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UVI Celebrates 47 Years with Charter Day Activities

March 16, 2009 — Forty-seven is an important number at the University of the Virgin Islands for two reasons: 47 years ago an act of the V.I. legislature established the school, and there were 47 students in the first enrollment.
This month the university is celebrating the charter that established it with a ceremony and other activities throughout the month to commemorate its founding. An official Charter Day Ceremony took place Monday morning in the Administration and Conference Center on St. Thomas and in the the Great Hall on the St. Croix campus.
Today enrollment stands at more than 2,000 students, and UVI is a nationally accredited institution, recognized as one of the nation's historically black colleges and universities. The university conferred 323 degrees in 2008.
At Monday's ceremony on St. Thomas, keynote speakers Ian Tomlinson and Reginald Vigilant of Omni Systems spoke about what UVI had given them and what their expectations were from the university. Both men earned degrees from UVI in 1988. Omni Systems is a Washington, D.C.-based government contractor with more than 50 employees.
A quote by Marcus Garvey kicked off Tomlinson's remarks: "If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence you have won before starting."
Tomlinson credits UVI with helping him build the confidence he needed to create his own successful company, which today manages critical systems for such clients as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the offices of the Army Reserves.
"UVI gave me the confidence that I needed to be the successful entrepreneur that I am today," Tomlinson said.
He related his experience using UVI's computers as part of a class while still in high school.
"My confidence began to build because of the accessibility that UVI offered," Tomlinson said. "UVI has had the greatest impact on my life. It is from the opportunities that were afforded me."
Vigilant talked about what he expected from UVI in the future, continuing to make UVI's unique opportunities available, and urged students to take advantage of every opportunity that UVI affords.
In her final Charter Day address, outgoing university President LaVerne E. Ragster recognized and honored a number of contributors to the university's success, including Dr. and Mrs. Orville Kean, who attended the ceremony. Dr. Kean is president emeritus of the university. Ragster's successor, David Hall, was announced over the weekend. (See "UVI Board Picks Law Professor as President.")
"We ought to applaud all that came before and that are here now," Ragster said.
She enumerated some of the university's accomplishments, including becoming a nationally accredited university, achieving land-grant status and achieving historically black college and university designation.
"On this anniversary we should consider how far we have come and take the opportunity to consider our future," Ragster said.
The next president will have to face how to acquire resources to help the university grow despite the economic times, she said.
Celebration of the university's anniversary will continue for the rest of the month, with health fairs on the St. Croix Campus, a lecture on Haiti by global health expert Dr. David Walton, a law fair, a model United Nations Conference and a performance by Gregory Isaacs and Tarrus Riley at the Reichhold Center, as well as many other activities. For more information, click here.
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