; a philosophy which has guided him throughout his life.
He believes in the unity and advancement of families, and has treasured his childhood experiences in Manchester. He is married and has four children whom, he says, have motivated him to excel.
A graduate of Wolmer’s High School for Boys in Kingston, 1961, he matriculated to the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona 1962, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Spanish. He gained a Master of Arts degree in 1966 through the University of Texas and the UWI.
His objective was to reach the highest point in his profession and he decided in 1977, with the help of a Cromwell Scholarship, to further his studies at the University College of London where he completed his Doctor in Philosophy, focusing on history.
Professor Bryan has been the recipient of two Fulbright fellowships, which allowed him to hone his teaching and writing skills. As a result, he taught for a semester at the University of New Mexico, and was given an opportunity to complete his book, “The Jamaican People, 1884-1902: Race, Class and Social Control”, while he was atJohn Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in the USA.
Although his family includes a number of teachers, Professor Bryan says it was not his dream to enter into that profession.
“It is something that just happened,” he explains.
The passionate educator began his teaching career at Meadowbrook High School in Kingston, where he worked two terms. He also gained teaching experience at Clarendon College, and Manchester High School where he taught for two years.
He describes his over 40 years lecturing at the UWI as a “positive experience”. He has been lecturing at the UWI since 1969, focusing on history related courses. He adds that he has always been interested in history, and taught Latin American history at the UWI the same year he started lecturing there.
He was Moderator of the Caribbean Studies Programme, 1978-1981, at the UWI, which allowed students to develop keen research skills and garner information to build on their knowledge of Caribbean societies.
He was the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts and General Sciences, between 1980-1981 and 2003-2006, after which he was named to the Douglas Hall Professor of History Chair, a honorary position.
Professor Bryan has been on many organisational boards promoting the preservation of Jamaica’s heritage and history. He was Board member, for approximately 19 years, at the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT). He also served as a member of the Board of the Institute of Jamaica, as well as a member of the Historical Society of Jamaica and the Seville Project Committee.
Professor Bryan also enjoys writing, and has written many publications, all inspired by his passion for research and the spread of knowledge on historical events.
His books also include: ‘The History of the Wolmers Boys School’. "The Haitian Revolution and its Effects 1984"; and “The History of the Overseas Examination Council."
One of his latest publications is the 370-page “Edward Seaga and the Challenges of Modern Jamaica”, which chronologically records developmental issues facing modern Jamaica, and identifies Seaga's intervention and impact on various aspects of the country’s development.
Professor Bryan points to the fact that he has gained a wealth of experience from his career as a teacher, noting that the interaction with students has made his experience quite rewarding. He says that it is always fulfilling to see students grow, especially when they have successfully exemplified the characteristics that they have been taught.
He is adamant that education is a significant aspect of nation building, and thinks that it is an imperative tool in mobilising Jamaica’s youth to become productive citizens. He therefore encourages all Jamaicans to think of education as a lifelong process, which does not only involve receiving numerous certifications.
"Think of education as wholesome, because education should be the development of the whole person," he adds.
Additionally, Mr. Bryan says that it is important that Jamaicans remain optimistic, pointing to the fact that pessimism leads to unfruitfulness. He also notes that it is always important to keep a positive attitude, which drives the desire to excel.
By Toni-Ann Russell, JIS PRO