University of the Virgin Islands President David Hall leads the UVI community in mourning the death of Associate Professor of Humanities Gene Emanuel, a member of the faculty of the UVI College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Prof. Emanuel died Thursday evening, July 28.
Prof. Emanuel joined the UVI faculty in 1981, when the University was still the College of the Virgin Islands (CVI). Throughout his career, Prof. Emanuel stressed that learning involves more than acquiescing to the status quo - that the consciousness of students must actually be raised. An avid Pan-Africanist, Prof. Emanuel's passion for Afro-Caribbean history and culture was always evident.
He was one of almost 100 delegates of the African Union's (AU) African Diaspora Technical Committee of Experts to gather this past February in Pretoria, South Africa. The delegates set out to create a roadmap for the African Diaspora, which includes defining the Diaspora, organizing it through regular AU Diaspora Conferences and developing a program of action.
"The University of the Virgin Islands is not the same place today as it was yesterday because Professor Gene Emanuel is no longer with us," President Hall said. "We are saddened by his sudden death, and mourn with his family and this community, which he loved so much and served so well. He represented the cultural consciousness of the University, and we must now work even harder to carry forth his work and preserve his outstanding legacy."
A thought-provoking instructor, it was Prof. Emanuel's charismatic style that engaged UVI students in courses he taught, including the Freshman Development Seminar, World Literature, American Literature, Black American Literature and English courses "Perspectives on Contemporary Issues" and "Conscious Reader."
Social Science Professor Dr. Dion Phillips and Prof. Emanuel had been colleagues since the 1980s.
"He taught a cluster of courses. Because of his classroom charisma, which emboldened him to students, his classes were always in great demand," Dr. Phillips said.
Emanuel and retired UVI Humanities Professor Dr. Gilbert Sprauve annually led hikes to the Fortsberg historic site on St. John, where enslaved Africans led a rebellion against a garrison of Danish soldiers in 1733.
A former faculty representative to the UVI Board of Trustees, Emanuel spearheaded the Intercollegiate Debate Society at UVI and helped to create the curriculum for a Caribbean literature course at UVI. He was so beloved by UVI students that year after year he was selected to be the Commencement marshall.
"He's left indelible memories. The challenge for those who are left behind and the next generation is to carry forth that torch," Dr. Phillips said.
"He was an excellent teacher and great mentor," said UVI student Shawna Ludvig, whose Summer Session II course with Prof. Emanuel ended on July 29. "He became a friend - someone you can talk to, go to, anytime." Ludvig, who took three Humanities courses with Prof. Emanuel, said she will remember him as someone who always emphasized the brilliance of Caribbean authors. "He always wanted people to know about Caribbean authors, whether they were on other islands or in the Virgin Islands," she said. "I cried because I had this great mentor and now he is gone."
Stanley Jacobs, the bandleader of "Stanley and the 10 Sleepless
Nights," remained Prof. Emanuel's lifelong friend. The two grew up
in the Water Gut area of Christiansted, St. Croix, graduated from
Christiansted High School and attended Lincoln University in
Jacobs said Emanuel's interest was clear from the start. "He was always interested in the cultural part of the Virgin Islands."
"Prof. Emanuel was certainly one of our most beloved professors," UVI Professor Emerita of History Marilynn Krigger said. "This is a loss for both the University and the Virgin Islands community as a whole."
He is survived by his wife Mary and his children.