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UVI Board OKs Faculty Organizing; UVI Receives $150K Donation

The University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees, in its annual June meeting on Saturday, withdrew its opposition to the V.I. Public Employees Relations Board's (PERB) decision certifying the UVI Chapter of the American Association of University Professors as the representative of the teaching faculty of University. At the conclusion of its executive session, Board Chair Alexander Moorhead announced that UVI's administration and legal counsel were authorized and directed to suspend opposition to the organization of the faculty but to continue with a petition to the PERB to clarify who is covered in the bargaining unit.

At the meeting Trustee and local businessman S. Donald Sussman made a $150,000 donation to the University fulfilling an offer that he made earlier this year. When the UVI Presidential Search Committee found that its finalists for the position of president both were being paid at a salary higher than the salary budgeted for 2009-2010, it was faced with the possibility of restarting the search to identify a candidate who satisfied its qualifications and whose current salary was below the budgeted salary. Trustee Sussman, who was a member of the Committee, encouraged the Committee to proceed to select whomever it believed was the best candidate and he privately offered to make a donation to substantially cover the shortfall. Based on the Committee's recommendation, during its last meeting on March 14th, the Board approved a contract employing Dr. David Hall as the president of the University effective on August 1, 2009.

The Board also ratified an approval authorizing the Research and Technology Park (RTP) to use its Ridge Property as collateral for loan or line of credit for operating expenses. Also ratified was the Board's Executive Committee's decision authorizing the UVI president to decline of the VI Office of Management and Budget's request for a financial contingency plan to accommodate the government's proposed reduction of UVI's budget by $3.4MM. It is the position of the UVI President that the University must be exempt from any reduction in funding from the VI government, in accordance with a provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 under which the Government will soon receive stimulus funds.

The Board elected Chair Moorhead and Vice Chair Henry Smock to continue serving in those positions for the 2009-2010 year. Smock was also elected to the Research and Technology Park Board of Directors to replace Debra Watlington.

In the meeting the Board also voted to appoint the UVI Board of Trustees Chairman, the President of UVI and the Vice President for Institutional Advancement as permanent members to the Foundation for the University of the Virgin Islands Board of Directors.

In a report of UVI's Key performance indicators by the Director of Institutional Research Dr. Mary Ann LaFleur, it was noted that UVI has seen a two percent increase in male enrollment this year, bringing the number of male enrollment up to 27%. Dr. LaFleur said that although enrollment headcount has remained steady for the year, the number of students attending UVI full-time has increased. The number of credit hours taken by students has also increased. To accommodate those increases the University will increase the number of courses offered between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the fall 2009 semester.

Saturday's meeting was one of several farewells. It was Dr. LaVerne Ragster's last meeting as president of the University. Dr Ragster assumed the presidency in August 2002. Long-serving trustee Dr. Auguste Rimpel, Jr. also said his goodbyes. He has served on the UVI Board for 13 years, 11 years as its chairman. In recognition of their many years of service to the University, Board Chair Alex Moorhead presented both outgoing President Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster and outgoing trustee, Dr. Auguste E. Rimpel engraved mahogany plaques.

It was also the last meeting for student Trustee Kenneth Selkridge and faculty trustee Dr. Aletha Baumann, whose terms have almost ended.

The UVI Board of Trustees will meet next on St. Croix on Oct. 31.