Sir Wm. Arthur Lewis: President 1970 – 1973

Economist and Nobel Prize Winner, the late Sir William Arthur Lewis, born January 23, 1915, in St. Lucia, served at the first President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) from 1970 to 1973.

Well known for his contributions in the field of economic development, industrial structure and history of the world economics, Sir Arthur Lewis’ career is characterised by many firsts.

Educated at the London School of Economics (LSE), Sir Arthur graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1937. He went on to read for a Ph.D. in Industrial Economics, completing in 1940. While working on his Ph.D he was employed at LSE where he received rapid promotion; attaining the rank of Reader in Colonial Economics in 1947.

Between 1948 and 1958 he worked for the University of Manchester where he held different positions including Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and served as the Stanley Jevons Professor of Political Economy. During this period his reputation as a leading development economist was established and his expertise was in constant demand from various governments and international organisations.

He was initially offered the position of Professor of Economics at Mona which at the time was part of the University of London as the University College of the West Indies. In 1959 he became the first West Indian to hold the position of Principal at Mona. Under his leadership the University of the West Indies gained its independence in 1962 and he served as its first Vice Chancellor.

In 1963, he became the first person of African heritage to hold a chair at Princeton University where he held the post of Professor of Public and International Affairs, and served as the James Madison Professor of Political Economy.

Throughout his distinguished career, Sir Arthur served as a consultant to a number of governments; these include Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Nigeria, Barbados and Ghana. He was the first Economic Advisor to serve the Ghanaian Government in the post-Independence period and he helped to draw up its first Five Year Development Plan. He was also Deputy Managing Director of the United Nations Special Fund. Sir Arthur held offices with several professional bodies including: Colonial Advisory Economic Council; Committee for National Fuel Policy, Britain; United Nations Group of Experts and the Board of Governors of Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford.

Knighted in 1963 and awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science in 1979, Sir Arthur Lewis was the recipient of several honorary degrees from UWI, Boston College, Columbia University, Lagos University, Harvard University and Toronto University, to name a few. He was also the recipient of numerous awards which include, Honorary Fellow of LSE and of the Weizman Institute.

Throughout his career, Sir Arthur wrote many books, monographs, official papers, articles and chapters in various books. His key works include the “Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour” (1954) and “The Theory of Economic Growth” (1955). When Sir Arthur left the presidency of CDB in 1973, it was to return to Princeton where he remained until his retirement in 1983.