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Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to Speak at UVI Commencement in May

Photo of UVI 2014 Commencement Keynote Speaker Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Harvard University Professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a noted literary historian, activist and filmmaker, will be the keynote speaker at the University of the Virgin Islands’ 2014 Commencement Ceremonies scheduled for May 17, on St. Thomas, and for May 18, on St. Croix. Professor Gates is also well known for his numerous PBS documentary presentations, the most recent being the six-part, 2013 series “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.” He wrote, executive produced and hosted that award-winning effort.

Photo at Right:
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., will be the keynote speaker at UVI's 2014 Commencement Ceremonies.

Dr. Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard, a post he has held since arriving there in 1991. Before joining the Harvard faculty, Dr. Gates taught at Yale, Cornell and Duke Universities. He will also receive an honorary degree from UVI.

Photo of honorary doctorate recipients Ron de Lugo and Horace Clarke

Hon. Ron de Lugo 
and Horace Clarke 
to Receive Honorary Degrees

Joining Dr. Gates in receiving UVI honorary degrees at the 2014 Commencement will be the Virgin Islands’ first elected Delegate to Congress the Hon. Ron de Lugo, and St. Croix baseball legend and youth mentor Horace Clarke. “These individuals represent the highest level of their professions,” said UVI President Dr. David Hall, who will preside over Commencement Ceremonies and present the honorary degrees.

De Lugo, who was known for having sparked the revival of Carnival in 1952, was elected to four terms in the Virgin Islands Legislature. He also served as St. Croix Administrator from 1961 to 1962, and was elected to the first of 10 terms as the Congressional Delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1972. Dr. Hall said de Lugo “devoted his professional life to improving the quality of the social, economic and political development of the U.S. Virgin Islands.” His list of accomplishments included the realization of a long-held goal, during the tenure of House Speaker Thomas C. Foley, when delegates from the territories and the District of Columbia received the right to vote in the House Committee of the Whole. De Lugo retired from public office in 1995. In 2003, the Federal Building on St. Thomas was named in his honor.  

Clarke was born and raised in Frederiksted, where he developed an early love for baseball that led to a long professional career with Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees. He was the team’s regular second baseman from 1967 through 1973. Dr. Hall said honoring Clarke “recognizes his professional career, athletic accomplishments in baseball and his mentorship and contributions to the youth of the U.S. Virgin Islands.” Following his professional career, Clarke returned to St. Croix where he developed young players in the territory as a baseball specialist for the Virgin Islands Government.

“UVI is indeed privileged and honored to have Dr. Gates as the keynote speaker,” Dr. Hall said. “He is regarded as one of the most powerful academic voices in America, and is widely recognized for his extensive research of African American history and literature.” Dr. Gates has created 13 documentary films, and authored 16 books and scores of articles for leading publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times and Time. He is currently shooting the next season of “Finding Your Roots,” which is scheduled to air on PBS this fall.

UVI’s St. Thomas Campus Commencement is scheduled at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, in the Sports and Fitness Center. The Commencement on St. Croix will take place on the grounds of the Albert A. Sheen Campus at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 18. Additional information about UVI’s upcoming Commencement, along with links to archived videos and information from the 2013 Commencement are featured in the President’s Section of the UVI website – and from this direct link.

Information about the University’s policy and procedures for awarding honorary degrees, along with downloadable nomination forms, is featured in the Trustees’ Section of the UVI website and on the Commencement webpage. Members of the University community may nominate individuals for consideration. A committee of UVI faculty, staff, students and alumni evaluates nominees and presents its recommendations to the President, who makes final recommendations to the Board’s Academic, Research and Student Affairs Committee. The full Board of Trustees approves the final selections.