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UVI Board of Trustees Approves New Strategic Plan

strategic planning task force receiving presidential award from president david hall

In the regular session of its quarterly meeting on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in the Administration and Conference Center Building on the St. Thomas Campus, the Board of Trustees of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) approved a new five-year strategic plan for the University, titled “Greatness Through Innovation”.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the strategic plan. It has six focus areas: Innovation and Distinction; Leadership and Excellence in Academics, Research, and Public Service; Student Access, Recruitment, and Success; Measurement, Analysis, Knowledge Management and Results; Operational Efficiencies and Focus; and Valuing People, Relationships, and Culture.

UVI President David Hall described the process for developing this new Strategic Plan, including community input through town hall meetings and consultation with experts in creative planning and innovative thinking.

Highlights of the Strategic Plan include:

  • steps to become a leader in the use of technology in instruction
  • contributing to vocational and technical education for the territory in those areas where UVI faculty members already have relevant expertise
  •  increasing student engagement in research being carried on at UVI
  •  a more intentional focus on college readiness and career preparedness
  • making UVI a “University for Life” by expanding opportunities for continuing education, recertification, etc.
  •  in addition to pursuing free tuition for USVI residents, improving financial support for non-resident and graduate students
  • developing greater awareness and support for students’ mental health
  • a greater focus on alumni engagement with the university, starting with students
  •  creating a culture of inclusion and celebration of diversity, including emphasis on celebrating UVI’s identity as a Historically Black College/University
  •  develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) connecting UVI’s Virgin Islands Center for Caribbean Culture (VICCC) with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of African American History

The plan also sets forth a new mission statement for UVI: “The University of the Virgin Islands mission is to educate and empower the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and the world through an environment that promotes creativity, innovation and excellence in teaching, student learning, research, and community engagement.”

New Executive Director Peter H. Chapman also delivered a report on his first two months at the University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park (RT Park). He highlighted the fact that between Jan. 1. and Oct. 1, 2018, six new clients have joined the RT Park and others are in process. By the end of calendar year 2018, he expects to have 61 clients in total, up from 47 as of Dec. 31, 2017. “Client attraction helps to drive revenue, which is very important to our model. In FY 2017, we achieved $771,000 in revenue collections on behalf of UVI,” he said. Regarding reconstruction of the RT Park building on the Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix, he reported that the architect, Renee D’Adamo, is cautiously optimistic it will be finished by September, 2019.

Director Chapman concluded, “My vision is to position the RT Park as a more internationally visible economic development organization. One critical step is going to be investing the organization with resources, infrastructure, and strategic planning, to engage in best practice oriented, proactive economic development.”

President Hall also delivered his regular report to the Board. He highlighted the accomplishments of UVI students, alumni, faculty, and the institution at large.

Dr. Hall informed the Board of six UVI students who participated in the National Science Foundation – Historically Black Colleges and Universities (NSF – HBCU) Summer Undergraduate Experience program. The participating students were:

  • Belize Saunders – Applied Mathematics major
  • Samuel Gittens, Jr. – Biology major
  • Jair Smith – Computer Science major
  • Kenique Liburd – Computer Science major
  • Kaleb Liburd – Computer Science major
  •  Elisha Brunant – Computer Science major

Through an agreement with Ocean and Coastal Observing – Virgin Islands (OCOVI), these UVI students were able to participate in a data-collecting project using underwater drones that will aid in improved hurricane forecasting.

“One of the things we have been striving to communicate to our local students is that you can go away by staying home,” said President David Hall. 

“Part of this report demonstrates how many of our students, who are here, spend time away. We have so many students who participated in research projects during the course of the summer. These students were able to go into the labs of universities around the nation and be exposed to what is happening not just in the Virgin Islands but in other places and we are very excited about that.”

 The President also notified the Board of the seven students who successfully defended their master’s thesis. “We are striving to ensure that our master’s programs are increasing their level of rigor, making sure that students not just pass their courses but they do some kind of research work that demonstrates they are moving forward,” he said.

“When we look at the 2012-2017 strategic plan that we have just completed, one of the goals that we went way beyond is faculty achievement,” President Hall said.

The President informed the Board of a notable achievement whereby the University saw a record increase in the number of faculty publications and presentations. Thirteen faculty members successfully had their work published, accepted for publication in refereed journals, or accepted for review. Forty-seven faculty members participated in research presentations.

Among the significant institutional achievements, the President noted that UVI was the first university to be selected as the lead institution for a $9 million grant to research National STEM leadership through the National Science Foundation. 

As is customary, President Hall highlighted the excellence and commitment of those UVI employees or units that have performed exceptionally with the President’s Appreciation Award.

The President praised the members of the Strategic Planning task force for “their hard work in executing the new Strategic Plan for 2018-2023 – Greatness Through Innovation.”

Present to receive the award were:

  •  Dr. Camille McKayle – provost and vice president of Academic Affairs
  • Sharlene Harris – vice president of Information Technology, Library Services and Institutional Assessment
  • Aubrey Washington – interim dean of School of Business
  • Raul Carrillo - capital campaign manager, Institutional Advancement

 “While there are many other persons who may have contributed to this plan, it took the members of this task force to ensure that all ideas were properly executed,” said President Hall.

A second Presidential award was also given to the Institutional Advancement component, who the President commended for their hard work in securing a substantial amount of funds in donations. 

“They almost doubled the amount of monies raised in 2017, bringing in $4.9 million,” President Hall stated.

staff of institutional advancement receiving presidential award from president david hall

Present to receive the award were:

  • Mitchell Neaves - vice president of Institutional Advancement
  • Richard Cleaver - director of corporate, foundation and government relations
  • Linda Smith – director of alumni affairs and annual giving 
  • Raul Carrillo - capital campaign manager
  • Liza Margolis - special events coordinator
  • Peggy Fahie – database manager
  • Astrid Carmona Tuitt - administrative specialist
  • Ian Turnbull – marketing manager, Reichhold Center for the Arts
  • Che-Raina Warner – public relations specialist

In other business, the Board of Trustees authorized the University to enter into a MOU with the Virgin Islands Housing and Finance Authority (VIHFA) for the purpose of construction and joint management of a multi-purpose center on the Albert A. Sheen Campus. The center would serve as a shelter during times of emergency on the island of St. Croix, but will generally serve as a sports and fitness/wellness complex, convention center, and nonprofit meeting space that will be utilized by the University, the VIHFA and the St. Croix community. It will be located at the front of the campus, between the simulation center currently under construction and the main highway.

The Board also approved a 2019 fiscal year fundraising goal of $3 million and an alumni participation goal of 20%. Further, the Board approved establishment of a Wellness Leave Pilot Program for a period of one year. After the one-year period, the Administration will evaluate the program to determine if it is addressing campus health and wellness goals. Under the pilot program, employees will be allowed a two-hour leave weekly to engage in existing wellness activities, or to create their own individualized plans.

Provost Camille McKayle reviewed Key Performance Indicators, highlighting a number of achievements, among them:

  •  the first enrollment figures for UVI online courses, which show an upward trend
  • an increase in the number of out-of-territory students, now at 12%
  •  an increase in the number of faculty publications far exceeding the goal in the strategic plan
  • accreditation of the professional programs that are eligible for accreditation (over and above institutional accreditation as a whole)

Vice President for Institutional Advancement Mitchell Neaves reported that the University achieved a 284% increase in fundraising over last fiscal year, largely due to an outpouring of support, on the mainland and also from organizations in the territory, in the wake of the two Category 5 hurricanes. The bulk of these funds came through corporate and foundation giving. He also noted that the Campaign for UVI, which is slated to end in September 2019, has raised $24.4 million of its $25 million goal.

The Board then went into Executive Session. While in executive session, the Board approved candidates for the honorary degree, approved a list of potential commencement speakers, approved the President’s goals and objectives for 2018-2019, and approved, with one abstention, a request from the Administration on a financial matter.

The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held on Saturday, March 2, 2019.