The University of the Virgin Islands has attracted an impressive list of national leaders and experts to speak at major upcoming UVI events. Prominent businesswoman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis, will be the featured speaker in UVI's inaugural presentation of the 13D Entrepreneurship Speaker Series, at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 18, in the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas campus. Lewis is the chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC, a family investment firm. She is the widow of Reginald F. Lewis, known as America's first African-American billionaire. In 1994, Lewis assumed the leadership of the $2 billion multinational food company TLC Beatrice International after her husband's death. When she took over as chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice International, Loida Lewis won over a skeptical business community by selling corporate assets, paying down debt, downsizing and increasing earnings. After running the company for six years, in 2000 she sold the company and its related businesses, achieving a 35 percent return on investment for its shareholders. She was named the "Top Business Woman in America" in 1995 by Working Woman Magazine. She will speak on the topic "Corporate Governance and Ethics."
Harvard Law School Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. will be the speaker for the Annual Alfred O. Heath Distinguished Lecture Series. Ogletree is a prominent legal theorist who has made an international reputation by taking a hard look at the complex issues of law, and by working to secure the rights guaranteed by the constitution for everyone equally under the law. He is the author of several books, and the recipient of many national awards and honorary degrees. He is the founding and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Huston Institute for Race and Justice, which has engaged in a wide range of educational, legal and policy issues. Prof. Ogletree will speak on the topic "The Impact of President Obama's Re-election and Gun Violence in the Virgin Islands."
The lectures are scheduled for April 4, at the Reichhold Center on UVI's St. Thomas campus and April 5, in the Great Hall on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. Both events begin at 6 p.m.
Former U.S. Congressman, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and President of the NAACP Kweisi Mfume will be UVI's 2013 commencement keynote speaker. Mfume has had an illustrious career as a lawmaker, activist and commentator - starting first as a member of the Baltimore City Council. In local government service, Mfume led efforts to diversity city government, improve community safety and enhance business development. As a congressman, Mfume consistently advocated landmark business and civil rights legislation. As head of the NAACP he raised the organization's national profile, raised significant outside contributions and helped to restore its prominence among the nation's civil rights organizations. Mfume has served on many boards, is the recipient of 10 honorary doctorate degrees and has won hundreds of other awards, proclamations and citations. UVI's St. Thomas campus commencement ceremony will be held on May 11, and the St. Croix Albert A. Sheen Campus commencement ceremony will be held on May 12.
The public is invited to the 13D Entrepreneurship Speaker Series and the Alfred O. Heath Distinguished Lecture Series, which are both free.
UVI President Dr. David Hall said that securing speakers of such stature is a tremendous sign of UVI's ability to attract outstanding national leaders to the University. "All of the speakers have excelled in their fields and made outstanding contributions to business, politics, civil rights and the legal profession," Dr. Hall said. "It is impressive that they are sharing their knowledge, insights and wisdom with the University and the community," Dr. Hall added. He noted that each will speak on relevant topics.
"Economic development and gun violence are two of the major challenges facing the Virgin Islands," Dr. Hall said. "These speakers will enlighten the UVI community and the broader community about how we can address these critical challenges," he said. "They are inspirational and transformative individuals who can inspire our students to be agents of transformation," Dr. Hall continued. "Each of them will hopefully inspire us all to reach a little deeper and find the individual and collective will to make a difference in the world."For more information, call UVI's Public Relations Office at (340) 693-1057.