The University of the Virgin Islands received the National Alumni Association of the Year Award on Friday, June 28, at the Third Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ (HBCU) Awards on the Jackson State University Campus, in Mississippi. UVI earned the award as a result of a 223 percent increase in its alumni giving rate in 2012 and the national exposure the University received as a result of this accomplishment. UVI President Dr. David Hall documented the achievement in an article titled “Virgin Islands Miracle,” which was featured in the Huffington Post, the HBCU Digest, the Tom Joyner Foundation website, and HBCU Connect. It was also involved in an Academic Impressions case study.
“We are ecstatic,” said Linda I. Smith, director of Annual Giving and Alumni Affairs, who attended the awards ceremony in Mississippi. “I am overwhelmed, but humbled that we received the award although we went up against much older and larger institutions.” The historic alumni giving rate was achieved after President Hall and the Board of Trustee's Development Committee set the aspirational goal of a 50 percent alumni participation rate. Smith led the institution’s “50 for 50” fundraising campaign which aimed to raise the annual giving rate from 13 percent to 50 percent. UVI achieved a 42 percent alumni giving rate. “I never thought we would be where we are now,” said Smith. “We were just doing our jobs. I never thought it would lead to a national award. I believe this is truly a ‘Virgin Islands Miracle’.”
Smith said that the Development Office conducted multiple fundraising initiatives and used all the resources they had at their disposal. “The Alumni Affairs team lives and breathes our campaigns,” she said. “We could not have done it without the student body, alumni, our development team and the community we serve.”
“UVI's alumni are the stars here,” said UVI Vice President of Institutional Advancement Dionne Jackson. “They stepped up and answered the call. This would not have been possible without their willingness to respond to the challenge and give back to their alma mater.”
The other HBCU’s nominated for award were Tuskegee University, Spelman College, Morgan State University, and Winston-Salem State University. “It was very much an honor for the University of the Virgin Islands to be acknowledged for our work by our peers,” said Jackson. Outgoing UVI Alumni Trustee Marthious Clavier was also pleased to be honored by his peers. “Being there in person and being among Universities that are older and larger than UVI in size reemphasized the point that it’s not based on size or age,” said Clavier. “Great things can come from individuals or organizations that strive for greatness.”
Smith continues to work hard on UVI’s fundraising efforts. “I look forward to remaking history this year,” she said. The Development Office has embarked on a “First to 50” challenge and UVI’s alumni have already hit the halfway mark to their fundraising goals. They are four percentage points ahead of where they were last year at this same time. “We never stopped what we were doing,” she said. “This initiative was not just for the Golden Jubilee year. We believe in making miracles.”
The HBCU Awards Ceremony is held annually to acknowledge and celebrate achievements at historically black colleges and universities throughout the United States in the fields of leadership, arts, athletics, research and community engagement. All of the nominees for Alumni Association of the Year earned media coverage for social, political and financial support for their university or have experienced increased giving, alumni membership or campus support. Winners in each category are selected by a secret ballot of 13 HBCU presidents. The award is presented by the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, Inc. Complete Results – including criteria for each award and the competing schools – are available from the 2013 winners tab on the www.hbcuawards.net website.