“From Imperial College to University of the West Indies – A History of the St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago,” was launched on October 12 at the Central Bank Auditorium.
The day of the book launch was also Brereton’s first day of retirement. In introducing her to address guests, Pro Vice Chancellor and UWI Principal, Professor Clement Sankat, said about Dr Brereton, “You are giving to our Campus on this special day a gift of immense value, a treasure for our Campus, the UWI, Trinidad and Tobago, the region and generations to come.” He presented Brereton’s distinguished history at UWI to guests at the launch, which he said will not be easy to emulate.
Brereton served the University of the West Indies for over 40 years in several different capacities including Temporary Assistance Lecturer, head of the Department of History, Deputy Campus Principal, Interim Campus Principal and Professor of History.
Sankat described her as the “Olympian Academic” since she obtained many firsts at the St Augustine Campus including being the first PhD student of the history department, the first female PhD graduate of the department, the first female head of the department of History (1985- 1987 and 1988-1994), the first female Deputy Principal (1999-2002), the first female in the role of Acting Principal (2001) and Interim Principal (2007), and the first female to have served at every level in the University from Part-Time Lecturer/Tutor to acting Principal of the institution. Brereton also served as Moderator for Caribbean Studies 1977-1982, Joint Co-ordinator of Women and Development Studies Group 1985-1986, member of several boards and committees including University Finance and General Purpose Committee, the Vice Chancellor’s Special Committee to review Post Graduate Programmes 2005-2006, Quality Assurance Review team 2006, Vice Chancellor’s committee to consider criteria and procedures for professorial promotions and appointments 2006-2007, member of the board of Directors, Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business 2008 and Campus Steering Committee for Accreditation in 2009.
Brereton, the author, also contributed to the field of Caribbean history. She has authored seven books including, “Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad, 1870-1900” in 1979 and “A History of Modern Trinidad, 1783-1962" in 1989. She has edited and co-edited ten books, published 61 articles, made 54 conference paper presentations and currently has five items in the works. These works, Sankat noted, will continue to be used by young historians throughout the region, courses taught at the three UWI campuses and for teachers and students preparing for CAPE and CXC examinations.
She supervised nine successful PhD students, five MPhil and 17 MA research papers, served as Internal Examiner for nine research theses and external examiner for eight students at other institutions. “She belongs to the genre of Caribbean historians who have moved the historiography of the Caribbean into its present phase with a unique perspective that stimulates research in new directions,” Sankat said.
Her impact has also been felt outside of the region as Brereton has served as a Visiting Professor at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She carried out the duties of Secretary-Treasurer and President of the Association of Caribbean Historians and is a past Editor of the Journal of Caribbean History.
She has been Chair of the Board of the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) and also chaired the Cabinet-appointed Committee to consider the nation’s highest award, the Trinity Cross and other national symbols and observances.