Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the Government has agreed to "endow the Sir Ellis Clarke Chair in Commonwealth, Parliamentary and Constitutional Studies" at the University of the West Indies, in his honour. Persad-Bissessar made the revelation while paying tribute to Sir Ellis during yesterday's state funeral for the former T&T president at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port- of- Spain yesterday.
Sir Ellis was later buried at the Lapeyrouse cemetery in Port-of-Spain, after a military procession along the streets of Port- of- Spain. After a 21-gun salute, the body was taken on a gun carriage to the cemetery for burial. The casket was lowered in the grave shortly after 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Persad-Bissessar, who was dressed in a fashionable black ensemble, said the decision to establish the chair was reached hours before yesterday's funeral service for Sir Ellis.
She said as Prime Minister and current chair of the Commonwealth, she was "deeply conscious on a personal basis of his vast contribution to T&T and the Commonwealth, particularly in matters relating to constitutional reform." Sir Ellis died on December 30, two days after celebrating his 93rd birthday. He never recovered from a massive stroke he suffered on November 24. "The chair will be a major centre of learning available to, and serving not only T&T, but the entire Commonwealth as well as students of constitutional studies all over the world," the PM said.
Among the list of dignitaries who attended the state funeral were President George Maxwell Richards, Chief Justice Ivor Archie, cabinet ministers, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, House Speaker Wade Mark, Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith, the only surviving former President Arthur NR Robinson and the Governor General of Grenada Sir Carlyle Glean. Several schoolchildren and members of the public were also in attendance. The PM said based on the decision to establish the chair, "the pioneering work of Sir Ellis will be brought to bear on future generations.
"This endowment will not only honour his work in a major field of government endeavour, but his legacy will continue to benefit students, researchers and scholars from all over the world in a field of study that was literally his passion," she added. And Peter Clarke, son of the late Sir Ellis, welcomed the tribute.
"It is a fitting tribute to Sir Ellis," Clarke said in a brief comment.
Principal of the St Augustine campus of the UWI, Prof Clement Sankat, said the honour was "a fitting tribute to Sir Ellis." He said the Government's decision to name an endowed chair at the UWI was an extremely fitting tribute. "With this chair, the university itself will have a clear focus on matters pertaining to constitutional law, constitutional issues and be able to support thinking and thought on our Government and our country," Sankat said.