CINCINNATI, OH –Union Institute & University alumna Portia Simpson Miller and leader of Jamaica’s People’s National Party (PNP) was re-elected prime minister after the PNP earned the majority vote in the country’s general elections December 29. Simpson Miller, the first female to lead Jamaica, earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Union’s Florida Academic Center in 1997 and expressed her gratitude for her alma mater in her January 5 inaugural address.
“As the newly elected prime minister, the Honorable Portia Simpson Miller brings a wealth of knowledge about public service, commitment to others, and intellect to the office that bodes well for Jamaica in future days. Union is proud to have the Prime Minister as a graduate, and we wish her and her administration well as she continues her impressive leadership journey.” said Union Institute & University President Dr. Roger H. Sublett. “She is one of the most dynamic political leaders I have met in many years; in watching her interact with the people of Jamaica, her love of Jamaica and its people is obvious to all.”
Three representatives from Union, including dean emeritus Dr. Marie Bogat, academic advisor Angela Byles, and former dean Dr. Michael Tredinnick, were invited to attend and represent Union at the prime minister’s inauguration. During the ceremony, Prime Minister Simpson Miller asked each of them to stand up to be acknowledged, and expressed her deep appreciation to her alma mater. “It was such a proud moment for Union,” said Byles. “Although she acknowledged several world dignitaries, Union was the only educational institution mentioned. It was a wonderful moment for Union to be recognized worldwide.” Later, at a reception, Byles was able to present Prime Minister Simpson Miller with a proclamation issued by President Sublett.
Affectionately known throughout Jamaica as “Sista P,” Simpson Miller has consistently advocated for the country’s struggling poor. In her victory speech Thursday night, she vowed to "unearth the greatness that lives in every single Jamaican," despite the country's huge debt burden - the catalyst for the early election that resulted in the ousting of Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the ruling Jamaican Labor Party. According to Jamaican news station TVJ, the PNP won 41 seats in the Jamaican parliament and the labor party earned just 22 seats. The Miami Herald called the election a “landslide victory” for Simpson Miller and the People’s National Party.
The 66-year-old Simpson Miller was first elected Jamaican prime minister in 2006. During her year-and-a-half long tenure, she forged a reputation as a leader who championed for the needs of the underserved. Now back in office, she has promised to create jobs and help lift Jamaica out of its current financial crisis. “We are going to form a partnership with you, the Jamaican people. A partnership with the private sector, a partnership with the media, and a partnership with civil society,” she said in her victory speech Thursday.
In 2001, Union awarded Simpson Miller with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the Florida Academic Center’s commencement ceremonies, where she served as commencement speaker. Prior to serving as president of the PNP, she held numerous roles for the Jamaican government including minister of local government and sport, minister of labor, and minister of tourism and sports. She served as vice president of the PNP from 1978 to 2006.