woman doing agriculture reseach

In the regular session of its quarterly meeting on June 19, via Zoom, the  University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees re-elected Henry Smock to serve as chairman and Oran Roebuck as vice-chairman.

“You have earned the confidence of your fellow Trustees and we look forward to your dynamic leadership,” said Board Trustee Dr. Yvonne Thraen.

“I wish to thank the Board for their vote of confidence and thank Chairman Smock for his guidance and leadership. I look forward to another year of progressive growth,” said Vice Chair Roebuck.

At Saturday’s meeting, the Board unanimously approved two new degree programs in the School of Agriculture – the Associate of Applied Science degree program in Horticulture and the Associate of Applied Science degree in Agroecology.

The Associate of Applied Science degree program in Horticulture is a two-year program designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills for a successful career in the horticulture industry.  In addition to providing a solid science foundation for propagation, production, and managing plants, the coursework will provide students with critical hands-on experience, both in the lab and the field.

The Associate of Applied Science degree in Agroecology is a two-year interdisciplinary program that will investigate the science and social impact of agroecology in the tropics. The terms agroecology and sustainable agriculture will be explained in detail and defined, and applications of the agroecological perspective to the ecosystems and agriculture unique to the tropics will be discussed.

The Board also voted to increase UVI’s Online Program (https://online.uvi.edu) tuition rates and faculty compensation rates. The Online Program’s tuition rate for undergraduate in-territory students will increase from $154 per credit to $225 per credit.  The in-territory graduate per credit hour cost will increase from $386 to $450. There will be no increase for out of territory students.

Fees required for on the ground student learning will now apply to the online degree program. Students in the Online Program will be assessed a $15 registration fee, a $45 technology fee and a $40 flat-rate fee for books.  

“This will help us to keep the courses running and have faculty feel appreciated and respected,” said UVI Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Camille McKayle. “This will encourage more students to enroll because we will be able to offer more courses.”  

Students sign up for eight weeks at a time for the Online Program.  It is important that students are able to continue through the program without a break, especially as we are building the UVI Online student enrollment.  Thus, UVI Online faculty are asked to teach courses, even when there may be one to three students.  This is often not fair compensation, as teachers are compensated at a per student rate.

“We are growing the online program. Two thousand and twenty-one is really the best year yet, but it is still growing. One of the things you want to do as you are growing is to keep students in the program,” said Dr. McKayle adding. “With the UVI Online Program, sometimes you might offer a course with just three students to continue the students in the program, so they do not have to stop the course.” Dr. McKayle continued, “When you are paying a low per student cost, the effort of faculty is still the same but they’re not getting that much to teach. In the on the ground program, we would cancel those courses and put those students in another section, but that is not an option in the Online Program.  

The Board of Trustees also voted unanimously to approve the filing of the completed Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form 990 for the year 2020, as presented to the Finance and Budget Committee. The form 990 asks that the University provide its governing members with a complete copy of the form prior to filing the form with the IRS.

As is customary, UVI President Dr. David Hall highlighted the excellence and commitment of those UVI employees or units that have performed exceptionally with the President’s Appreciation Award. This quarter’s award was presented to the Special Commencement Committee, who were responsible for the production of the 2021 Commencement Ceremony.  

“I am impressed by the dedication of a strong group of individuals, who were able to pull off a successful Commencement Ceremony in such a short time,” said Dr. David Hall. “The special joint Commencement Committee developed and produced an impressive online ceremony to celebrate the Class of 2021 on May 14, 2021,” he said. “The Committee also previously produced in December 2020, the University’s first virtual joint Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020. Both ceremonies were meaningful and impactful for graduates, their families and honored guests.”  

The ceremonies and social media coverage also garnered significant viewership when combined of over 100,000 views and impressions including the graduate stories, graduate degree frames featured in the ceremonies of participating students, and the related press releases regarding commencement.  

The following individuals who comprise the Special Commencement Committee are:  

  • Jana Austrie  
  • Francisca Barry  
  • Una Dyer (Co-Chair)  
  • Anyha Lord  
  • Dr. Paul Flemming  
  • Denise Humphrey  
  • Monifa Potter  
  • Gail Steele (Co-Chair)  
  • Dahlia Stridiron  
  • Dannica Thomas  
  • Tamika Thomas Williams  
  • Nereida Washington (Co-Chair)  
  • Silene Prentice, Class of 2021 Representative  
  • Kayla Francis, Class of 2021 Representative 

Board of Trustees

            At the end of his report to the Board, Dr. Hall presented Board Chairman Smock with an Honorary Degree in Philosophy. Chaiman Smock has served on the Board for more than 23 years, with five years as vice chair and seven years as Board chair.  President Hall said, “I hereby confer upon Henry C. Smock the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.”  Board Chaiman Smock graciously accepted the degree. “I am speechless,” he said. “This does fill a spot in my soul.”

With a hearty recommendation from the Board’s Governance Committee, Hannibal “Mike” Ware was unanimously elected to serve on the Board of Trustees for a five-year term beginning June 2021 – June 2026.  Ware will fill the position vacated by Board Chair Emeritus Alexander Moorhead.

Ware was sworn in as Inspector General on May 24, 2018, following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate. He is responsible for independent oversight of Small Business Administration’s (SBA) programs and operations, which normally encompass more than $100 billion in guaranteed loans and nearly $100 billion in Federal contracting dollars. As a result of SBA’s role in the nation’s pandemic response, he is providing oversight of over a trillion dollars of lending authority aimed at stabilizing the nation’s economy and providing vital capital to the nation’s small businesses. He also is a statutory member of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s (CIGIE) Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), serving alongside his Inspector General colleagues to provide a whole of Government response to the pandemic oversight effort. Within the PRAC, Inspector General Ware chairs the Subcommittee on Audits. In addition, Inspector General Ware serves as the chair of the Audit Committee for CIGIE and is a member of the CIGIE’s Executive Council.

Ware is a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from the University of the Virgin Islands. He also is a graduate of the Senior Executive Service Career Development Program. He has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He was conferred a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the UVI in December 2020 and has received several awards from the CIGIE as recognition for his significant work in the Inspector General community. Inspector General Ware currently serves on the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ Board of Regents.

Board Chair Smock welcomed Trustee Erica Johnson Creamer to the UVI Board of Trustees. Johnson Creamer earned her undergraduate degree at Hampton University and her post graduate degree at the University of Maryland. She currently leads Communications and Community Relations at Diageo USVI. Johnson Creamer serves on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Corporate Advisory Council.

At Saturday’s meeting, Chairman Smock thanked Trustee Thraen for 25 years of service on UVI’s Board of Trustees and presented her with an appreciation award plaque. “It has been a long journey. It has been a privilege. It has been an honor,” said Thraen, after accepting the award.  Saturday’s meeting will be her final Board meeting. “She may be leaving the Board of Trustees, but she is certainly a part of the UVI family,” said Chairman Smock.

Additionally, he thanked outgoing Trustee Dr. Verleen K. McSween for her service as faculty representative and Hadiyah Lang for her service as student representative on the Board.

Board Chairman Smock reported that while in Executive Session, the board approved the following:

  1. Approved Executive Session Minutes of the March 6, 2021Meeting of the Board
  2. Received an update regarding the COVID-19
  3. Approved Faculty Emeritus for two candidates
  4. Approved tenure for one candidate.
  5. Received an update on UVI NEXT
  6. Received an update report regarding Risk Assessment
  7. Received an update from the President regarding personnel matters
  8. Received an update on legal matters from Legal Counsel

The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.