Commonwealth Conference Focuses on Student Success

 

More than 350 educators from Grenada and around the world descended on St. George’s University for the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC) 2019 annual conference. Highlighting the presentations at the two-day event, titled “Students: Our Common Wealth – A Focus on Student Success,” was a keynote address by The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, the second secretary-general of the Commonwealth from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.

“Students who are educated to think creatively will have a distinctive advantage,” Secretary-General Scotland said. “They will be equipped to master the new ideas and new areas of knowledge and will have truly portable, flexible, applicable skills for the future. They will be able to collaborate across cultural and disciplinary boundaries and thrive in enterprises that have not yet even been invented.”

To this end, she proposed four pillars for building a “common wealth” among Commonwealth students:

  • Learning for life – with readily available skills-based training and higher education programs that respond to market needs
  • Employment – as a focus for ensuring brighter prospects and widening opportunity within the global development agenda
  • Entrepreneurship – so that enterprise and innovation create employment and sustainable growth
  • Engagement – to encourage well-informed consultation and responsiveness to the needs and aspirations of all.

“This can only be achieved through education,” the Secretary-General said. “Through firm commitment always and everywhere to do our utmost to treasure and support students our common wealth.”

The 2019 conference marked the first time that the CEC’s annual event had been held in the Caribbean region.

“A conference of this nature does one thing—it inspires,” said Samantha Antoine-Purcell, Principal, Westmorland Secondary School. “It inspires you to think beyond the usual. It inspires you to try new things, new approaches, and new perspectives so that at the end of the day, the student wins. Judging from the high caliber of presenters, which included educators, principals, students and others in the industry, we were able to have a really rich discourse because the perspectives were so varied. I believe the biggest takeaway for me and my fellow educators is to make sure that what we learn here today, we adapt, and we follow through.”

“We were honored to host the first-ever CEC annual conference in the Caribbean,” said Dr. Glen Jacobs, Provost, St. George’s University. “SGU’s faculty and students represent over 140 countries across the globe, including more than 20 percent of our students who hail from Commonwealth countries. This conference provided the kind of association and diversity we value on our campus. We were delighted to welcome international and local representatives from throughout the commonwealth to share their ideas on addressing how educational institutions can make a difference and ensure students get the most out of their studies and be successful.”

Currently celebrating its 60th anniversary, this year’s Council for Education in the Commonwealth conference was designed to explore the main challenges facing education provision across the 53 member states. In addition to the CEC annual conference being held for the first time ever in the Caribbean, it was also the second-ever held outside of the United Kingdom. The Council’s 2021 conference will be held in Kenya.

– Ray-Donna Peters

New Agreement Provides International Students with a Unique Pathway to Medicine

Aerial images of Sir Eric Gairy Hall and Andrew J. Belford Centre.

St. George’s University has announced a new agreement with NCUK – The University Consortium (NCUK), based in Manchester, United Kingdom, to establish a pathway to study medicine or veterinary medicine at St. George’s University. Qualified NCUK students will be eligible to apply for the SGU International Peace Scholarship and students enrolled in the NCUK-SGU Medical Pathway Foundation program will be granted a dedicated scholarship to defray the cost of tuition.

“This important agreement will provide international students with a passion for medicine a direct pathway to a top medical education from St. George’s University,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “We look forward to welcoming aspiring physicians and veterinarians from NCUK’s global network of study centers to St. George’s.”

NCUK is a consortium of leading UK universities dedicated to giving international students access to universities worldwide. NCUK offers a range of pathway qualifications designed by its universities exclusively for international students wanting to study abroad at top universities. Students who enroll in the medical pathway at one of many NCUK Study Centers around the world and meet SGU’s admissions criteria are guaranteed a place in order to complete either the Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees at St. George’s University.

Students who meet the requirements for entry to the medical program can choose to study for their first year on the True Blue campus in Grenada, or in the UK at Northumbria University’s campus as part of the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University five-year MD program. Those opting to take their first year at Northumbria will study an identical curriculum to their counterparts at SGU’s True Blue campus in Grenada—providing a strong foundation in the basic sciences and non-science subjects.

Students then complete one year of integrated basic sciences in Grenada before undertaking two years of clinical rotations, a portion of which can be taken in the UK, with the remaining rotations in the US or Canada.

“I am delighted to announce the unique pathway for NCUK International medical students into our medicine programs at St. George’s University and the new cooperation between our organizations,” added Pete Fiaschi, Director of Recruitment Asia and UK.

Graduates of SGU’s MD program are eligible to apply to the Widening Access to Specialty Training (WAST) program—a Health Education England initiative within the National Health Service (NHS) that provides a pathway for U.K. registration through postgraduate training following the completion of an internship. This postgraduate training is recognized for licensure in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Commonwealth countries.

“NCUK is delighted to include St George’s University as a study option for our aspiring young medics. We are confident that the partnership will provide opportunities for many young people wishing to study medicine,” said Maria McKenna, Regional Director (EMEA) for NCUK. “NCUK’s global network of Study Centres are excited to introduce this new dedicated medicine pathway and looks forward to helping many young people realize their dreams of pursuing a medical degree at a leading medical school.”

Student Success at the Center of Council for Education in the Commonwealth Annual Conference in Grenada

A total of 61 abstracts have been submitted for consideration to the annual conference of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC), which is to be hosted by St. George’s University on May 21-23, 2019. The conference, titled “Students: Our Common Wealth – A Focus on Student Success,” will hear from international representatives from throughout the commonwealth on how educational institutions can ensure students get the most out of their studies.

Submissions include oral presentations, poster presentations, and workshops, and cover a range of topics based on delegates’ extensive experience working in education. Topics on accessibility include “Inclusive Education in Ghana: Barriers Faced by Deaf and Blind Students in accessing Higher Education”; “An exploration of the inclusion of students with special needs in traditional schools in the Eastern Caribbean region”; and “Supporting Individuals with dis(Abilities) Through Universal Design in Learning”. Those interested in early years learning will have the chance to listen to presentations including “Designing a STEM Program for Delivery in Primary Education Settings; and “Can Reflection Help Junior Educators Teach Better?”. Extracurricular measures will also be up for discussion, as attendees consider an “Assessment of Pet Ownership on Student Academic Performance.”

The conference will also showcase a Technology Test Kitchen, an interactive space offering a hands-on experience for attendees to learn and explore how to integrate and apply technologies for educational purposes.

Conference attendees will include The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who will deliver a keynote address. It is hoped that a delegation from the University of Nairobi will also be in attendance to prepare the ground for the CEC’s conference in 2021, which it will host. A delegation from the University of Namibia, which hosted the 2019 conference, will be led by Professor Kenneth Matengu.

“We are delighted to welcome international delegates from across the Commonwealth to our conference on the theme of student success,” said Sonny Leong CBE, Chairman of the CEC. The fact that these include representatives from the University of Namibia, our former hosts, and the University of Nairobi who will host us in two years’ time, demonstrates the value of these international events in creating lasting pan-Commonwealth networks.”

Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University, said, “I am pleased that the response to our call for abstracts has resulted in so many responses on a wide range of topics. SGU’s faculty and students represent some 140 countries around the world, and this conference is an excellent opportunity for them to share their experience with Commonwealth education leaders, as well as hearing new perspectives from our esteemed attendees.”

The Gold Standard of Care: AAHA Re-Accredits SGU’s Small Animal Clinic Through 2022

Satisfying approximately 900 standards of excellence set by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the Small Animal Clinic (SAC) at St. George’s University has been accredited by the AAHA through 2022, having earned the full three-year term for re-accreditation.

SAC Director Dr. Wayne Sylvester, DVM ’04, and his team were notified of the re-accreditation following the AAHA’s site visit in January, during which the clinic was evaluated on standards such as patient care, surgery, exam facilities, medical records, laboratory facilities, emergency services, dental care, diagnostic imaging, anesthesiology, pharmacy, and continuing education.

“This successful re-accrediitation site visit brought immense joy to our team,” Dr. Sylvester said. “We achieved this important accomplishment through the commitment and collaborative efforts of the team at the Small Animal Clinic, our consultants, the members of the Small Animal Clinic Board and Dr. Neil Olson, the SVM Dean, and his Office.”

AAHA accreditation confirms that the SAC compares favorably with some of the best facilities in North America. According to the AAHA, between 12 and 15 percent of all veterinary practices in the United States and Canada are accredited.

“AAHA re-accreditation is a significant milestone as it reflects the excellence in quality of care being provided at the Small Animal Clinic,” added Mellisa Walters, practice manager of the Small Animal Clinic. “Our team is elated.”

Led by Dr. Sylvester and Ms. Walters, the SAC operates seven days a week with 10 clinicians, 13 technicians, and five full-time staff members. The SAC initially received AAHA accreditation in October 2016, and immediately afterward, the SAC staff began to build on the services it already provided in preparation for the January 2019 site visit.

“All of the sections of our practice made significant improvements, we were able to use our previous experience as a foundation on which to build,” Dr. Sylvester said. “Accreditation ascertains the SAC as a leading veterinary facility. It’s a seal of approval that our standard of care is at high level. We will, however, continually seek to continually improve our standards.”

– Brett Mauser

Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall Receive Marine Biology Lesson in Grenada

Outdoor classrooms aren’t unusual for Dr. Clare Morrall (above), but in April, the St. George’s University professor of biology, ecology, and conservation shared her knowledge with a pair of special pupils—the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

During their royal tour of the Caribbean, Prince Charles and Camilla attended Grenada’s Blue Economy Exhibition, one of the more than 50 engagements on their 10-island trip. As the final event on their Grenada itinerary, the exhibition showcased the country’s role in piloting sustainable blue growth and innovative solutions for small island states.

His Royal Highness spent time at the Ocean Spirits display, Grenada’s longstanding turtle conservation organization, which presented a summary of its almost 20-year research results. The display also included a poster update on the sargassum situation in Grenada assembled by Dr. Morrall and research student Michelle Taylor.

“I had the opportunity to talk with Prince Charles about marine turtles in Grenada and also the issue of sargassum on Caribbean beaches,” said Dr. Morrall, president, Ocean Spirits Inc. “I showed him a metal flipper tag that Ocean Spirits uses with leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles and shared the story of a leatherback turtle that was satellite tagged in Canadian waters that recently returned to Grenada and nested on the east coast.”

Ocean Spirits Inc., is a nonprofit organization that relies entirely on volunteers, grants, and donations to successfully carry out its work. It uses its funding for research (currently the longest running sea turtle survey in Grenada), community outreach (training local staff in research and conservation), educational programs, summer camps, field trips, and school presentations.

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Hosts Record-Breaking Research Day

Faculty, students, and local and regional citizens recently descended on Louis and Marion Modica Hall for the 18th St. George’s University Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day, during which a record 145 presentations were showcased.

Of the presentations, 79 were posters and 66 were oral presentations. A faculty panel made up of judges from SGU and outside of the University reviewed the submissions, choosing three to four winners for each category based on originality, scientific merit, and level of involvement. Three winners were selected for Best Faculty and four for Best Student Oral Presentations, and three for Best Faculty and Best Student Poster Presentations each.

The complete list of winners can be seen below. The campus-based Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) will present each with a plaque on April 15.

“This year’s Research Day received the largest number of submissions of both poster and oral presentations in its 25-year history,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, director of research at St. George’s University. “This event saw the sharing of scholarly contributions from students, faculty and collaborators. Many thanks to all who presented, attended, or assisted with this year’s Research Day and made it such a memorable one.”

In addition to the faculty and students from all four schools at SGU, faculty from T.A. Marryshow Community College, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the University of the West Indies also presented at the conference. Co-authoring the work featured was an impressive list of collaborators from 14 countries and representing more than 50 institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Oxford, the University of Sydney, Temasek in Singapore, and Pretoria in South Africa.

St. George’s University Research Day began in 1994 as a means to disseminate outcomes of research being conducted by faculty and students at the University, which at the time comprised the Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies. With the expansion of the University’s programs and the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, the Alpha Delta Chapter of Phi Zeta Honor Society for veterinary medical students held its first Research Emphasis Day in February 2010 combining with the University-wide Research Day. The Society aims to foster the constant advancement of the veterinary profession, higher education, and scholarship, and to promote research in matters pertaining to the welfare and disease of animals. In keeping with the emphasis on One Health One Medicine, Phi Zeta conducts its Research Emphasis Day in collaboration with the other schools at the University. The next SGU Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day is scheduled for October 24, 2020.

Best Faculty Oral Presentation

  1. Dr. Bhumika Sharma – SVM
  2. Dr. Damian Greaves – SAS
  3. Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson – SOM

Best Student Oral Presentation

  1. Amber Lee – SVM
  2. Masha Phillip – SAS
  3. Matthew Carvey and Paul Feliu – SOM

Best Faculty Poster Presentation

  1. Dr. Naudia Dundas – SVM
  2. Gwen Burbank – SAS
  3. Rachael George-St. Bernard – SOM

Best Student Poster Presentation

  1. Lauren Kiebler – SVM
  2. Zoya Buckmire – SAS
  3. Jennifer Nguyen – SOM

Phi Zeta plaques/certificates were awarded to the following students for their participation: Yu Wang, Sarah Tabin, Chris Memonagle, Monica Tetnowski, Caitlin Moraland, Lindsey Hattaway, Andy Hsueh, Teresa Monroe, Dexton St. Bernard, Jaelene Haynes, Katelyn Thille, Nia Rametta, Shekinah Morris, Vishakha Vasuki, Devin Cruz-Gardillo, Haidi Janicke, and Alexandra Baker.

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Welcomes Incoming Veterinary Students in White Coat Ceremony

Last week, St. George’s University formally welcomed its newest class of aspiring veterinarians with the traditional White Coat Ceremony.

“Today is your next step along the road of realizing your dream of becoming a veterinarian,” said Dr. Neil C. Olson, dean of St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, in his opening remarks.

The White Coat Ceremony signifies the start of veterinary school for SGU’s January class. Students can begin their studies in either January or August.There are 828 students currently studying in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Nearly 90 percent are US citizens.

Other speakers at the event included St. George’s University Provost Glen Jacobs, Vice Chancellor Richard Liebowitz, and keynote speaker Dr. Janet Donlin, who serves as executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Donlin encouraged the incoming class to embrace new challenges and focus on the value of lifelong learning.

“You are our future, and our next generation of veterinarians, and tomorrow’s leaders in veterinary medicine,” Donlin said. “We’re proud of the goals you have set, and the desire you have to serve both animals and people in a changing world.”

Recently, St. George’s University earned full reaccreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. This allows St. George’s graduates to seek licensure in the United States and Canada after passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. The school’s graduates had a 95 percent pass rate on the exam in the 2017-18 school year. The reaccreditation also allows US students to apply for federal loans and deferments through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

St. George’s students spend their first three years in Grenada and complete their final year of study at an accredited affiliated school. The school has clinical partnerships with 29 other universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and Grenada. To date, St. George’s has trained over 1,400 veterinarians.

Robert Alig Named New Vice President of Alumni Affairs

In November, St. George’s University named Robert Alig as its new vice president of alumni affairs, a role for which he looks forward to connecting with the more than 20,000 graduates across the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies. We sat down with Mr. Alig to discuss his background and the goals that he has for SGU and its alumni.

St. George’s University: What elements of your background sets you up to take the reins of alumni affairs at SGU?

Bob Alig: I was the assistant vice president of alumni relations at the University of Pennsylvania for seven years, overseeing alumni programming and engagement for its four undergraduate schools and all graduate programs. Prior to that, I was the director of MBA admissions and financial aid at the Wharton School, for which I was able to travel to 35 countries and share the message of a place that, as an alum, meant a great deal to me. I saw firsthand the energy, commitment, and enthusiasm of Penn’s alumni, not only to give back in terms of philanthropy, but also their time, talent and enthusiasm.

Collectively, I saw what we could accomplish when working in partnership, and what the advocacy of Penn alumni meant for the momentum of the university, anchored in strengthening its reputation and expanding its international footprint. I think this experience dovetails beautifully with what I’ve observed and learned during my brief tenure here.   SGU is on a remarkable trajectory and it has so much to be proud of. I am committed to an alumni relations effort that reflects the momentum and the diversity of the University.

SGU: What do you hope to accomplish in the first few months?

BA: I think it’s vital to connect with alumni to understand their own paths to SGU and what made it a special place for them. Listening and learning now, and agreeing on a plan that leverages our unique strengths will position us for success and continued momentum.   

It’s also important to help alumni understand how SGU can support them in their careers, in their continuing education, and at the same time, for them to advocate for SGU. In years past, education was thought of as an episodic period of time—you’re a student for four years and you get your degree. Now, I think it’s much more about a lifetime of learning and engagement. SGU can and should be the intellectual home of its alumni.

Sometimes I think about my role as helping several thousand current SGU students to feel like alumni, and helping 16,000 SGU alumni feel like students, reconnecting them with their experiences and what’s currently happening on our True Blue campus.

SGU: What do you view as the biggest challenge that faces alumni affairs here and in general?

BA: I think getting my arms around alumni data here is very similar to the challenge I faced when I started at Penn. Every higher education institution struggles with capturing data and using it effectively.

SGU: How can staying connected with SGU help our alumni in their careers?

BA: It makes perfect sense that we could keep our alumni engaged so that they can learn from each other and tap into each other’s networks and experiences. The pace of change in our work and personal lives has escalated significantly. The practice of radiology—or any field—has evolved dramatically in the last 15 years, so it’s important that our graduates not only stay current, but set the standard for the future through continuing education and engagement with their alma mater.

SGU: In what ways are you looking to connect with SGU alumni?

BA: There is nothing better than meeting SGU alumni in person, ideally on the True Blue campus, but I’ve also connected with alumni via social media, phone, and email, and want to continue to do so. I want to quickly figure out how we can connect and make it easy for them to stay in touch with me, their fellow alumni, and SGU.

American Veterinary Medical Association Renews Full Accreditation for St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine Through 2025

On November 5, Dr. Neil Olson, Dean of St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, announced to students, faculty, and staff that the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) has re-accredited the school through the year 2025—the maximum seven-year term for accreditation.

The AVMA COE first accredited St. George’s University in 2011. It is currently one of 19 AVMA-accredited schools outside the United States, and one of just two in the Caribbean.

“The AVMA is the gold standard of veterinary education globally, so to be fully accredited puts us right at the top in terms of the quality of training that we provide to our students,” said Dr. Olson. “We are right on the front edge of all vet schools in the Caribbean and on par with any vet school in the United States.”

AVMA accreditation means that SGU graduates can continue to sit for licensure to practice veterinary medicine in the United States or Canada without first completing a foreign graduate examination. It was recently reported that SGU graduates had posted a 95 percent pass rate on the 2017-18 North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE).

In addition, US veterinary students may apply for lower-interest federal loans and in-school deferments through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

“This is a major feather in our cap for the future recruitment of the best and brightest students from around the world,” Dr. Olson said. “It’s very important that students attend an accredited school, not only to ensure that they receive quality training but it also for the ability to fund their education.”

Dr. Olson joined SGU in August 2017 and continued the school’s preparation for the AVMA visit in April. In SGU’s self study, Dr. Olson assembled groups of faculty and staff that examined the 11 standards by which the AVMA measures schools—organization, finances, physical facilities and equipment, clinical resources, information resources, students, admission, faculty, curriculum, research programs, and outcomes assessment.

Dr. Neil Olson, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at St. George’s University

In addition, Dr. Olson, who served as Dean at the University of Missouri and Associate Dean at North Carolina State University prior to joining SGU, welcomed two colleagues to True Blue to perform a mock site visit in January.

“It’s important that our students have a strong foundation of knowledge skills underneath them when they set off for their careers as veterinarians,” Dr. Olson said. “We believe that we provide that foundation here at St. George’s University, and the backing of accrediting bodies such as the AVMA supports that belief.”

Since opening in 1999, St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine has produced close to 1,600 veterinarians who have gone on to practice in 49 United States and 16 countries worldwide. The School maintains partnerships with 29 universities and clinical facilities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Grenada, Ireland, and Australia where fourth-year students spend a year of clinical training at an affiliated veterinary school.

SGU Students Register 95% Pass Rate on Veterinary Licensing Examination

St. George’s University’s veterinary medical students made the grade once more on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), posting a 95 percent pass rate on the exam in 2017-2018 according to the International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA).

A student’s passing grade on the 360 multiple-choice-question test is required for licensure to practice veterinary medicine in the United States and Canada. Since 2000, ICVA has used the exam and other assessment tools “to protect the public, and animal health and welfare.”

“Our students’ success on the NAVLE is a testament to their commitment to their studies and to their future as veterinarians,” said Dr. Neil Olson, Dean of St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine. “Throughout their basic science and clinical years, they must endure a rigorous course load and absorb a wealth of information, and we’re pleased that the curriculum has adequately prepared them to meet the highest of practicing standards.”

SGU’s pass rate on the NAVLE compares favorably with other veterinary medical schools around the world. The pass rate for all criterion group examinees in the November/December 2017 and April 2018 periods was approximately 95 percent. To be an accredited college of veterinary medicine in good standing, the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) requires that at least 80 percent of students who take the exam will have passed at the time of graduation.

SGU students have a proven track record of success on the NAVLE, including a 94 percent pass rate among test takers in 2016-2017.

“We congratulate our students for demonstrating that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to have long and successful careers in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of SGU. “We also salute our faculty and staff for helping to build a sturdy foundation for not only these students but for all of our graduates who are currently in practice.”

St. George’s University has produced more than 1,600 veterinarians since opening its doors in 1999. The SVM obtained full AVMA accreditation in 2011, and its graduates have gone on to practice in 49 US states and in 16 countries worldwide.