Sir Alister McIntyre, Vice Chancellor emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), died on Saturday, aged 87.
An economist by training, Alister McIntyre was born in Grenada and later graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with first class honours.
In his early career he was a lecturer in economics at the St. Augustine campus of the UWI in Trinidad & Tobago, and at the Mona Campus in Jamaica, which today has a building bearing his name.
He served as Vice Chancellor of UWI from 1988 to 1998.
In 1974 he was appointed Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
He also served as a Director at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and later in the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
After his retirement from the UWI in 1998, he was appointed Chief Technical Advisor at the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, playing an important role during crucial negotiations at the World Trade Organization and in other trade negotiating fora.
He was honoured many times, receiving the Order of the Caribbean Community, the Order of Merit from Jamaica, Guyana's Cacique Crown of Honour and the Chancellor's 50th Anniversary Award.
He leaves behind his wife Marjorie, children Arnold, Andrew, Helga and Nicholas.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, responding to news of the passing of Sir Alister McIntyre, characterised him as "a foremost actor in our evolution as Caribbean people."
He said the Government of Jamaica deeply regretted the passing of the renowned academic and Caribbean Integrationist.
Mr. Holness noted the significant contributions that Alister McIntyre made to the integration movement and the field of developmental economics: ”As former Secretary General of CARICOM between 1974-1977, he spearheaded the movement towards integration. This, along with his tremendous contribution to academic discussions on the economic development of the region as well as economic integration between states, placed him as a foremost actor in our evolution as Caribbean people”.
Prime Minister Holness added that the Caribbean has lost one of the more credible repositories of its post-independence history, saying "his experience at the forefront of the post-independence movement and as an intellectual voice in the creation of the modern Caribbean economic and political identity, gave him a breadth of knowledge and experience that has benefited generations of Caribbean leaders and thinkers. We must do all we can to preserve his legacy”.
Dr. Peter Phillips, Jamaica’s Opposition Leader and president of the People's National Party (PNP), in his tribute, recounted aspects of Sir Alister McIntyre's outstanding career, particularly his service to the region: “For over fifty years Alister McIntyre's name has been synonymous with the quest for Caribbean development. He was a giant of Caribbean scholarship and a champion of the regional movement.”
He was, Dr. Phillips said, “the quintessential Caribbean man who believed in the potential of the people of the region and was committed to their advancement through education, integration and economic independence.”
Noting that the former Vice Chancellor was born in Grenada and ultimately settled in Jamaica, Dr. Phillips asserted that he nevertheless belonged to the entire Caribbean.
“His outstanding contribution in the role of Secretary General of CARICOM and in the various positions he held in a number of United Nations agencies cannot be overstated. Sir Alister will truly be missed,” he said, adding condolences on behalf of the PNP to his family, friends and colleagues.
P. J. Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, in his tribute on the passing of Sir Alister McIntyre, described him as "an intellectual giant whose monumental contribution to the integration movement will forever endure in our collective memory."
Sir Alister McIntyre devoted his entire life in service to the region. He was an outstanding CARICOM Secretary General as we moved from a Free Trade Association into the Caribbean Community. His mastery of the complex technical issues pertaining to trade, finance, and the development agenda provided the backbone for the ACP throughout the Lome negotiations.
As Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD, Sir Alister helped to fashion the economic agenda for the developing world by imaginative schemes such as the Common Fund.
Every government in the region benefited from his economic expertise. We in Jamaica, will remember at this time, that Hon Alister McIntyre was awarded the Order of Merit for the distinguished work he did with the late Mayer Matalon and Pat Rousseau, during the negotiations with the Bauxite Companies.
The University of the West Indies will remain forever in his debt because of the leadership he provided to vastly expand the scope and increased access to tertiary education in this new era of technology.
I feel a very special sense of loss at the sudden departure of a highly revered colleague whose astute advice and generous support were always available within a close and lasting friendship.