George Maxwell Richards (Date of Birth- 1st Dec 1931)
George Maxwell Richards pursued his higher education at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and the University of Cambridge. He entered the world of work in 1950 as a staff trainee at the United British Oilfields of Trinidad Ltd, a precursor to Shell Trinidad Ltd. Then, as a young graduate, he gained professional experience in the petroleum industry working in several managerial positions at Shell Trinidad Ltd. He left in 1965 to pursue a career in academia at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, Trinidad. He served as Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, and then Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, before ascending to the ranks of Deputy Principal, Acting Principal, Pro-Vice Chancellor and, finally, Principal in 1985.
In both his academic and administrative capacities, Professor Richards played a vital role in the development of the university’s recognised capability in engineering and left a legacy which lives on today. He was one of the pioneers who built the Department of Chemical Engineering, establishing strong links with the Institution of Chemical Engineers and ensuring that the department’s programmes were internationally accredited. This was, at the time, a unique distinction for a university in a developing country. He developed the department’s focus on the process industries, which has benefited Trinidad and Tobago and the region. Thanks to his vision and contribution, the Faculty of Engineering became a centre of excellence whose graduates are in leadership positions throughout the region and abroad. In addition to these achievements, Professor Richards also lent his expertise to the boards of several key service organisations, as well as private and public companies and institutions.
In 2003, Professor Richards was elected President of the Republic, and was re-elected to the office in 2008. He has retained a role in academia, serving as Chancellor of The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) since 2005. Professor Richards is the recipient of two of the country’s national awards – the Chaconia Medal (Gold) and the nation’s highest award, the Trinity Cross – which were bestowed upon him in 1977 and 2003 respectively, in recognition of his outstanding achievements.