In its quarterly meeting on Oct. 27, the University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees approved a bachelor of science in psychology degree, set the fundraising goals for 2013, granted president emeritus status to Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster and approved a series of measures designed to strengthen the university’s financial position.
The Board approved the degree to promote the marketability of UVI graduates in research careers and to better prepare them for continued study in graduate and post-graduate endeavors. The required courses for the BS degree will be similar to those of the existing bachelor of arts in psychology degree, but with increased science and mathematics course requirements.
The board set UVI’s fundraising goal at $3.4 million, which is a $500,000 increase of the amount raised in fiscal year 2012. The alumni giving rate for fiscal year 2013 was set at 42 percent. The 42 percent represents the rate achieved at the close of fiscal year 2012 – the highest in UVI’s history – following UVI President Dr. David Hall’s challenge to raise the alumni giving rate to 50 percent. “We are just very appreciative of the response our alums showed to this particular campaign,” Dr. Hall said, calling the challenge to raise the alumni giving rate from the previous year’s 16 percent to 50 percent “a tremendous stretch.” At the meeting held on the St. Thomas campus, Hall presented visuals comparing UVI’s 42 percent rate to 20 universities with the highest alumni giving rates, as ranked by the U.S. News and World Report. “Of these institutions that are in the top 20, very few of them are above the mark that we’ve reached,” Dr. Hall said. He noted that in a three-year period UVI’s alumni giving rate went from a low of six percent to a high of 42 percent. “That is a trajectory that you cannot ignore,” he said. “It is worth us praising and understanding how rare this really is.”
The board approved a five percent tuition increase, effective for the fall 2013 semester. The increase will add approximately $100 per semester to a full-time student’s tuition costs. It is expected to generate $500,000 for the university. “Institutions cannot survive without having regular tuition increases,” Dr. Hall said, noting decreased levels of V.I. government appropriations, increased costs of operations and implementation of the goals of the strategic plan “Pathways to Greatness.” The increase, which Hall described as “fair” and “reasonable,” is not expected to have a negative effect on UVI’s ability to attract or retain students. He noted that in student forums held on both campuses, students did not reject the proposed increase. “Our present students understand it and accept it,” Dr. Hall said. “Without this [increase], we have no resources to address the basic needs,” Hall said. “Even in challenging times, we have to make hard decisions.” Trustee Jennifer Nugent Hill said the tuition increase is fair, given the nation-wide average tuition increase of eight percent. The increase will set tuition rates as follows:
Residents: Part-time Undergraduate – $140 per credit
Non-Residents: Part-time Undergraduate – $420 per credit
Residents: Full-time Undergraduate – $4,190 per year
Non-Residents: Full-time Undergraduate – $12,570 per year
Residents: Graduate – $350 per credit
Non-Residents: Graduate – $700 per credit
In other financial business, the board approved the following:
• An accounts receivable write-off policy, which is in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and is recommended by UVI’s external auditors.
• The transfer of term endowed scholarships from UVI to the Foundation for the University of the Virgin Islands – the primary manager of UVI’s endowed funds – where the earning of interest can be maximized and the interest earned on the funds can be used for scholarships.
• An investment policy which will guide the investing, managing, using and otherwise administering of UVI’s quasi-endowment funds.
• The Nevis Island Administration Memorandum of Understanding, which allows graduates from the Nevis Sixth Form College to attend UVI at a tuition rate of 1.75 times the rate for Virgin Islands residents and commits the Nevis Island Administration to provide scholarships for Nevis students to attend UVI.
In other action, former UVI President Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster – the university’s fourth president and first female president – was granted president emeritus status by the board. The board also passed a resolution to commend Dr. Hall for his job performance and to amend the board’s goals for fiscal year 2013.
In an update of the Research and Technology Park (RTP), Executive Director David Zumwalt said the RTP closed the fiscal year with revenues of $2.4 million, which allowed the park to liquidate accumulated deficits from previous years. Zumwalt reported that the RTP’s new building on St. Croix is on budget and expected to be completed in early 2013. He said the RTP has secured $11million in funding for the building project and is seeking an additional $2.5 million to meet the project’s cost of $13.5 million.
A review of UVI’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) showed that enrollment has decreased by seven percent. Overall student retention remains steady, while male retention has increased by four percent. Total alumni contributions have increased by 62 percent.
In executive session, the board approved the candidates for UVI’s honorary degrees, a list of people to be considered to be the May 2013 commencement speaker and a resolution to ratify the presidential goals. In executive session the board also accepted Dr. Hall’s 2011-2012 self-appraisal and gave the university guidance in reducing legal costs.
As customary, Dr. Hall recognized specific UVI employees and departments that have performed exceptionally with the President’s Appreciation Awards. Recipients for this quarter were: St. Thomas campus physical plant manager Charles Martin and the physical plant staff for their work in transforming four Classroom Administration Building classrooms to modern cutting-edge learning environments and in upgrading the entryway to residence halls; Director of Capital Projects Gerard Buggy and the capital projects staff for coordinating the construction of the St. Thomas campus’s West Residence Hall; and Vice President of Institutional Advancement Dionne V. Jackson and the Institutional Advancement staff for raising the alumni-giving rate to 42 percent.
During the board lunch, Dr. Hall commended board members for their dedication and service, presenting each with a pen set and a commemorative plate featuring photos of all UVI presidents. Additionally, Board of Trustees Liaison Gail Steele presented board members with a booklet titled “Fifty Years of Governance and Trusteeship,” which chronicles the history of UVI trustees.
The next meeting of the UVI Board of Trustees is scheduled for March 9, 2013, on UVI’s Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.