Lake wants more emphasis on USM degrees

POSTED: 12/2/14 12:44 AM

St. Maarten —MP Maurice Lake wants more emphasis placed on promoting degrees and academics at the University of St. Martin by the incoming government. Lake said on Sunday that “as an educator and a Member of Parliament” one of his priority areas is higher education for the people of St. Maarten.

“USM should be the University of higher learning on the island. The incoming government has to promote and send more students to USM. USM must become the training and service center for the country” Lake said.

“We have young people who complete high schooI annually that don’t leave the island for tertiary education. Those that don’t get a scholarship or cannot afford to do so enter the labour force if they are able to find a job. There are those that would like to continue with their education on the island by getting an associate’s degree at USM but may not have the financial resources to do so.  We need to help them,” the minister said. USM also offers a pre-USM program and a financial payment plan for tuition fees.

MP Lake also took the opportunity to commend the current Minister of Education Patricia Lourens-Philip.  “I would like to thank the Minister for her support and dedication to help grow USM.  USM has come a long way and have a long way still to go, but, we need to support our home grown University.  As a professor at USM for 21 years, I must say USM has a lot of potential to become the best University in the Caribbean.  USM has good faculty but most of all the asset of the University is their students.

Lake opined that USM has the best alumni foundation in the Caribbean with a majority of its graduates holding key positions in every sector on St. Maarten. “USM needs to promote the achievements of their Alumni, especially their class of 1991and recognize them during the university’s 25 anniversary celebration, because the student body is where the strength of the institution lies,” Lake said.

USM celebrated its 25 anniversary on Friday evening with a ceremony at the university where a number of persons were honoured. Lake argues that USM also has a role to play in the community.  “As the saying goes: where there is no vision the people will perish.  I would like to see USM revise their Vision and Mission statement to meet the needs of the current population, the business and hospitality sectors.  Times have changed since the establishment of USM, and the educational institution of higher learning has to also change.

“USM needs to revise their business plan to make it more realistic with the assistance of government, the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA). Government should assist them to improve and revise their educational program where more teachers can be trained and developed on the island and in general more professionals. To date USM has produced some of the best teachers for the island and should continue to do so. Clearly there is a need for specific programs that will meet demands of the labour market. USM should promote internships and COOP positions with the business community,” Minister Lake advises.

The minister also advocates USM reconnecting with Johnson & Wales University and the University of the West Indies and other accredited universities, saying, “accreditation should be a priority along with a state of the art library for research and innovations.”

“I am a big supporter of USM, and as an MP will champion the incoming Government to promote USM.  This is the time to move our University forward and change the image within our community.  You can go study anywhere after attending USM. As a non-accredited university, the majority of our credits are accepted by other universities, and the majority of our students excel at any university they go to in the United States including Ivy League universities. We are truly blessed, however it is time to take USM to that next level”, Maurice Lake concluded.

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