December 13, 1924
Born in St. Lucia, Fitzroy Richard Augier was educated at the Roman Catholic Boys Elementary School and at St. Mary's College in Castries and at the universities of St. Andrew and London. He was appointed as a junior research fellow at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University College of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, in 1954. In 1955, he became a lecturer in the department of history, a senior lecturer in 1965, and a professor of history in 1989.
As a historian, Augier worked to establish Caribbean history as a study in its own right. He was involved in three seminal publications. Firstly, the publication with Douglas Hall, Shirley Gordon, and Mary Reckord of The Making of the West Indies in 1960 revolutionized the teaching and studying of history in the region. It provided students with reading material, which permitted them to study and understand their societies, and stimulated volumes of writing and research on Caribbean topics. With Rex Nettleford and M.G. Smith, he produced the Report on the Rastafarian Movement, which demonstrated the importance of historical examination of this group in Caribbean society. He also served as chairman of the drafting committee for UNESCO's General History of the Caribbean.
These volumes reflect the extent to which Caribbean historiography has developed, and it is fitting that one of the founding fathers of Caribbean history is at the helm of this development. Augier has popularized Caribbean history. He infused his students with a sense of history and of the fundamental role of historical understanding for Caribbean development. Because he taught students in several departments, he influenced the generations that would carry on the work of development. Augier was the "Man with the Hammer" who developed and honed an appropriate curriculum for Caribbean university students and stimulated them to undertake further research.
Augier's efforts were not confined to the university. He criticized the Cambridge Caribbean history examination for its focus on Britain, was asked to review the Cambridge Ordinary and Advanced Level Caribbean history syllabuses, and for many years he was the sole examiner for the A level exams. Augier chaired the history panel of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) from its inception, and from 1986 to 1996 he served as chair of the Caribbean Examinations Council. In this latter role he spear-headed the move to institute a regional examination to replace the Cambridge A level examination, as a result of which, the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) has come on stream. Once again, this able foot soldier lobbied for popular support of the new program through regional meetings with government officials and teachers and through school visits. Caribbean history became fully legitimized. Thus, Augier contributed to the process of development of a cadre of Caribbean people who would begin to reinterpret their history.
Augier was also involved in curriculum development and teacher-training workshops for CXC and CAPE preparation. He served as examiner of the Institute of Jamaica, where he assisted in curriculum development, paper setting, and marking scripts for teacher training institutions in Jamaica. Because of his varied involvement in the education system, he was well placed to wield considerable influence on the teaching of history at secondary and tertiary levels in the region.
For Augier, education was the means to establish closer relations across the language barriers of the Caribbean. As a founding member and past president (1984) of the Association of Caribbean Historians, he promoted closer relations between French- and English-speaking historians. For this, he was honored as Chevalier, Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1989.
An administrator par excellence, Augier served as dean of the Faculty of General Studies (1967–1972), acting principal of the Cave Hill campus, (1970), and pro vice chancellor of the university (1972–1990). He influenced programming in the institution and along with Elsa Goveia, is credited with ensuring that the students of nonelite schools got a fair stake in the university. He has served on archive committees in Jamaica and initiated the establishment of the Barbados Archives. For his contribution to regional archival development, he was awarded a medal by the International Council of Archives. He also received awards from the Institute of Jamaica in 1996 and 2003, and was knighted for his contribution to education in St. Lucia. Sir Roy Augier is at heart a scholar, architect, visionary, pioneer, activist intellectual, and the quintessential Caribbean man.
See also Education in the Caribbean
Moore, Brian L., and Wilmot, Swithin R., eds. Before and After 1865: Papers on Education, Politics, and Regionalism in the Caribbean, in Honour of Sir Roy Augier. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1998.
d. rita pemberton (2005)