ACC Building

Pathways to Greatness - Overview

Who We Are
The University of the Virgin Islands is the U. S. Virgin Islands' only public, baccalaureate diverse institution of higher education. It is a Land Grant institution and a Historically Black College and University. UVI is also part of the Sea Grant network through the University of Puerto Rico. The two campuses of UVI have a combined enrollment of approximately 2700 students. The institution offers 35 associate and bachelor degrees and six masters' degrees across its five colleges and schools. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and its professional schools are either accredited or have begun the process of seeking accreditation from specialized accrediting agencies. In fall 2011, full-time faculty totaled 105, with 73 percent holding doctoral degrees and 46 percent tenured. Of the 120 part-time faculty, 25 percent held doctoral degrees. Its 383-member administrative and support staff serves a diverse student population from a number of Caribbean island nations, the U.S. mainland, and countries around the world. More than 90 percent of the student population is from the Territory, 66 percent are black, 42 percent are 19 years of age or younger, 12 percent are Hispanic, 38 percent are male, and 75 percent are full time.

Economic Impact and Relevance
Although no recent economic impact analysis has been conducted, the University continues to make investments in the economic development of the Territory by maintaining a workforce of more than 500 persons, attracting visitors who spend their money in the local economy, and presently constructing facilities with an aggregate value of $20 million. The University has a strong research and public service program and annually receives millions of dollars in grants for research and development projects.

The University is home to a number of centers and institutes, including the Eastern Caribbean Center which conducts the decennial census for the Territory and serves as a hub for Territorial geospatial data, the Center for Marine and Environmental Studies which conducts numerous underwater and near-shore research, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the Virgin Islands University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, the Small Business Development Center, the Water Resources Research Institute, the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center, the Reichhold Center for the Arts, the Sports and Fitness Center, the Wellness Center, the Caribbean Green Technology Center, the Center for the Study of Spirituality and Professionalism, the Center for the Nurturing and Preservation of Virgin Islands Culture, the Center for the Study of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, and the UVI Institute of Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness.

Additionally, the University's Land Grant programs - the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Services - all have a significant impact on the lives of the people of the Territory and the wider Caribbean region. The Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research is also a vital contributor to the economic well-being of the Territory. Annually, the UVI Sports and Fitness Center serves as host for the renowned Paradise Jam Basketball Tournament that attracts numerous NCAA Division 1 teams and supporters to the Territory. The University's ability to host a number of other events throughout the year as well as engage in continuous physical improvements all attest to the measure of impact that the University has on the Territory.

Our History (Honoring the Past)
The University of the Virgin Islands is currently celebrating fifty years of higher education contributions to the Virgin Islands, the wider Caribbean, and the world. This anniversary year, 2012, is replete with celebrations and activities that honor the past and lays a foundation to create the future. Stakeholders and patrons are all very proud of the history of UVI and the enormous impact that it has had on its students, alumni, and the community.

UVI was chartered on March 16, 1962, as the College of the Virgin Islands - a publicly funded, coeducational, liberal arts institution - by Act No. 852 of the Fourth Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to that law, the institution's primary objective is to provide for "...the stimulation and utilization of the intellectual resources of the people of the Virgin Islands and the development of a center of higher learning whereby and wherefrom the benefits of culture and education may be extended throughout the Virgin Islands."

The first permanent campus opened on St. Thomas in July 1963, on 175 acres donated by the federal government. The first Board of Trustees took office in August 1963. In 1964, the college founded a second campus on St. Croix, on 130 acres also donated by the federal government. In 1972, the College of the Virgin Islands was awarded Land-Grant status by the U.S. Congress. This allowed for the establishment of an Agricultural Experiment Station and a Cooperative Extension Service. Since then, many other programs and services have been added. These include the Marine and Environmental Studies Program, and the sports and athletics program. In 1986, the College of the Virgin Islands was renamed the University of the Virgin Islands to reflect the growth and diversification of its academic curricula, community and regional services, and research programs. That same year, the United States Congress named UVI one of America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU); it holds the distinction of being the only HBCU outside of the continental United States.

The current president of the University, Dr. David Hall , its fifth president, began his tenure on August 1, 2009. Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster, who served as the fourth president of the University of the Virgin Islands from 2002 to 2009, succeeded Dr. Orville Kean who served from 1990. Dr. Kean succeeded Dr. Arthur A. Richards, who became president in 1980. Dr. Richards' predecessor, Dr. Lawrence C. Wanlass was appointed the first president of the College of the Virgin Islands in 1963 and held that office until 1980.

Our Legacy (For What We Are Known)
UVI is generally known as "the place to work and grow." It offers strong and dynamic leadership within a nurturing environment. The University promotes commitment to its seven management values of high quality performance, service excellence, informed decision-making, performance assessment, emotional and spiritual well-being, fiscal responsibility, and uncompromised integrity. UVI is proud to have two Rhodes Scholars and a Pulitzer Prize winner among its alumni. It is seen as an incubator of talent that transforms those who walk its halls to the next step in their academic pursuits and careers. Through programs like the Male Initiative, Junior University and other summer bridge programs, there has been a measurable increase in the number of male students enrolled at the University and the annual Man-up Conference and Junior University programs are well received by the community. The University's academic and community programs are respected as many of its students excel to academic excellence in a variety of professions and leadership positions in the Territory and the Eastern Caribbean. Its prominent alumni-base includes a premier, lawyers, doctors, scientists, teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and a wide variety of professionals.

New Realities and Opportunities
The University of the Virgin Islands, similar to other institutions of higher learning, continues to face new realities and opportunities. These realities include the limitations of the Territory's infrastructure as well as the adverse impact of the current global recession. UVI must position itself to meet the realities and embrace the opportunities. It must be nimble and ready to respond to the new realities that will shape the future of the higher education landscape.

Major Challenges
A major challenge for all areas of the institution is the shrinking financial support of the Government of the Virgin Islands resulting from the global economic recession. This may inhibit the institution's ability to launch new initiatives and maintain and upgrade existing programs.

Changing the culture to one of assessment, where systems are implemented to measure student-learning and institutional effectiveness is a challenge, especially in austere economic times. Assessment takes time and requires financial resources. The institution has already adopted the Nichols model, which is being used as a guide for the assessment of institutional effectiveness. In addition, there is an Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment who is leading this effort on behalf of the University. This is a good use of resources and makes assessment a focal point; however, the implementation of assessment plans, data gathering, and data analysis have to take place within various units, and the coordination of this effort is a challenge. With respect to the assessment of student-learning outcomes, there has been stability with the Director, who has been serving in this position for over three years. Additionally, the Provost has embraced the assessment of student-learning outcomes as a priority for the academic component.

Another challenge is the competition for students, not only from institutions offering traditional programs on the mainland and elsewhere in the Caribbean, but also from institutions outside the Territory that offer online degree programs. In the past few years, this has impacted enrollment, particularly at the graduate level. There are also changing demographics, including a declining population in secondary schools, which is a result of a declining birthrate in the Territory and a decline in immigration. In addition, many students have full-time or part-time employment and have the personal challenge of doing so while simultaneously raising a family. This is a challenge for the University. These combined forces affect their academic performance negatively, and it is difficult for UVI to address many of these students' needs. The global economic crisis, however, may encourage more students to stay close to home. These students may include, not just those from the Territory, but also those from the Eastern Caribbean. The University already has a market that views UVI favorably in Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and in the British Virgin Islands.

For those students who do not qualify for federal aid, scholarships are limited. This especially impacts the recruitment of international students. The University is, however, examining new means to address this situation and obtain the opportunity to offer more scholarships and attract more high performing students to its doors. At the same time, the University continues to work with the Department of Education through the P-16 Collaborative to improve the quality of education in the Territory and student performance on the SAT tests.

Current Opportunities
The most important opportunity for the institution at this time is the focus on building a great university and the recruitment of persons to fill various leadership roles on campus. Positions that, in the past, were filled on an interim basis by others holding other positions will be filled with highly qualified persons. Unfortunately, the recent decline in the revenues of the Government of the Virgin Islands has resulted in the Government mandating an 8 percent reduction in the salaries of employees in all its departments as well as agencies and instrumentalities, including the University, which receive funding from the Government. This has caused some positions in the University to revert to being filled on an interim basis due to employees leaving for other opportunities in the Territory or on the mainland with higher salaries.

The new administration of the University offers an opportunity to start anew with faculty and staff, especially with respect to the shared governance structure. The shared governance structure provides an additional opportunity for moving the institution forward and can serve to elevate morale of its workforce through participation in decision-making and information-sharing. This is important for all the segments involved: faculty, staff, students, and administration.

Another opportunity comes in the form of the alignment of priorities and resources through the development of the institution's new strategic plan - Pathways to Greatness. The strategic plan development process presents many opportunities, including focusing renewed and expanded focus on assessment. The way in which this plan is developed, presented, and assessed will help to set the tone for years to come.

The adoption of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Human Resources Manual presents new opportunities for the institution, relating to transparency. There are also new evaluation procedures, including the implementation of faculty development growth plans.

An opportunity, and also a challenge, is the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement, currently being undertaken by representatives of the administration and the faculty.

Institutional practices are being implemented to encourage more openness and transparency, especially in areas of great importance. A revised budgeting process is in place, with a University Budget Committee comprised of representatives of various segments of the institution. Each component and each school/college submits and presents a budget request to the Committee. The hearings to review the requests are open to the University community and are well publicized on campus through electronic media. Presentations to the University Budget Committee on the budget-request have to be linked to the strategic plan of the University. This promotes alignment of expenditures with the established priorities of the institution.

The creation of a new Center for Student Success in 2011 has provided an opportunity to impact enrollment, especially in the area of retention and persistence. The Center provides services for the consistent monitoring of students' performance and provides assistance on a timely basis to students who need it.

A great opportunity exists as the institution works to launch its first major capital campaign in recent years. Each component was asked for input and requested to participate in setting priorities for the capital campaign. This also moves the institution closer to proper alignment of budget to institutional priorities. Additionally, there is the opportunity to embed proper evaluation and assessment, thus improving institutional effectiveness into the campaign process.

Increased capacity in technology provides an opportunity for stronger marketing, more development of online and hybrid courses and programs, and strengthening of advising through greater access to information.