Azan hailed for vision, leadership as Munro College mourns

POTSDAM, St Elizabeth — Elias Azan has been lauded for his vision and dedication to Munro College, his alma mater, where he was board chairman up to the time of his passing on Wednesday.

Azan, who was 65, had tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted for over 10 days in a Corporate Area hospital, according to a social media post made by his son Omar.

On Thursday, Munro College Principal Mark Smith and Victor Tomlinson, president of the old boys’ association, paid tribute to Azan who enrolled at Munro in 1967.

“I met him in 1967,” Tomlinson told the Jamaica Observer. “We went into Munro together as two first-formers. We spent seven years together in school and he ended up being head prefect in our final year. We were in the same dormitories, so we were close from then.”

Azan had served as president of the old boys’ association for three years, giving up the position in 2019 to become school board chairman.

Tomlinson credited the development of the school to Azan’s leadership, saying he “had a hand in almost all projects”.

“When he got back to Jamaica [from Barbados] he reconnected with his classmates and since then we have been in touch. He was an absolutely great, energetic supporter of the school. He used up all the contacts he had across Jamaica and the world. He generated a lot of support for the school [and] contributed personally,” said Tomlinson.

“He was instrumental in the development of the tennis courts. His most recent project was the repurposing of the old Coke Farquharson dormitory. He had a hand in almost all the projects [to upgrade the school],” he added.

Principal Smith described Azan as a true patriot who believed in the value of education.

“He believed that education was the only way to strengthen the fundamentals of our country and to turn back much of the challenges that we have experienced since Independence,” said Smith.

“He was deeply committed to the school, not only in his role as chairman,” said Smith, who also commended Azan’s leadership.

“It has been an absolute honour working with him as he embodied so much of what we talk about in terms of effective leadership… He was a transformational leader. He [could] inject energy into the room, no matter what the situation was he would be that person full of enthusiasm and energy,” said Smith.

Azan, up to the time of his passing, had great plans of modernising the school which was thrusted to full online learning due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“He believed in improving the overall infrastructure of the school. He has been very instrumental in helping to network with both old boys in the Diaspora as well as local old boys that are in business to kind of get the type of financial support for the school as we went through a phase of improving the school’s overall infrastructure,” said Smith.

“We spoke often about the drive for a digital classroom initiative that we have been working on to reinvent the way that we engage students in the classroom, how we redefine teaching and learning,” added Smith, who said Azan was one of the greatest supporters of technological advancement.

Azan spearheaded initiatives raising millions of dollars from alumni and had his eyes set on achieving three legacy projects.

“He used his roles to have a positive impact on staff, students and parents. It was during his tenure as president of the old boys’ association that we were able to see larger donations towards the Munro College Scholarship Fund, providing over $18 million,” said Smith.

The three legacy projects an endowment fund, a school stadium, and information and communications technologies infrastructure were a part of passionate discussions and plans.

“The school stadium we are actively pursuing at a cost of over $200 million to reinforce the school’s rich legacy in sports. I hope that individuals will work with us to see how best we can support the school in achieving these missions,” said Smith.

“He and I worked very closely on several projects to raise funds to assist upgrading the Wi-Fi infrastructure of the school along the lines to ensure we could fully adapt the digital classroom and make that transition,” added Smith.

“The entire school family is in mourning with his wife Yasmin and his sons Lutfy and Omar,” said Smith.

Azan also served in Barbados as honorary consul for Jamaica for over 10 years, during which time he was also dean of the Consular Corps of Barbados.

In 2008 the Jamaican Government invested him with the Order of Distinction for his service to Jamaica and Jamaicans in Barbados.

At the time of his passing Azan was the group director of operations at Bashco Trading Company Limited.

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