UTech, Jamaica Community Pays Tribute to Martin Henry in Cathartic Memorial Service

A pensive audience listens to Professor Stephen Vasciannie, President, University of Technology, Jamaica paying tribute to the late Martin Henry, Manager, Projects and Operations, School of Graduate Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship at a special memorial service held in his honour on Monday, June 24, 2019 at the Shared Facilities Building, Papine Campus.

An outpouring of tributes and reflections in fond memory of our late colleague and friend, Mr Martin Henry who served the University of Technology, Jamaica with distinction over the last 20 years, were moved by members of academic and administrative staff at a special memorial service in his honour on Monday, June 24, 2019 at the Shared Facilities Building, Papine Campus.

The reflective celebration of Martin Henry’s immense and exemplary contribution to the University was organised by his closely-knit School of Graduate Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship family where he served as Manager, Projects and Operations up to the time of his passing on May 28.   A series of heartfelt, poignant tributes in words and music provided a cathartic experience for the large gathering of members of the University Community who have been mourning his shocking and sudden passing.

Heading off the tributes, University President, Professor Stephen Vasciannie offered condolences to his wife Mrs. Jacqueline Garvey-Henry and other members of Mr Henry’s immediate and extended family who were in attendance.  “Martin was more than a colleague to many of us at the University,” the President said, adding that “he was a friend who dedicated his professionalism, diligence and analytical skills to the fulfilment of our collective mission of promoting Excellence through Knowledge.”

Professor Vasciannie lauded Mr Henry for his key roles in various University initiatives including our record in research and publishing; in organizing entrepreneurial partnerships and consultancy arrangements and his impressive work as the Project Manager of the University’s Press in moving the institution forward in the area of publishing books by authors from the University.  “Martin was particularly impressive in his work; he was always thorough, worked ahead of schedule, and brought his skills of careful organization and innovation to all our activities,” the President said to confirming nods from the gathering. 

The President also acknowledged Mr Henry’s vast contribution to the wider society “as a public figure of high standing,” achieved through his 30-plus years of acclaimed, incisive Gleaner columns covering the whole gamut of life’s experiences; his work as former Chairman and Director of National Integrity Action and his pervasive fixture in media as a knowledgeable public commentator. In his last such contribution, moments before his untimely passing, Mr Henry offered analysis on TVJ’s newscast, on the legacy of the late former Prime Minister and Chancellor, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, ON, PC.

Remembering Martin Henry, Deputy President, Professor Colin Gyles noted that he was “a patriotic man who loved and served his country well.”  Professor Gyles highlighted his significant contribution to the establishment of the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST) and the formulation of the Science and Technology Section of the Draft Industrial Policy for the government, among other notable national achievements.

Dr. Paul Ivey, Associate Professor and AVP, Graduate Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship, who chaired the memorial service, spoke in superlative terms of his close colleague and friend who he described as an “approachable, easy-going, introvert, who enjoyed a good laugh and was devoted to his family.”  Dr. Ivey recalled ‘meeting’ Martin Henry through his Gleaner columns before meeting him in person nine years ago at UTech, Jamaica. Through these columns, he said he admired Mr. Henry for “his sharp and towering intellect that reflected an expansive grasp of religion, science, philosophy, sociology, history, economics and politics,” adding that his writing skills were “superb” and the “epitome of a Polymath and Public Intellectual.”

Reflecting on the frailty of life, Dr. Ivey encouraged the gathering, like Martin Henry, to “live and do good and make every day count while we are alive.”

“A True Gentleman”

Moving oratory followed from Mrs. Pamela Kelly, University Orator and Academic Advisor, UTech Academy who worked alongside Mr Henry at the then Department of Liberal Studies, now the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies.  She characterized the UTech, Jamaica stalwart as “supportive, collegial, stabilizing, genuine, ethical, hard-working, reliable, respectful and respectable – a true gentleman.”  She shared that Mr Henry came to the Department with a considerable reputation as a teacher of Science (his first love), adding that “he brought new perspectives to the department,” and made extensive contribution to the many committees and boards. With bashful regret, Mrs. Kelly also disclosed that she and other colleagues “disappointed” Mr Henry in not writing and publishing their ideas.

Mrs. Kelly also spoke of Mr Henry’s contribution on a collaborative project with Balford Lewis and Joan Black combining Science, Psychology, writing and editorial skills to successfully complete a curriculum for Health and Family Life Education in several schools, as well as his significant contribution to the transitioning of the Department into the current School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The mix of further tributes remembered the many sides of Mr Henry as the consummate professional, the reliable team-player, the labour rights advocate, the straight-talker and the man with the wry smile and dry humour.

“Educator and Administrator par excellence”

“UTech, Jamaica has lost a giant leader – small in stature but large in life and influence,” noted Mrs Michelle Beckford, Corporate Communications Manager, adding that, “his contribution to the development of the University as an educator and administrator par excellence, and to the wider Jamaica as a thought-leader and public commentator is unquestionable.”  Mrs. Beckford recalled many pleasant interactions with Mr. Henry over 15 years at UTech, Jamaica and the professional manner in which he conducted himself at all times.  She expressed admiration for the precision with which he chaired annual planning meetings of the University’s Research, Technology and Innovation Day (RTID) and his meticulous nature in executing the many projects and initiatives at the University which he capably led with distinction. She also expressed admiration for his unfailing expressions of appreciation and encouragement to team members who worked with him on various projects.

Similar expressions were also shared by Dr. Andrew Lamm, Director, Centre for Science-based Research, Entrepreneurship and Continuing Studies who noted Mr Henry’s proclivity for always giving a listening ear and words of praise and encouragement to colleagues, even if his answer to a consideration was “no.”   

In her tribute on behalf of the UTech, Jamaica Press, Dr. Kamilah Hylton, Dean, Faculty of Science and Sport remembered “Sir Martin” for his thorough and detailed approach from the outset in managing every detail that was contemplated in establishing the Press which was launched on February 1, 2018. “Within a few weeks of our being engaged, Martin had sent out a long list of things including establishing contracts, executing reviews, vetting publishing assistants, handling Press queries, securing editors, compositors, shippers, establishing guidelines for the operation of the Press,” among other details, she noted, underscoring the meticulous nature of the man of very few but impactful words who was always measured in his approach and undaunted by the challenges of the task at hand.

Also eulogising Martin Henry was Mr Nigel Cooper, Head, Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership and chairman of the COBAM Consultancy Unit who expressed a debt of gratitude to Mr Henry for his skill in vetting consultancy documents and negotiating and operationalizing contracts for the University. 

Committed to Research and Publications

Professor Cynthia Oneyfulu, Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies offered tribute on behalf of the Journal of Arts, Science and Technology (JAST) team.  She praised Martin Henry for his visionary leadership and his commitment to research and publications.  “Because of Mr. Henry today we have a peer-reviewed journal that has an international readership and the quality of the journal today was due to his professionalism and commitment,” she said, adding that Mr. Henry’s successful increase in the publication of JAST from 1 to 2 issues per year has resulted in lecturers having more opportunities to publish their work. 

 “The Cool Operator”

Dr Winsome Russell, Associate Vice President, Quality Assurance recounted fond memories of sharing office space and thought-provoking conversations with Mr Henry, “the cool operator.” To much laughter from the gathering, she recalled being alerted by his presence in the building only by the sound of his pleasant whistling, usually on his way to the lunch room.  “Mr Henry was a very quiet person,” she said, adding that “most of my interactions with him were brief, but there is much I observed that would define, for me, who Martin was…he was disciplined, a calm personality, fair humble and caring.”  Dr. Russell spoke also of his consistent punctuality for meetings and events and the pride with which he completed and delivered assignments in the calmest way, ahead of schedule.  

Members of staff from the Academic Affairs building shared their heartfelt memories of Mr Henry in an emotionally stirring video tribute – Miss Tashoya Streete, Miss Sally Carter, Miss Grace-Ann Black, Miss Shaneeka Campbell, Dr. Paul Ivey from SGSRE and Miss Stacy-Ann Walker all attested to his deep faith in God, his mentorship and guidance to the team, his integrity, compassionate and hard-working demeanour and his consistent respect for all persons irrespective of title or age.  Miss Streete who worked closely with Mr Henry since 2007 expressed gratitude to him for her professional development and his mentorship. The team also fondly remembered their cherished January birthday celebrations with Mr Henry, hiking trips and other moments of shared camaraderie.

Tributes in song and praise from Miss Dahlia Miller, Ms Lena Davis and Professor Colin Gyles accompanied by musician Mr. Greg-Louis Austin, Quality Assurance Officer, served to comfort all.

(l-r) Miss Dahlia Miller, Administrative Support, FELS,  Ms Lena Davis, Lecturer, School of Business Administration and Professor Colin Gyles, Deputy President  pay tribute to Mr. Henry in  their stirring renditions of  “Going Up Yonder,”  “I Am Persuaded That God Will See Me Through” and “The Holy City,” respectively.

Open tributes were received from members of academic and administrative staff, further highlighting the profound contribution and impact made by Mr Henry in other areas of university and public life, including his advocacy role in the implementation of a protracted Pension Plan at the University.

Pastor Holland Thompson, University Chaplain who offered prayers noted that “Jamaica has lost a brilliant star from its galaxy.” He also paid tribute on behalf of the East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and remembered Martin Henry as  a faithful  servant of Guava Gap Adventist Church where he served as an Elder.

Mr Henry’s widow, Mrs. Jacqueline Garvey-Henry was gracious in her appreciative remarks to the University Community.  She shared that “Martin loved UTech and he really wanted to be here.”  She thanked the University for organising the memorial service and for the outpouring of support in prayers and telephone calls and the assurance given by the President that the UTech, Jamaica community will continue to be there for the family.


Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 970-5299
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm