Questions for CSA Past Presidents
Responses by Robert Millette
CSA President 1981-1992
How did you come to specialize in Caribbean studies?
My interest in Caribbean studies was developed during my tenure as an undergraduate student at Brooklyn College in New York. My interest was intensified during my stint as Grenada’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
How did your interest in and commitment to Caribbean studies evolve?
My involvement in the Caribbean Studies Association “created” the intellectual and research interest. Research papers were presented in areas such as Public Sector Reform, the family, race and ethnic relations, and the Grenada Revolution: Why it failed?
When did you first join CSA and what did it mean to you then?
I joined CSA in 1985. I was introduced to the organization by Dr. Bert Thomas from Brooklyn College. I was impressed with the scholarly endeavors and practices of CSA
What were your goals for CSA the year of your presidency?
- To raise money by writing proposals
- To chart the way forward for the organization
- To critically examine the functioning of CSA
- To involve graduate students, political activists and non-governmental organizations
What did you recognize to be the greatest obstacles facing CSA that year?
- The need for additional funding
- The need to make CSA more broad based to include NAO’s and research practitioners
What did you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of CSA that year?
- A very successful conference which was held in St. George’s, Grenada
- An efficient and supportive executive
- Received funding from the Ford Foundation, the governor general, the government of Grenada, and local businesses
Why did you choose the location?
- Grenada is my home
- Dr. Eddie Cox, the Program Chair, is from Carriacou
- My relationship with the Prime Minister and his personal assistant, Mrs. Gloria Payne Banfield
Where do you hope to see CSA in the next ten years?
- An organization with an endowment, scholarship fund, and a paid secretariat
- Be involved in preparing position papers and economic projections for Caribbean and Latin American countries
What is one of your fondest CSA memories?
My fondest memory was being elected President of CSA and working with Dr. Eddie Cox, the program chair, and the executive to plan a successful conference in Grenada.
What are you doing now in terms of the Caribbean?
- I am interested in getting involved in exploring the need for constitutional and public sector reform
- Assist CARICOM Countries with proposal writing, human resource development, and securing academic scholarships civil servants and students
- Assist Prime Minister Mitchell and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with fund raising, outreach, and human resource development and planning
The future of Caribbean Studies…..
There is great need for Caribbean Studies to focus on the following:
- Economic development – “Living within your means”
- Constitutional and public sector reform
- “Pocket book” diplomacy and the roles of the overseas missions
- Regional integration and regional cooperation
Recommendations for young scholars:
- Become more civically engaged. Use existing theoretical paradigms to study and solve regional and international problems
- Consider running for political office
- Consider becoming a diplomat or working for international agencies such as the United Nations, the World Bank, or the International Monetary Fund (IMF)