In 2004, The Rhodes Trust established The Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies,
not least “to honour Rex’s distinguished contribution to higher education and the
cultural life of the Caribbean.”
Except for three years at Oxford on Rhodes scholarship, Rex spent the rest of his
adult life at UWI.
His curriculum vitae shows how h ascended the academic ladder, from Resident Tutor
in the Extra-Mural Department, through Director of Studies of the Trade Union Education
Institute, Director of Extra-Mural Studies, Professor of Extra-Mural Studies, Pro
Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and eventually Vice-Chancellor
Emeritus, discharging all responsibilities of those offices with credit to himself
and benefit to the institution. He did all this while engaged in a vast number of
activities in a wide range of areas and geographies and accumulating numerous accolades
and awards that speak to his varied talents.
But Rex was more than an assemblage of talents. His intellectual gifts and wise counsel
have been generously shared with many heads of government, not only in Jamaica, but
throughout the Caribbean and beyond. Professor Nettleford has been consulted by just
about every government in the Caribbean region (including the non-English speaking
countries) and has served in an advisory capacity to several international organizations,
including CARICOM, the Organization of American States, UNESCO, the International
Labour Organization (ILO), the World Bank and the International Development Research
Council (IRDC) of which he was a founding director. His gift of erudition, combined
with his inability to decline appeals for contributions of his talent in this area,
resulted in his maintenance of a speaking schedule that would daunt normal mortals.
Rex Nettleford was a well-known Caribbean scholar, trade union educator, social and
cultural historian,and political analyst. A former Rhodes Scholar, he was Vice Chancellor
Emeritus at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Jamaica. After taking an undergraduate
degree in History at UWI he pursued post-graduate studies in Politics at Oxford.
He was also the co-founder, artistic director and principal choreographer of the
internationally acclaimed National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica and was widely
regarded throughout the Caribbean and the Diaspora as a leading authority on development
and cultural dynamics.
In 2003, the centenary year of the Rhodes Scholarships, when Oxford University conferred
honorary degrees on four prominent Rhodes Scholars from around the world, Rex Nettleford
was one of the chosen four. The citation described him as “a Vice-Chancellor, a man
of the greatest versatility: effective in action, outstanding in erudition, and most
supple in dance.”