As part of a continuing series of public lectures aimed at raising the level of discourse on topics of importance to our nation, The UWI Open Campus Saint Lucia will be hosting “The Inaugural Lady Marilyn Floissac Memorial Lecture” on Wednesday October 7th, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at its Morne Fortune campus. Partnering with The UWI in honouring Lady Floissac’s memory is 1st National Bank Saint Lucia Limited.

Lady Marilyn Consuela Theresa Floissac (nee Bristol) joined the ranks of a line of distinguished Resident Tutors of the former School of Continuing Studies of The University of the West Indies, Saint Lucia (1982) which she headed until her retirement in 1993. During her distinguished tenure, Lady Floissac worked assiduously to ensure the provision of academic and administrative support for students following The UWI’s ‘Challenge Examination Programme’, via its then pioneering teleconferencing system.

It was with deep sadness that the Open Campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) learnt of her the death on October 14, 2014. The inauguration of an annual memorial lecture was conceived therefore, as a fitting way to honour Lady Floissac’s memory and her sterling contribution to The UWI and the people of Saint Lucia.

The lecture will be delivered by Harvard University Professor and native Saint Lucian, Dr David Williams. Entitled “Sharpening our Vision for a Well-educated and Healthier Society: Lessons from the Science of Early Childhood” , the lecture will discuss the critical role of early education in the economic development of St. Lucia and the health of the next generation.

The explosion of scientific research that clearly indicates the centrality of nurturing environments in the first few years of a child’s life (or the lack thereof) to shape opportunities for education and health in adulthood and even the likelihood of a life of crime will be explored.

We look forward to hosting you once again and to your participation in the lively discussion that is sure to follow.


Dr. David R. Williams is the Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of African and African American Studies and of Sociology at Harvard University. Previously, he served 6 years on the faculty of Yale University and 14 years at the University of Michigan. A national of St Lucia, Dr. Williams attended and taught at the St. Lucia SDA Academy and completed his undergraduate education at the University of the Southern Caribbean in Trinidad. He then traveled to the U.S. and earned master’s degrees from Loma Linda University and Andrews University, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized authority on social influences on health and he has been invited to keynote scientific conferences in Europe, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, South America and across the United States. His research has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which socioeconomic status, race, stress, racism, and religious involvement can affect physical and mental health.

The Everyday Discrimination scale that he developed in one of the most widely used measures of discrimination in health studies. He directed the first nationally representative study of mental disorders in sub-Sahara Africa and was also a key member of the scientific team that conducted the largest study of the mental health of the black population in the U.S. and the first U.S. health study to include a large national sample of West Indian immigrants.

He is the author of more than 350 scientific papers and his research has appeared in leading journals in sociology, psychology, medicine, public health and epidemiology. He has served on the editorial board of 12 scientific journals and as a reviewer for over 60 others. He was ranked as one of the top 10 Most Cited Social Scientists in the world in 2005 and as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences, worldwide, in 2008. In 2014, Thomson Reuters ranked him as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.

Dr Williams has received numerous honors and awards. In 2001, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine. In 2004, he received one of the inaugural Decade of Behavior Research Awards, and in 2007, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2011, he was the first non-white scholar to receive the Leo G. Reeder Award from the American Sociological Association.

Dr Williams has also played a visible, national leadership role in health policy in the U.S. He has served in an advisory capacity to the first Bush administration, the Clinton administration and the Obama Administration. He was also the staff director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America. He has also been a consultant to state health agencies, private foundations, the National Health Service in the U.K., the Toronto Department of Health, and the Pan American Health Organization.

Dr. Williams has appeared on national television in the U.S., including ABC’s Evening News, CNN, PBS, Al Jazeera, the Katie Couric Show, C-SPAN, the Discovery Channel and the Hope Channel. His research has been featured or he has been quoted in the national print media including the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Jet, Essence and USA Today. He was also a key scientific advisor to the award-winning PBS film series, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?


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