The Honourable Burchell Whiteman, O.J.
Chair, COL Board of Governors
Burchell Whiteman became Chair of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth of Learning in September 2008, after several months serving as Acting Chair. He was first appointed to the COL Board in 2002 as the Regional Representative for the Caribbean.
Burchell Whiteman has devoted his life to public service in Jamaica. He started his professional career more than 40 years ago as a teacher. He was subsequently appointed to the position of Principal, first at York Castle High School in 1969, and then at Brown's Community College. As an educator, he was known throughout Jamaica as an innovative and respected member of the profession.
Burchell Whiteman began a new career as a politician in 1989 when he was first elected as a Member of the Jamaican Parliament and was immediately appointed Minister of State for Education. In 1992, he joined Cabinet as Minister of Education, Youth and Culture where he served for ten years before deciding not to run in the October 2002 election. The Prime Minister then appointed him to the Senate and kept him in Cabinet as Minister of Information and Leader of Government Business in the Senate. Mr. Whiteman retired from politics, stepping down from the Senate, in 2006. In early 2007, he was appointed Jamaica's High Commissioner to the U.K., and returned to Jamaica upon concluding his term at the end of 2009. In 2012, he was appointed to serve as Senior Adviser, Office of the Prime Minister, Government of Jamaica, and as Chair of the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ).
In 2006, he was awarded the Order of Jamaica for his outstanding contribution to Education and the Legislature and named an Honorary Fellow of the Commonwealth of Learning "for his contribution to Jamaica as an innovative and highly respected educator and politician, and for his continuing contribution to the Commonwealth of Learning as a thoughtful, experienced and committed member of its Board of Governors."