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UVI Board Approves FY 2013 Budget; Gives Ok for Solar Power Purchase

In its quarterly meeting held on June 9, the University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees passed resolutions that will have significant and far-reaching impact on the University and the Territory. The Board approved a new University strategic plan and the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 operating budget. The body also gave the University the ok to move forward with a solar power purchase agreement.

UVI will purchase five megawatts of solar-generated power - three megawatts on the St. Thomas campus and two megawatts on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix - from Caribbean Wind Energy and System 3 through a 20-year power purchase agreement. The University-wide Photovoltaic System Project will reduce UVI's dependence on power supplied by the V.I. Water and Power Authority. The project, whose design will include ground-mount and carport systems, is expected to be completed by January 2013. UVI will not incur any up-front costs for the project.

The Board approved a FY 2013 operating budget of $44,939,888, which is several million less than the FY 2012 operating budget. UVI anticipates $22.9 million in V.I. Government contributions for FY 2013, some $3.5 million less than the previous year, based on correspondence from the V.I. Office of Management and Budget that set a UVI expenditure ceiling. The University balanced the FY 2013 budget by reducing the operating budget of each University office, component and school/college; eliminating vacant faculty and staff positions; reducing travel expenses; and reducing food expenses.

"We are beyond the cutting of fat. We are getting to the bone," UVI President Dr. David Hall, said at the meeting. "We are doing the best we can to absorb that reduction."

The Board also approved "Strategic Plan 2017 - Pathways to Greatness." The five-year strategic plan consists of six areas of focus - Academic Quality and Excellence, Student Development and Success, Community Engagement and Globalization, Modern and Safe University Environment, Organizational and Human Development, and Financial Sustainability and Growth. There are 50 performance goals and 96 measurable objectives. Trustees praised the strategic plan for responding to the needs of the community and positioning the University for success.

"This University has the potential to be the main driver of the resurrection that we (as a community) need," said Trustee Dr. Wesley S. Williams, Jr. Trustee Jennifer Nugent-Hill said the University needs the continued financial support of the government, the private sector, individuals and all of its stakeholders to improve the community.

In the President's Report, Dr. Hall recognized the success of the 50 for 50 Campaign, which aims to raise the alumni giving rate to 50 percent. Dr. Hall reported that UVI has increased its alumni giving rate from six percent, two years ago, to 25 percent - in what he called a "tremendous feat." He encouraged alumni who have not given to make a contribution. "We are still committed to reaching our goal," Dr. Hall said.

At the meeting, held on the Albert A. Sheen St. Croix Campus, Board Chair Alexander A. Moorhead and Vice-Chair Henry C. Smock were unanimously elected to serve another term.

The Board also approved the following:
• Amended Rules Governing Appeals to the Board, allowing for the electronic filing of appeals.
• A revised Student Code of Conduct
• A new Board assessment tool
• The Periodic Review Report for UVI's accrediting body, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
• The issuance of tablet computers to Board of Trustees members in order to replace the printing, collating, binding and distribution of Board material
• Financial policies that will achieve best practices in the University's standards of financial integrity and sound financial controls
• An amendment to the memorandum of understanding with the University of St. Martin to eliminate the offering of fixed tuition rates, which did not change as UVI rates changed, and instead offer rates based on a percentage of UVI non-resident rates.

A review of UVI's capital projects indicated that the new residence hall on the St. Thomas campus is on schedule for completion by Aug. 5 and the new Research and Technology Park Building on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix will be ready for tenants by March 2013.

During the meeting, the Board thanked outgoing Student Trustee Charnele Burton and Faculty Trustee Dr. Teresa Turner for their service. The Board also thanked UVI Provost Dr. Karl Wright, whose resignation will become effective in July. A Presidential Award was given to the UVI Golden Jubilee Committee and was accepted by committee co-chairs Dr. Henry Smith and Dr. Simon B. Jones-Hendrickson.

In executive session, the Board of Trustees approved faculty tenure for Dr. Donna Nemeth and Dr. Paul Jobsis. Both are professors in the College of Science and Mathematics. The Board also approved Kiril Sokoloff as a member of the Foundation for the University of the Virgin Islands Board of Directors.