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Trustee Sussman Donates $1 Million to UVI; Revised Tuition Remission Policy Approved

University of the Virgin Islands Trustee S. Donald Sussman has donated $1 million toward the construction of a new science building on UVI's St. Thomas campus.

UVI President David Hall announced Mr. Sussman's donation while delivering the President's Report to the UVI Board of Trustees at its quarterly meeting on the St. Croix campus on Saturday, June 12. Following the meeting, President Hall said Mr. Sussman's donation is the largest single gift the University has received during his presidency.

"This is just phenomenal," President Hall said. "Construction of the science building is part of an overall plan to build four buildings. To do this we are going to need public and private resources. A local donation such as this is the anchor to make sure that this institution moves forward."

Mr. Sussman recently issued a matching gift challenge, pledging to match first-time donations to the University of $100 or more, up to a maximum of $100,000. During the Board of Trustees meeting on Saturday it was revealed that the Sussman challenge has thus far resulted in approximately $97,000 in new donations to the University.

Speaking after the Board meeting, Mr. Sussman said his $1 million science building donation is intended to serve as the "lead gift" to the University's construction effort, which will require additional donor support.

"It's a vote of confidence in Dr. Hall, his administration, and how he's moving the University forward at a rapid pace," Mr. Sussman said.

The science building will replace the existing chemistry and biology laboratories located throughout the St. Thomas campus with state of the art labs in a single facility. Three other buildings - a residence hall on the St. Thomas campus, and an academic building and multi-purpose building on the St. Croix campus - are also planned.

The Board unanimously approved a revised tuition remission policy and adopted the Tuition Exchange Program. The revised UVI tuition remission policy allows professional and regular staff, their spouses and eligible dependent children tuition remission once the employee completes an initial probationary period (and confirmation of continuing employment), as opposed to the previous requirement of five consecutive years of employment. Tuition Exchange, Inc. is a non-profit national organization that enrolls interested colleges and universities as members. The dependent children of eligible UVI employees may desire to attend another institution that is a member of Tuition Exchange, Inc. in order to continue their studies.

The Board approved a proposal to award honorary degrees to individuals whose outstanding accomplishments may serve as an inspiration to UVI students and the wider community.

"This proposal is something that I think is consistent with our quest for greatness as a University and is consistent with what is done by other universities," President Hall said.

In other business the Board approved a newly created charter for the Audit Committee to the Board, as well as an updated version of the Board of Trustees manual. The Melvin Evans Center electrical rewiring and upgrade project was also approved.

Board Chair Alexander Moorhead and Vice Chair Henry Smock were unanimously elected to serve as chair and vice chair for the 2010-2011 academic year. Following the executive session, Mr. Moorhead noted that it was the final meeting for Student Trustee Kyza A. Callwood and Faculty Trustee Patricia Rhymer-Todman, whose terms have ended, and thanked them for their service.

A proposal by the Budget Committee, to adjust the University's budget for fiscal year 2011 in order to support the new master's degree program in psychology, was unanimously approved.

Dr. Mary Ann LaFleur, director of the Office of Institutional Research and Planning presented the University's Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Enrollment for the 2009-2010 academic year showed a 10 percent increase in full-time equivalency. The retention of male students increased slightly while female students experienced a slight decline.

In executive session tenure was approved for five faculty members: Erik Heikkila, Lonnie Hudspeth, Adam Parr, Lomarsh Roopnarine and Hosanna Solomon.

The next meeting of the UVI Board of Trustees will take place on the St. Thomas campus in November.