-I ii -
*^4L r" r..
5 Balanced Ecosystem
at core of UVI Model Farm
Taking it to the Streets: Service
Learning Provides Practical Experience
8 Tennis Anyone?
Top-Notch Team Seeks Competitors
9 Eat Your Vegetables: UVI biotechnology
research enhances plants
11 UVI's Emerging Caribbean Scientists Program
13 Making House Calls
15 Depth Charge: Anegada Climate
Tracers Probe Caribbean Sea
17 The Making of a President
23 Innovation, Creativity Generates
27 If Cows Could Talk: An Overview of Advances
in St. Croix's Senepol Cattle Industry
31 Five Lives Evolve
Striving for Success
The Workforce Training Edge
The Year in Review
U39 VI: Blanketing the Community,
2 UVI Helping Children
Youth and Families at Risk
< Presidents Message
3 Alumni News
5 UVI Trustees
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A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.
The College of the Virgin Islands took its first steps toward academic excellence some 41
years ago. In the years since, the University of the Virgin Islands' commitment to providing
superior academic instruction, quality research, as well as services the local community
can use has proved equally determined.
In this edition of UVI Magazine I invite you to discover the various programs that
demonstrate that the University has become a bona fide community partner. Collaboration
and cooperation are what make all of the University's relationships in the community work.
UVI's model farm on St. Croix, Upward Bound programs on both islands, Small Business
Development Center and Workforce Development Training Institute, are just a few of the
many ways UVI has become engaged with the community and emerged as a vital
New in this edition of UVI Magazine is the "Year In Review" section, which highlights
local and national events that have brought the University of the Virgin Islands much
deserved 1....2 iiH,,,
So much of what UVI accomplishes is done without a lot of fanfare. What you will find
contained in these pages are the success stories -the opportunities that UVI has provided
for individuals to excel, for businesses to get started and for research to be conducted that
has the capacity to change all of our lives for the better.
Students, our first priority, are prominently featured within these pages. This issue also
recognizes recent UVI retirees, alumni and members of the Board of Trustees, whose names,
faces and reputations have become synonymous with the positive image the institution
enjoys in the territory and beyond.
Please join me in recognizing the wealth of community engagement opportunities that
exist at the University of the Virgin Islands and in 1, I ii UVI's truly unique
Patrice K. Johnson
Editor in Chief
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
The University of the Virgin Islands
has embarked on an exciting journey.
The University of the Virgin Islands has
embarked on an exciting journey. Founded
41 years ago as the sole provider of higher
education in the U.S. Virgin Islands, UVI has
become so much more.
In a relatively short time, what was the
College of the Virgin Islands has progressed
to a University with the capacity to be the
leading purveyor of intellectual capital in
the region. This transformation has been
calculated and strategic.
High quality academics, innovative
research and dedicated public service
remain the institution's core mission.
However, as we advance into an era charac
terized by global access to information, the
community UVI serves is changing from a
community that is local and familiar to one
that is also distant and to some extent
undiscovered. This nexus creates many
unique opportunities and challenges to help
shape the futures of thousands more lives.
It is my distinct pleasure and honor to serve
as UVI's fourth president at this important
time in our history. With the University's
five-year Strategic Plan as our guide, I look
forward to developing new and innovative
collaborations with community partners,
whose social and economic contributions
are enhancing the quality of life in the
Virgin Islands and beyond.
This issue of UVI Magazine showcases
many exciting ways in which UVI is
.'..I1.. liiI with the people of our com
munity and serving as a catalyst for positive
All of our stories demonstrate how
education can bring forth the best in people.
Please join me in l.l II i iii these
accomplishments as we continue this
remarkable journey toward a future of
partnerships, success and growth for the
University and the Virgin Islands.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
LaVerne E. Ragster
at core of UVI Model Farm
1, .1h i ,, I .,h
[,1h e ,i.'3uiri e arid i.::t, :urrie: tt i ti.ai a ru run i rr:.pe,:[ fre":.hlyv -
pril.: "el tq abla :. r Ir i ti e r :nc e-i i.3armr 1 .:1r I.. Cr (r .i. ..ampu'I.
D ressed in long pants, boots and a wide-brimmed straw hat to
shield him from the midday sun, UVI Model Farm Manager
Michael McGuire bends to examine a delicate green shoot rising
from the edge of a of freshly planted field. "I've been waiting for this to
come up," McGuire says, looking triumphant.
As the person responsible for the five-acre farm's daily operation and
ultimately -its role as an example of the profitability of small-scale
integrated farming, McGuire thrives on nature's small miracles. Helping
McGuire run the farm is Chief of Operations Victor Almodovar and Chief
Horticulturist Jacob Burnett, two men with many years of farming
The farm spans the low-lying land from East Airport Road to the border
of the University campus and appears as innocuous as any other farm on
St. Croix. Yet unlike other farms, its components include a one-acre basin
for catching rain, seven swimming pool-size fiberglass tanks for raising
tilapia and an irrigation pond measuring 12 feet deep. The rest of its gentle
green expanse is occupied by two acres of crops, including cucumbers,
tomatoes and peppers.
The University's model farm project began in August 2001, funded by
roughly half of a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In addition to its three full-time staff members, the farm is overseen by a
collection of 16 experts from the UVI Agricultural Experiment Station, the
UVI Water Resources Research Institute, the UVI Cooperative Extension
Service and the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture. Additional input
comes from agricultural industry experts in Puerto Rico and Guam, a U.S.
territory in the Pacific where a similar model farm project is being funded
by the other half of the USDA grant.
Initially, experts planned for the UVI farm to begin grossing $100,000 by
the end of its second year, but material and staffing problems have caused
delays that make late 2003 a more realistic goal, says UVI Agricultural
Experiment Station Director Dr. James Rakocy The farm's main earning
potential is in its fish tanks, which at the beginning of 2003 were still
mostly in pieces on the ground because of problems getting electricity to
the site, which should be up and running by September. The tanks are
projected to produce 3,000 pounds of fish every month, which at the rate of
about $2.50 a pound will net the farm $7,500 a month -or $90,000 a year.
"We really need to get those fish in because that's the big money maker,"
Rakocy said in February. Tilapia are a freshwater fish with white, flaky flesh
whose mild taste has become very popular on the mainland, said Rakocy, a
member of the board of directors of the American Tilapia Association. And
given that 80 percent of the fish consumed on St. Croix is imported, Rakocy
says the University's tilapia should be a welcome addition to the local
market. "There is plenty of room for more fish on St. Croix."
At the heart of the farm is the principle of a "balanced ecosystem,
which formed the basis of "old time" agriculture before new large-scale,
monoculture farms with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides came along,
Rakocy says. "That type of agriculture has not proved to be sustainable
because of the pollution it causes."
The ecosystem is driven mostly by the rainwater catchment basins
and the fish tanks, the source of valuable water and nutrient-rich sludge
to irrigate and fertilize the crops.
"The idea is to use the output of one component for the input of
another," says McGuire, going on to explain that the model farm hopes to
introduce new, profitable agricultural technology to the farming industry.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Rakocy notes that while St. Croix's farms are for the most part small-scale
operations, they have the potential to be larger and more profitable with
the right techniques. "One of the reasons there isn't much large farming
here is that I don't think the young people see agriculture as a viable
career," Rakocy says. "What we want to do is scale farms up to a size
that will enable people to have a greater income."
Like any kind of business venture, however, start-up capital is hard to
come by. Rakocy says he's hopeful that the model farm will prove success
ful enough to motivate local farmers trying to expand their operations to
include more integrated styles of farming. "If we could develop these
farms and show profitability, then farmers could take that information
to the bank," Rakocy says.
As it stands now, local farmers produce bumper crops i,. I ill I .
flooding the local market with one kind of crop. With that in mind, the
model farm emphasizes the principle of "crop rotation," which promotes
profitability and productivity, Rakocy says. Rather than flooding the local
market with a single crop, then having nothing to sell for awhile, local
farmers can maintain a steady income by staggering harvests close enough
to ensure they will nearly always have. -i i,, I il i to sell. Likewise, island
grocers can benefit from a steady supply of produce and consumers can
benefit from the satisfaction of buying local produce. According to local
agricultural industry estimates, St. Croix grocers spend $34 million a year
iI 1. l i ii, fresh fruits and vegetables, a cost that could be avoided with a
more reliable local supply of produce. Already, St. Croix supermarkets and
produce wholesalers are .. ii ilug from the model farm, said McGuire, who
on a recent morning delivered 220 pounds of cucumbers. The income, he
says, goes back into the farm.
The model farm's principle of crop rotation
also helps the land maintain productivity.
To emphasize his point, McGuire pointed to
a patch of land that to the untrained eye
appeared nothing more than an overgrown
tangle of weeds. The weeds, however, were
actually a "cover crop" of mucuna, planted
to control weeds, encourage soil fertility and
prevent erosion. A legume called "lab lab"
is a similar crop used on the model farm
to build fertile soil. Rakocy says that at any
given time one acre of the farm is left fallow,
or empty, enabling its soil to regenerate.
b.u Another clever tactic to encourage 1, 111,.
S abundant crops is the creation of windbreaks
at the edge of the farm's fields. By 1 li l
rows of "strong, hulky" bananas and
plantains, McGuire says he plans to protect
crops from drying winds and reduce the
proliferation of pests. One natural enemy of
many common pests such as the whitefly is a
tiny wasp that has a tough time doing its job
in the strong breeze that sweeps the fields.
"If you want them to help you, then you've
got to help them," McGuire says.
The daily war against pests is familiar to
generations of farmers. As McGuire conducted
a tour of the farm, he pointed out common
pests such as aphids and worms. Bending
r down to inspect the fragrant leaves of a
tomato plant, he identified juvenile stink
bug, which renders tomatoes unmarketable by causing cosmetic damage
and which so far has proved impervious to the biological pesticides the
model farm uses.
McGuire and the other agricultural minds behind the model farm believe
technological innovations based on biology are the key to farming's future.
In the early 1900s, biological methods tied to the theory of a balanced eco
system were used widely on St. Croix to maximize soil productivity. But then
came the era of scientific agriculture, which ushered in the chlorinated
hydrocarbon-based pesticides such as DDT that over time revealed them
selves as the environmental killers profiled in Rachel Carson's landmark
book, "Silent Spring."
"More and more farmers and researchers are focusing now on zero
tillage and legume based agriculture," says McGuire, explaining "zero
tillage" as a farming technique that eliminates plowing, which is especially
important in the tropics where intense rainfall can cause bare soil to erode.
Maintaining adequate manpower has presented another challenge for the
model farm. A typical intensive vegetable farm on the mainland requires at
least three people per acre for optimum output, yet the five acre UVI model
farm is ii,' ,"i ii g to get by on a total of three people, which is why the
small signs of success such as the appearance of small green shoots
come as such victories to McGuire and the rest of the farm staff.
The very fact that nature is doing its job points to the future success
of the model farm, which, Rakocy says, will begin making tours and
educational material available later this year. -
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Dr. Patric 6i -i H a s nts sh a l i
hat does campus beautification have
to do with a public speaking class?
For Merle DeFreitas a campus
beautification project meant learning the art
of public speaking and giving valuable
information to a live audience other than her
classmates. DeFreitas was one of the students
who participated in a University of the Virgin
Islands COM 102 Humanities course, taught
on UVI's St. Thomas campus last semester by
Dr. Patricia Harkins-Pierre.
Students in Dr. Harkins-Pierre's public
speaking class were engaged in service learn
ing projects that involved them in various
community services as part of the curriculum.
In 2002, UVI received a $20,000 grant from
the Corporation for National Service through
the Campus Compact National Center for
Community Colleges for implementation of
the Service Learning Project. Several
UVI professors have been ii i i""- ii ii service
learning into their curriculum even before
grants provided participation incentives.
As part of Dr. Harkins-Pierre's class, DeFreitas
was required to make a presentation to middle
school-age students on sunflowers and the
benefit they would provide to the campus.
"We had to put out the information in a way
that the audience would want to listen,"
DeFreitas says. The students were graded on
their presentations and evaluated on eye
contact, body language and posture.
Dr. Harkins-Pierre, who has incorporated
service learning into several of her classes,
sees it as a win-win situation. "The students
benefit so much from it and I see how much
it benefits the' -,iiiiiiili ." she says. She has
also paired her students with agencies like
the St. Thomas Chapter of the American Red
Cross and the Enid Baa Library.
Dr. Harkins-Pierre has been using some
forms of service learning in her classroom since
1995, establishing a relationship with Upward
Bound, UVI's college preparatory program for
high school students. At that time her COM
101 and 102 Humanities students served as
mentors for Upward Bound students, held
workshops and participated in career night.
During the summer of 2002, Dr. Harkins
Pierre attended the Campus Compact 11th
Annual National Conference in California,
where she learned structured methods of
ii ""i i' i iiii service learning into the
academic curriculum. Dr. Harkins-Pierre
has been invited back to be a workshop
presenter this year.
Judith Rogers, library manager at the
Melvin Evans Library on the St. Croix campus,
co-authored the UVI grant proposal with
Communications Professor Lucia DiMeo.
Nursing Professor Janzie Allmacher says
even before the grant, service learning provided
her students with a perfect opportunity to
employ their skills with people who were not
sick. Eleven of her students on the St. Croix
campus participated in the "V.I. Care Force
Health Fair" providing blood pressure, blood
sugar, foot screenings, flu shots and patient
education to about 100 people at the Aldersville
Senior Center. Members of UVI's Student Nursing
Association participated in the 2003 U.S. Virgin
Islands Agriculture Fair on St. Croix, serving
more than 200 people over a two-day period.
Marie Hermann's "Principles of Marketing"
course provided a different kind of preventative
care. The 1,, i li gi students selected local
businesses that needed 1,, I111 ii I assistance,
researched the business' 111 11 ligi situation,
came up with the problem and formulated a
recommendation. Students had the option of
., 1. liig a non-profit or for profit business.
The 41 students were divided into 10 groups,
each studying a particular business and
comparing it to its biggest competitor.
The students were graded on a submitted
report on their research and recommendations,
and an actual in-class presentation. The
service learning portion of the course made
up 20 percent of the students' final grade.
Willa Fils, a junior business administration
major, says working with bona fide businesses
gave her a real sense of the ij,, 11 ii i
challenges business owners are faced with.
"Looking at where they went wrong in
their business we now know how to come
up with an effective 1j,, Ii i i plan for any
business," Fils says. She noted that along with
learning from the research conducted with her
group, she also learned from the other groups'
presentations. Fils said that she felt good in the
end, being able to provide a necessary service
to a local business.
Hermann also was ii .'I"'i i'i l service
learning into her curriculum before UVI
received a grant, for 10 years to be exact.
According to Hermann's service learning report,
most students rated their experience as excellent
or good. In her evening class, i i-ig i of non
traditional, working-class students, they
indicated that the course increased their desire
to stay in college or complete a degree, improved
their self confidence and provided them with a
sense of personal achievement.
Rogers said that because service learning is
being embraced by UVI students and faculty, the
University must now expand its service learning
offerings, encouraging even more faculty to get
involved. A program like this must be sustained,
she said. "
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
By Nanyamka Farrelly
Teammates Jendai Richards and Carey Martin. Other sports programs
at UVI are: track and field, cross country, volleyball, basketball, tennis
While colleges and universities across the
nation are cutting mens sports programs
like tennis, the University of the Virgin
Islands tennis team thrives. The team has an
impressive winning record, yet few know of the
The UVI women's tennis team won the 2002
Organization of Inter University Sports (ODI)
League Tennis Championship and the men's
tennis team won second place in that same
championship held November 7-9 in Puerto
Rico. The women's team made a sweep, with
Jendai Richards taking the tournament's most
valuable player title, Richards and Carey Martin
taking the gold medal in the doubles and the
entire team,' ,, i i i of Richards, Martin and
Hanna Jacobs, winning the gold medal-the ODI
League tournament title.
"That's the best that we could have really
done," said Richards, a freshman who has
been playing tennis since the age of four.
The men's team also did well, with Terrance
Jacobs winning a silver medal in number one
singles. Jacobs and George Southwell went on
to win gold medals in the doubles.
"It was a hard fought victory," said Head
Coach Bruce Wray. UVI won overall with a score
of 75, just two points more than second-place
winners University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla.
The teams have done well in ODI League
tournaments in past years, Wray said, noting
the women's team's 2001 ODI tournament title.
"We've been blessed by having pretty good
players to compete in ODI," Wray said, calling
the current team one of the best.
Richards said she was surprised to win the
MVP title. Richards, who also plays on UVI's
women's volleyball team, said that her
performance at the tournament was her first
competitive match for a few months. She was
equally surprised at winning the gold doubles
with Martin, since they had only practiced
1.y I1. I once.
"In tennis you need to know exactly what
your partner would do," Richards said of playing
doubles. She said in the doubles tournament she
and Martin had to be prepared for anything.
Terrance Jacobs, who has been a member of
the men's team for three years, said UVI has had
top notch tennis teams over the past few years.
He'd like to see UVI compete outside of the ODI
League. Players might become more
competitive, Jacobs says, if they're exposed to
Richards echoed Jacobs' sentiments,
suggesting that UVI create its own tournament
to compete with teams from around the nation.
"We wish that there was a way that our teams
would get more tennis matches," said UVI's
Athletic Director Peter Sauer, 'i ,,' iini iIig the
team for its record. Tennis has been cut from the
programs of some colleges and budgets have
been cut from others.
The cuts in tennis programs and funds
are largely due to the newly enforced Title
IX, which refers to Title IX of the Education
Amendment Act of 1972. Title IX prohibits
gender discrimination in education programs
that receive federal funding, including athletic
programs. Title IX, as it relates to athletics,
mandates that males and females be provided
with equal opportunities to participate in sports,
receive equal treatment and receive scholarships
proportional to their participation.
Sauer says UVI provides equal athletic
program opportunities to male and female
students, i ... iiig Title IX requirements. UVI,
Sauer says, has been used as a model for other
schools. But UVI's tennis teams feel threatened
by the ODI League, which wants to cut the
sport from its program. UVI has been an
advocate for keeping tennis in the ODI League.
Although the ODI League Tournament is
the only one available to UVI tennis players,
intramural matches are organized locally to
give the team other opportunities to play. Wray
also recommends UVI players for participation
in local tournaments. Occasionally players
train with traveling teams.
The hardest part of coaching the team,
Wray says, is building a new team each year.
Wray begins recruiting in September, prepares
players for the ODI League Tournament
in November and concludes with interscholastic
games in March and intramurals in April.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
I ,Ii,,,,,,, I Ii
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that exhibit higher disease resistance, yield and quality, thereby maximizing worldwide
harvests of tropical plant species.
Opponents of genetic engineering take offense at the alteration of a plant's natural state,
but Zimmerman noted that without biotechnology, the tomatoes in supermarket produce
aisles would be no larger than marbles, many types of fruit would be small and tart and
people would be less enticed to eat them.
"Very few of the plants we consume are as they were in the wild," Zimmerman said.
"They have been selected over generations by humans for flavor, quality and yield. If
you take the true sense of what biotechnology is, you are using an organism to produce
a product or run a process, just as yeast is used in bread and fermentation or certain
wheats are used in pasta and flour."
Pi, -, 1I11 researchers are focusing on the production of cassava, papaya and sweet potato,
paying special attention to disease resistance, plant quality, protein content and caliche soil
tolerance. The program consists of Zimmerman, research analysts Brian Daly and Jacqueline
Kowalski, and field staff members Willie Ventura and Ruben Melendez.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Now in its 11th year, the Biotechnology
Program has grown from a room with nothing
more than two telephones on the floor to a
research lab lined with high-tech equipment
and a light and temperature-controlled growth
room. The program has forged partnerships
with numerous other research centers and put
the University on the map for its groundbreaking
work with tropical plants. Adding to its credit is
the distinction of being the only program of its
kind in the Caribbean with three permits from
the United States government to grow genetically
enhanced tropical plants.
THE PERFECT PAPAYA
For the past seven years, Dr. Zimmerman
also known around campus as "Dr. Z" has
worked to develop a papaya that can fend off
the deadly Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV), a
disease that slowly kills worldwide papaya crops.
Plants inflicted with the virus exhibit telltale
yellow-tinged, deformed leaves. An extreme
example of the virus' destruction is in Jamaica,
where Dr. Zimmerman said it has nearly wiped
out the papaya export industry. Even those crops
that remain have been forced to retreat to
isolated, mountainous rural areas where farmers
hope the virus will not find them. So far, several
varieties that bear fruit within three feet of the
ground and exhibit PRSV tolerance have
emerged from UVI's research, but none have
yet to exhibit total resistance.
Papayas are native to Central and South
America. They range in hue from reddish-purple
to green and their sweet, flavorful insides can be
yellow, orange, pink or red. Dr. Zimmerman's
research is focused on the evaluation and
development of varieties that weigh two to five
"Very few of the
plants we consume
are as they
were in the wild,"
pounds and deteriorate particularly fast in the
face of PRSV. Like many research projects at
UVI, the PRSV resistance project is a part of a
collaboration and Dr. Zimmerman is trading
information with scientists from Puerto Rico,
Florida, New York and Hawaii.
Most of the papaya trees tended by Dr.
Zimmerman and his staff yield ripe fruit
within nine months of being planted, making
it easy for them to grow upwards of 400 trees a
year. Through controlled breeding and careful
observation in the greenhouse and fields at
UVI, transgenic ....!ii,-. are being bred to
resist PRSV and earlier this year the staff was
into the third generation of genetically enhanced
plants. Yet given the lengthy timeline leading
to the approval of most biotech products, Dr.
Zimmerman is not I Ii. il,' ,li g a public offering
of the perfect papaya for at least five years.
To Dr. Zimmerman, the papaya's year round
production, sweet taste and nutritional content
make it an exceptional fruit. "I think it might
have been in the Garden of Eden," he says, in
all seriousness. "They say it was an apple but
I think it was a papaya." "
I I I, I II l, l
Tricia Wharton Hendrickson
Tricia Wharton Hendrickson
he number of African American students
receiving doctorate degrees in science and
engineering at U.S. colleges and universities
has improved slightly from 3.5 percent of all
students in 1998 to 4.3 percent in 2001, according
to a survey by the National Science Foundation.
That increase, however small, is encouraging to
people who are working hard to '."'. .. 11i i ranks of
minorities in the physical and behavioral sciences.
"I know we have a number of students from the
University of the Virgin Islands in those numbers,"
says Dr. Teresa Turner, professor of Science and
Mathematics at UVI. Turner is a co-director of
UVI's Emerging Caribbean Scientists Program.
The Emerging Caribbean Scientists Program is
a compilation of various grant programs at UVI
that encourage students to pursue a Ph.D. in the
sciences by engaging them in research activities
early in their academic careers, says Dr. Camille
McKayle, co-director of the program Those grant
programs include Minority Access to Research
Careers and Minority Biomedical Research Support,
",.I i ,, l. d by the National Institutes of Health.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Undergraduate Program, Our Ocean, and the
Computer Science, Engineering and Math Scholars
Program are funded by the National Science
Since each program has a similar goal, the
University merged them under the umbrella
Emerging Caribbean Scientists Program to allow
for better coordination. Students recruited into the
program receive tuition scholarships and monthly
stipends earned for their work on research projects,
according to McKayle.
"We also make them aware of internship and
research opportunities in the sciences," McKayle
Under the tutelage of UVI professors, students
engage in hands-on science research and data
11 ,11, I ii They also learn how to analyze and
present their findings in professional forums. The
program has helped UVI graduates get accepted to
Ph.D. science pi "'g' iIi i i1.- University of
Maryland, Vanderbilt University, the University
of California -San Diego, Boston University, the
University of Michigan and Purdue University.
K'wasi Barnes, a 2000 graduate of UVI, is in
the third year of a Ph.D. program in biological
oceanography at the University of South Florida.
Barnes spends most of his days in the University's
Coral Reef Indicators Lab studying the DNA of
organisms that live on coral reefs.
As a UVI undergraduate and MARC program
participant, Barnes worked in the Marine Science
Center -i 1. i. 'in ig research under the guidance
of Professor James Battey.
"The lab skills I learned working with Professor
Battey at UVI have definitely carried over to where
I am now. We use a lot of the same techniques
here," says Barnes, who graduated from UVI with a
double major in marine biology and mathematics.
Barnes also had the opportunity to participate
in summer internships and fellowships across the
"I did summer internships at the Georgia
Institute of Technology and at the University of
California -San Diego. I also did a six-month
internship at Western Washington University, where
I had the opportunity to study coral reefs," says the
St. Croix native who plans to work as a university
For Triscia Wharton Hendrickson, the assistance
she received through the Emerging Caribbean
Scientists program helped pave the way for her
doctorate work at Emory University.
"It made n ir ligil l to apply for certain gradu
ate fellowships. Having my own funding during
graduate school allowed me the freedom to attend
a number of scientific 1 .. iii 11. including one in
Edinburgh, Scotland where I met Nobel Laureate
Sir Paul Nurse," Hendrickson says. Hendrickson,
who completed her Ph.D. work at Emory in 2001,
says, "I'd like a tenure track position at a college
where I can interact with students and introduce
them to research."
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Students in the Emerging Caribbean Scientists
Program are also encouraged to pursue careers in
behavioral sciences, including psychology, through
the NIH programs, McKayle says.
P"' I I I 1! i ii I Tamisha Ottley is working
her way toward a Ph.D. in clinical psychology after
her i v 1, I,,ii i,,i f, UVI in May 2003.
"I want to own a 11 1. i. ..If. I inig counseling in
domestic violence, child abuse, rape and how that
affects individuals and the family," says Ottley, who
has a double major in psychology and speech,
communication and theater.
As part of the MARC program, Ottley receives
a monthly stipend to work with Professor Agatha
Nelson on a research project entitled, "The
Socialization and Risk Perception Project."
"The project is in response to the high rate of
teen pregnancy and drug use," Ottley explains.
"We use focus groups to survey adolescents on
what they perceive as risky behaviors, then
compare that data to what parents think."
Ottley also did a research internship at Howard
University in Washington, D.C. where she surveyed
students on "ethnic identities and expectations for
"One of the good 1i%-p. i1.-Iii the program
is that I not only get to do research, but I've also
learned how to write up the presentation and
present the findings before groups of scientists,"
In November 2002, Ottley presented the find
ings from her research at Howard University to
the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for
Minority Students in New Orleans. Ottley has
since applied to graduate clinical psychology
programs at Howard University and at the
Virginia Commonwealth University.
"I didn't dare to dream about a Ph.D. as a
freshman, it was too intimidating," says Ottley.
"Things I ,,. i iiiili1 i il.iii i!onow a reality
because of my work in this program." M
What's in a signature?
A signature is a symbol of
identity, of distinction and of
integrity. Theodore Tunick
used his signature as a seal
signifying personal dedication
to the Virgin Islands, its people
and the insurance profession.
41 years later, his signature
continues the tradition.
The mark of quality.
Theodore Tunick & Company Serving Virgin Islands Insurance Needs for 41 Years.
THE TUNICK BUILDING / 1336 Beltjen Road / Suite 300 / St. Thomas, USVI 00802 / PH 340-776-7000 / FX 340-776-5765
Fr m It _f
From top left to right: Jinne Richards, Vicky Ann Samuel. From bottom left to right: Nicole Hanley, DeNita Lima.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
he four UVI juniors who will attend
Boston University as participants in the
Early Medical School Selection Program
this year have one common trait -an
unwavering will to succeed. Each has her
own definite ideas about the world of medicine
soon to be at her fin,, Ilil.
A scholarly quartet of 20-year-olds -three
Charlotte Amalie High School graduates and
one from Good Hope School on St. Croix
will leave UVI's St. Thomas campus this year
for their second six-week summer session on
the Boston University Medical School campus.
They will also complete their senior year in
Boston, although they will return to UVI to
graduate with their class.
The Boston University School of Medicine sits
at the hub of a modern urban academic health
center that includes Boston Medical Center, two
Veterans Administration hospitals, two graduate
schools, BioSquare and a growing number of
biotechnology firms. With its clear leadership in
clinical medical research, the school steadfastly
pursues its mission to continue as a model
urban medical center.
UVI is one of about 15 historically black
universities selected to participate in Boston
University's highly competitive program,
which was developed to increase the minority
DeNita Lima says she has almost always
known she wanted to be a doctor. "I had that
interest from the time I was very small. My
,II Ilf ilfii I had diabetes and I was surrounded
by doctors helping him. I came to appreciate
that profession. I was always interested in
science, but that exposure so young helped
gear my ideas."
Having spent last summer in Boston, Lima
and the other students are no longer greenhorns.
Admission to the 1"1" i i.i, i ,.. school was fraught
with numerous interviews and testing. After
having passed their initial interviews at UVI
with Boston University's Dr. Kenneth Edelin,
Lima and the others went to Boston. "(Edelin)
determines if you are strong enough, if you are
a good candidate for the school," Lima says.
"If you pass that, you are invited to Boston,
where you meet about 40 students from some
other schools. You talk and you bond, you're
all going through the same thing."
"Most of the time, it's doctors interviewing
you; they really try to get inside your head,"
Lima says lightly, but with obvious relief at
having passed muster.
The recipient of scholarships including the
Jane E. Tuitt scholarship, Lima has not decided
what field she will specialize in. "I change my
mind every other week -one week it's pediatrics
and the next maybe surgery." Will she come
back to the Virgin Islands to practice? "Oh,
that's too far away" Lima says.
Vicky Ann Samuel is certain. She knows
exactly what she will practice -radiology
and where she will practice it -St. Thomas.
"Of course, I'll come back to St. Thomas," she
says, mildly puzzled at the question. Echoing
Lima's determination, Samuel says of her
decision to pursue medicine: "Once you really
want to do it, you can. Your mind is set."
Samuel's inspiration was kindled when
she served as a candy striper at Roy Lester
Schneider Hospital while in junior high school.
"I loved talking to the patients, I enjoyed
helping them, and I realized that this was
what I wanted to do." She graduated from
candy striping to lab work in high school.
When Samuel enrolled at UVI she wasn't
aware of the Boston program. "As soon as I
heard about it, I applied," she says. Samuel is
fascinated by the growing field of radiology.
"There's oncology, laser surgery, sonograms,
mammograms -all new ways to deal with
cancer. I'll specialize in oncology," she says.
"When former Gov. (Roy L.) Schneider spoke
about the cancer center at the hospital, he
said we'd be needing oncologists. We still
Samuel doesn't have time for outside
activities. In fact, all of the young women
expressed surprise at being asked. Samuel is
looking forward to another summer in Boston.
"We get to talk to the doctors and we get good
insights," she says, "and the summer bio
chemistry course is on the medical school level."
Nicole Hanley has a unique perception of her
role as a doctor -in her case, an ophthal
mologist. "I see a doctor as a detective," Hanley
says. "You have to look at a patient's chart and
listen to what they're telling you -and what
they're not telling you -and figure out how to
help this person."
Like her classmates, Hanley decided early on
what her path would be. "At one point in high
school, I had minor eye surgery, and I think
that's when I found medicine so interesting,"
she says. "The minute stuff in the eye, it's so
complicated; I think that's what attracts me to
the eye." The recipient of a National Institutes
of Health Research in Science and Engineering
(RISE) scholarship, Hanley served as a tutor for
a biology course one semester and also was a
She says her eyes were really opened when she
worked in the maternal child health care clinic
at Schneider Hospital one summer, where she
didn't really get to interact with the doctors.
"People would ask me why I didn't want to be
a nurse," she says. Allowing for the importance
of nursing, Hanley says, "I realized I wanted
to be put in charge."
Hanley says the prospect of returning to
practice in the Virgin Islands is a big decision
that's far off. "I'm really undecided now," she
says. "I know '.1liil .ii ll....i i- .. are needed
here, and eventually I'll come home, but I'll
have to look at the opportunities. That's just
too far away now.
Though not in her chosen field, last summer
Hanley was assigned to "shadow" a Boston
gynecologist. Mornings were spent in the clinic,
but during the afternoons Hanley was paired
with another doctor and was able to be present
in the delivery room and post-partum areas.
"I even got to go into the 'I"' i ,iw room
to see a C-section (Caesarean) and vaginal
deliveries, too," Hanley says.
And that is right where Jinne Richards
wants to be. The only Crucian in the bunch,
Richards knows exactly what she wants to
do. "I want to deliver babies," she says, "I
want to be a gynecologist. You have to be
sure what you want to do. You would hate to
get to fourth year in med school, and discover
you'd not made the right choice."
Richards says she came by her desire early,
as medicine runs in her family. "My father
and my brother are dentists, and after interning
summers with my father, I knew that I wasn't
interested in that."
While iii. Inlini; Good Hope School, Richards
volunteered at the Queen Louise Home for
Children, an orphanage. "They needed people
to care for the babies, people who would play
with them and give them some attention," she
says. She found the experience painful, because
many of the infants were "crack" babies, born
to addicted mothers.
Richards' compassion for the newborn has a
poignant, personal aspect. "I had a sister who
was stillborn," she says, "and I felt that if the
gynecologist had paid more attention, my sister
might still be alive. I want to prevent as many
stillborns as I can."
Richards enrolled at UVI specifically because
of the Boston program, and, like her classmates,
has survived the rigorous interview process. "I
had interviews, and more interviews before they
finally got about 20 of us and narrowed it
Richards is sure that after a demanding next
nine or 10 years she will "eventually move back
home to practice."
This summer Lima, Samuel, Hanley and
Richards will be immersed in summer courses.
They will also study for the Medical College
Admissions Test, better known as the "M-CAT."
Although they've been told not to stress about
the test, Lima says, "I really want to do well."
"The M-CATs can be complicated," Hanley
says, "but they don't look at those scores to
decide if you'll get into medical school; they
are more to determine your 1. n1i11 "I
If that's so, these young women should
do just fine. "
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Caribbean Sea ByMollyMorrs
UVI student Leukemia Mounce (left) stands in front
of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) used to.
probe the submarine volcano near Grenada ,
called Kick 'em Jenny. The other members
of the Kick 'em Jenny exploration. March
2003 are: eift to riqht, Celeste Mosher
lUVi '02.; NOAA's chief scientLs't'ouq
Wilson; Lincoln Critchlyj.VI 02, and Kevin
Brown. UVI Senior -eJ'hnician ,uVI '02,
Top riqht: P essor Roy Watlington
VI Professor Roy Watlington is
doing what he loves best -studying
the waters that surround the earth,
in particular those that flow through the
Anegada Passage in the British Virgin Islands.
After three years as chancellor of UVI's St.
Thomas campus, Watlington, the principal
ii,., -iP ii.i and driving force behind the
Anegada Climate Tracers Study (ACTS), is
once again in pursuit of things scientific.
The data that Watlington and other ACTS
researchers compile is set off from that of
their colleagues in UVI's William P. McLean
Marine Science Center in that it focuses not
on marine biology, but on the characteristics
of the water that sustains marine life. "We
look at global climate change from an
unlikely place with potentially big payoffs."
ACTS research is exacting, even tedious in its
precise nature, but its results can be exciting
revealing age-old secrets to the earth's climate.
Climate phenomena such as La Nina, El Niio
and global warming are studied through the
infinitesimal trace substances ii,, il1 in
water samples ACTS researchers retrieve.
ACTS is conducted in conjunction with
the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), and would not be
possible without it. UVI researchers work under
the direction of NOAA Chief Scientist Douglas
Wilson. The ACTS research is conducted jointly
by NOAA and the UVI Center for Marine and
Environmental Sciences and was funded by the
U. S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Institute
of Science and Education, and in-kind contri
butions mainly from NOAA, Watlington says.
"NOAA is an essential partner in every effort
of ours," he says. "The research vessels we use
would cost $25,000 a day." UVI students conduct
NOAA research while simultaneously h ,ll', ,1,1
ACTS climate data to pay for their room, board
and, most importantly, all the scientific tools
and instruction. "They loan us instruments,"
Watlington says, "They are not allowed to give
Inside Watlington's small office in UVI's
Marine Science Center are papers, instruments,
photographs, all manner of scientific manuals,
and even a round current drifter. Reaching up
to an overhead shelf, Watlington extracts two
brightly painted Styrofoam cups, one dwarfing
the other. "This is .. ii. Iilii, we did for fun,"
Watlington says. We dropped them, along with
the samples, down to 4,000 meters and this is
what happened." The smaller cup had shrunk
under the enormous pressure to about an inch
and a quarter high, like a large thimble. "Just
imagine what that would do to a human."
Water samples are taken from down as far as
1,900 meters, about 1.2 miles, and then retracted.
"These samples are nothing more than ocean
water, of no inherent value," Watlington says,
"But they are worth $2,000 each in terms of
The samples are studied for salinity, temp
erature, dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide and
the man made gas freon. The freon samples
are analyzed at the University of Miami and
the carbon dioxide at the NOAA laboratory in
Florida. The balance of the testing is done on
UVI's St. Thomas campus.
One of the key substances ACTS researchers
look for is freon which, Watlington says, exists
in larger amounts in northern waters. By tracing
it, scientists can determine evidence of where
the water is flowing, and where it has been.
Forty-five years ago Dr. Wallace S. Broecker
devised his theory of global ocean circulation
that revealed the existence of an underwater
conveyor belt" that generally flows past the
Caribbean chain. The belt runs through the
Atlantic Ocean, enters the Indian Ocean and
the Pacific Ocean at great
depth before surfacing to
flow back to the North
in a continual flow.
A small but important
part of this global
conveyor belt passes
through the Anegada
Passage, where the
northern waters from as
far away as the Labrador
Sea empty from the
north and flow into
"Were it not for this
diversion," Watlington NOAA's newes
says, "we would be totally
out of the deep part of the loop. "The passage is
the deepest entry into the Caribbean", Watlington
says, "And it draws visiting scientists for that
reason, to say nothing of the Caribbean weather
they can enjoy at the surface.
But it's not all climate studies all the time.
ACTS has occasionally led to intriguing
discoveries including what Watlington calls a
"small contribution" to Caribbean geology, when
the NOAA and ACTS teams used some extra ship
time to conduct a sonar scan of the submarine
volcano called Kick 'em Jenny, north of Grenada
in the Lesser Antilles.
What Watlington refers to as the "serendipitous
study," took place during ACTS-2 and 3 in 1996,
when the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteoro
logical Laboratory and the University of the
Virgin Islands determined that the volcano's
summit lay 178 meters, or about 587 feet, below
the surface. This represented an 18-meter drop
from 1989 surveys. Watlington has published a
paper on the study in the 1"1" i i.i, i ,.. reference
journal, Marine Geophysical Researches.
ACTS has taken place during an eventful
period in the scheme of natural events. The study
was initiated immediately after the destructive
passages of Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn in 1995.
In spite of these and additional storms, ACTS has
proceeded on track, Watlington says, with 14
excursions to date.
UVI student researchers and Kevin Brown, a
UVI marine research specialist, took part in an
exploratory excursion to Kick 'em Jenny in mid
March of 2003 with Haraldur Sigurdsson, a
famous volcanologist, as the principal
I, ,', .li ,i,,,
Brown worked with Watlington on the
relatively small research ship RV Isla Mayaguez
and accompanied several of the expeditions
including an almost-aborted trip in 1998 when
the crew was ready, but unable, to board the RV
Seward Johnson at Fort Pierce, Florida, because
of the threat of Hurricane Georges. "It gets pretty
exciting trying to keep 10 students occupied,"
S i. ,
t large research vessel, the Ronald H. Brown
Brown allowed. Eventually they returned to St.
Thomas and again to Florida to pick up the ship
that made one of its most successful excursions.
A veteran of that trip and many others,
alumnus Barry Volson is now a second year
graduate student in oceanography at Rhode
Island University. While at UVI, Volson used his
ACTS expertise to study water quality, marine life
and the general condition of John Brewer's Bay.
Ronald Olivacce, the first ACTS student intern,
is now working in Texas for an environmental
Closer to home, UVI alumna Shenell Gordon
is a fisheries assistant in the Fish and Wildlife
Division of the V.I. Department of Planning and
Natural Resources, Celeste Mosher is a laboratory
instructor and Steve Herzleib is a research
assistant -both at UVI. UVI senior Leukemia
Mounce is employed as an aquarist at Coral
World, a marine park and undersea observatory
in St. Thomas. :*
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Ask her colleagues and they'll
tell you that Dr. LaVerne Ragster's
leadership, vision and determination
A native Virgin Islander, Dr. Ragster is humble
about becoming the fourth and first female
president of the University of the Virgin Islands.
She says she hopes other women will be
encouraged by her accomplishment.
"Being a role model is important but the
object is really to focus on what has to be done."
Albert and Agatha Ragster enrolled LaVerne,
their talkative first born, in pre-school in the
home of her maternal gl'. i ~ii .ii i. E.
Benjamin Oliver, a celebrated Virgin Islands
"I've been in school from the time I was a
year old and have never left," Dr. Ragster, the
newly installed UVI president, says. "It's been a
long time in education."
The young woman who later went on to earn
a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry
from the University of Miami, a master's degree
in biology from San Diego State University and
a Ph.D. in biology from the University of
California at San Diego, was installed as
president of the University of the Virgin Islands
on March 16, 2003, in the presence of hundreds
of dignitaries and well-wishers.
Her goal as the leader of an institution that
serves 2,500 students, employs 550 faculty and
staff, and is available to the 110,000 people of
the Virgin Islands, is to improve its services to
better serve the entire community Dr. Ragster
plans to n 11i 11-i1 11 UVI's relationships with the
private sector, the community and the
government, extend technical assistance to the
local and federal government, and oversee the
startup and fruition of UVI's Research and
Technology Park. Other things she envisions
include increasing dormitory space and training
facilities, which will be clearly outlined in a 10
year master plan that is in development.
"I see this institution being a very different
place in five years -and for the better," Dr.
Ragster says. She's very keen on the importance
of setting clear visions and goals. "Goals help
you to focus your activity," she says, and her life
is a testimony to that statement.
When she began the ninth grade, Dr. Ragster
says she knew she would be the valedictorian of
her 1969 Charlotte Amalie High School
graduating class. Her sheer determination was
even evident to her classmates.
"LaVerne was always at the head of her class,"
said her former classmate, V.I. Territorial Court
Judge Audrey L. Thomas. "Not only was she the
valedictorian, there was no doubt in our minds
that she would be the val. Hands down, we knew
LaVerne would be the val," Thomas said.
There was ..,, il II ;i special about LaVerne
Ragster, and everyone noticed it.
"She was set apart from most people in terms
of her intellect, which is really superior," said
her cousin and UVI Assistant Professor of English
Carol Henneman. "Her vision for herself was
clear at a young age.
Henneman, who grew up in the St. Thomas
neighborhood of Anna's Fancy, just a few
minutes walk away from Mahogany Estate,
where Dr. Ragster was raised, credits her cousin's
consistency as her best attribute. Henneman
admired Dr. Ragster's decision to return to the
territory after i i'il.1 l il her education.
"LaVerne could have earned a high salary
anywhere in the world," Henneman said, noting
that her cousin was a rare find -a black female
with a Ph.D. in biology, "but she chose to come
"What is very, very significant is that she is
tangible proof that the public school system in
the Virgin Islands can produce the best,"
Dr. Ragster's selection as UVI's president, while
no surprise to those who know her capabilities,
generates a proud feeling in those who watched
"It's probably one of the best things that have
happened to the Oliver family," said Henneman.
Other family greats, mainly educators, have
followed in the footsteps of their late patriarch,
E. Benjamin Oliver, for whom a St. Thomas
elementary school is named.
Both of Dr. Ragster's parents were educators
who held master's degrees. Her mother Agatha
was an elementary school science teacher and
supervisor of science for the Department of
Education. Her father Albert taught vocational
education at local high schools until he was
appointed assistant state director of vocational
and technical education. The V.I. Education
Department established the Albert Ragster
Sr. Scholarship in Vocational Education in
The Ragster household was unorthodox.
"We had an ati' i ruling childhood because my
mother let us try a lot of different things," says
Dr. Ragster, the oldest of five siblings Eva
Ragster Hans, Albert Ragster Jr., Fritzgerald
Ragster and Clarisa Ragster Wilson. At home
they raised unusual animals and conducted
experiments. As a youngster, LaVerne even
competed and was first runnerup in the St.
Thomas Carnival Prince and Princess Pageant.
When they were ready to enter high school, the
Ragster children had the option of fie iliding a
public or private high school.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
When, as a teenager, her mother offered her
the opportunity to go to France to learn to
speak French, she passed it up. Years later,
Dr. Ragster says, she understood the signific
ance of the offer.
"She never forced us. If you were ready, you
could have it. If you weren't, you missed it. The
one thing we did understand is that we needed
to try our best and that education was important.
That was very, very clear."
After her early days at her gl 1 ii ,I i ,11 i,11 I
school, LaVerne Ragster attended first grade at
Lucinda Millin's Private School. With the first,
second and third grades in one room and fourth,
fifth and sixth grades in another room, the
talkative and intrlligeiil LaVerne learned all she
could and was quickly placed with the fourth,
fifth and sixth graders.
"By the time I finished first grade, I was
not interested in second grade," Dr. Ragster
remembers. Nevertheless, she entered the
Taught how to swim by American Red Cross
instructors when she was seven years old,
LaVerne volunteered at the Red Cross as a
teenager, teaching others how to swim.
Willard John, a childhood friend and
swimming buddy, remembers when they both
taught swimming at Lindbergh Bay during the
summers and took life-saving courses until they
became certified as lifeguards.
"My recollection of her was that she was a
very persistent person," said John, an assistant
principal at the St. Croix Educational Complex
Vocational School. Dr. Ragster was one of the few
females in the life-saving courses.
"She was neck and neck with all of us, if not
better," John said. "I knew she would be very,
Her early exposure to the beaches of St.
Thomas developed into a love for the water that
grew into a career opportunity.
"I thought fish were the most graceful things
After fulfilling her vision of being the
valedictorian of her graduating class, Dr.
Ragster left the island to attend the University
of Miami. During her first three years there she
never felt homesick, but by her junior year she
longed for the islands.
"When I graduated with my bachelor's degree
I knew that I didn't know anything. I had to
continue learning, there was no question," Dr.
Ragster says. She moved to California to attend
San Diego State University, where she earned a
Master of Science degree. She stayed in
California, i Ill, i, ', the University of California,
San Diego, where she earned her Ph.D.
Yearning for the community that molded and
nurtured her, after 10 years abroad ',l, iI liI;
her education, Dr. Ragster was ready to return
"The mainland has tremendous opportunities
and conveniences, but there is i,,,,, Ilin i, about
this community that I wanted to be a part of.
A newly robed President Ragster receives the University's medallion at her inauguration on March 16, 2003.
second grade at Nisky School, in Sub Base,
which later became the Uller Muller Elementary
School. She attended seventh grade at the
Lockhart Elementary School while the Wayne
Aspinal Junior High School was being built,
and began the eighth grade at Charlotte Amalie
At CAHS she joined the band, where she
played the first chair clarinet. With the band
she traveled to St. Croix and New York. She
also competed in and won first runner up in
a Miss CAHS pageant. Her high school days
were a delicate balance of academics and
on earth and I always tried to emulate them
when I was in the water," Dr. Ragster says. She
was also an avid diver and loved plants, so
studying marine biology was an easy pick. The
choice was between marine biology and dance.
Dance became a hobby, which she still enjoys.
Her other hobbies include diving, listening to
music and reading. Soca, zouk, kaiso, salsa,
calypso Dr. Ragster likes just about all
Caribbean music. She also enjoys classical
music and jazz.
Always an avid reader, she favors fantasy,
sword and sorcery and science fiction. Frank
Herbert and Marion Zimmer Bradley are
among her favorite authors.
You can make a difference here if you try hard
enough," says Dr. Ragster, whose favorite dishes
are boiled fish and fungi. "This is one of the
most beautiful places in the world... there's
just no comparison. It just didn't make sense to
do anything else."
Dr. Ragster was hired as an assistant professor
of marine biology at CVI in 1981, when William
MacLean was head of the Science and Math
Division. "He let me know that I was being hired
instead of people who had written books and
were big, famous people," she says.
Ironically, years later, when MacLean was on
leave for several months, Dr. Ragster filled in for
him, acting as the vice president for academic
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
affairs. It was then that her colleagues realized
her leadership potential.
"At that point I began to see her as
presidential material," said St. Croix Campus
Chancellor Jennifer Jackson, who started
working at CVI around the same time as Dr.
Ragster. They became acquainted when Dr.
Ragster approached Jackson about forming a
group to tackle faculty concerns. Dr. Ragster also
led an exercise class that Jackson took. Jackson
applauds the President's well-roundedness.
"She focuses on the whole person, not only
the academics," said Jackson. "She is very
family centered and the Virgin Islands is her
Dr. Ragster advanced from an assistant
professor to senior vice president and provost
before being named president of UVI. She has
held the positions of chair of the Division of
Science and Mathematics, faculty representative
to the UVI Board of Trustees and acting vice
I run to for solace and love belong to an
amazing man," she said of Gardner. She called
Gardner, an environmental planner, "my life
partner, my best friend and husband."
Sitting behind a mahogany desk in her St.
Thomas campus office, the petite president wears
a floral shirt and slacks, gold-framed eyeglasses
and minimal makeup, if any. Her trademark
earrings, noticeable but not distracting, frame
Dr. Ragster explains that her earrings have
become a distinguishing part of her identity,
along with her handmade leather sandals. She
loves the curves and lines of the flat, wood-like,
cone-shaped earrings made from the dried fruit
of the sandbox tree (Hura crepitans), so much so
that she has been wearing them for more than
20 years and ''.11. i g them from around the
"One of the challenges I have is that I don't
fit some of the images of a CEO," Dr. Ragster
Although she has achieved much and no
doubt has much more to accomplish, Dr.
Ragster believes that the true measure of a
person is how that person treats others.
"People worry about making a difference
in the world. I think if you do the best you can
with the small things, it adds up in the end,"
She tells the story of a boy who notices several
starfish washed up on the shore at low tide. As
the boy throws each starfish back into the ocean
someone tells him that there are millions of
starfish in the ocean and tossing in those few
will not make a difference. The boy picks up
another starfish, throws it into the sea and
responds "it made a difference to that one."
That story is indicative of Dr. Ragster's
perspective on her life and her career.
"You can't do it all, but what you do makes
a difference because maybe it would not have
gotten done otherwise," she says.
(Left to right) A young LaVerne Ragster, left, with sisters Clarisa, center, and
with her husband Lloyd Gardner.
president for Research and Public Service. Since
coming aboard at UVI, she has expanded her
environmental interests in the Eastern
Caribbean, joining many ,i ,I" i Iii,,. and
holding several leadership positions in them.
"I haven't been bored since I've come home.
I've always found more things to get involved in
and there is always some new project, some new
change, ... 1,1. ilig that I want to do," Dr.
Seven years ago Dr. Ragster married her soul
mate Lloyd Gardner, who she described at her
Siii, i. ,i Iii. i as the "very special person" in her
life. "The mind I respect and enjoy engaging,
the shoulders I lean on for support and the arms
says, noting her love for color and the fact that
she owns and wears several business suits that
are not the traditional blue or black. "It's about
your own style. Everyone should have their own
style and still meet whatever the (dress)
requirements are of a particular job."
Almost a year since beginning her tenure as
president, Dr. Ragster says she is still developing
"One of the things that I've learned over the
years is that an indicator of change and growth
is discomfort," she contends. "I'm in a period of
learning and change and I'm not comfortable,
but I am excited."
Eva, as a student in the 1970s, and
Dr. Ragster considers herself fortunate to have
been born in the Virgin Islands and having had
the experiences that she has had.
"I'm a product of some of the best things of
this society," she says. "I've had many influences
from elsewhere, but my base is here. That's what
drives me i ii situations that will
similarly empower others.This has been a great
place to grow up and I would like to see it be
that for a number of other young people." -
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Business and Facilities
Services Director Peter
While a nursery, new palm trees and walking paths will welcome
students on the University of the Virgin Islands' St. Croix campus
by fall, new and reconfigured construction is booming on St. Thomas.
A journey that would have routed students all over the sprawling
St. Thomas campus, by Spring 2004 will deliver them to a "one-stop-
shop," the renovated and reconfigured Harvey Administration and
Conference Center, says Pat O'Donnell, UVI's capital projects director.
"It's a simple concept," O'Donnell says. "You follow the threads
and consolidate student life, which will help students and adminis-
tration alike. Students can register, pay bills and apply for financial
aid in one step."
The reconfigured 30,000 square foot Harvey
Center will house all administrative offices,
accounting, the offices of the provost, registrar,
financial aid and university computing, as well
as a state-of the-art teleconferencing center.
O'Donnell estimates that about 20,000 square
feet of academic space will be saved by putting
. I illi, under one roof at the reconfigured
Harvey Center. "It's a concept called 'adaptive
reuse'," he says. The term applies to taking a
building and modifying it, changing its
function, as opposed to building new facilities.
"Sometimes I've had people say, 'Why don't
you tear it down and build a new building
it's cheaper that way'," O'Donnell says.
"But it doesn't work that way."
Another building with a new face is the
Classroom Administration building, which,
in addition to classrooms and computer and
physics laboratories, houses the Science and
Mathematics Division's faculty and staff, the
Office of the Registrar, and other academic and
administrative offices. The building got a new
coat of paint, its roof repaired and a new fire
escape with an exit link to the Little Theater.
The Harvey Center has known other
incarnations. It was first a U. S. Navy barracks
during World War II, after which it became the
popular Trade-winds Hotel, in the late '50s and
'60s, before its academic career.
And that is hardly all. A centerpiece of the
capital improvements program, a handsome
new centrally located dining pavilion will
be ready this summer. In keeping with St.
Thomas campus architecture, the pavilion has
a pagoda style, tiered roof, with a spacious
many-windowed 125-seat dining area, which
O'Donnell hopes won'tjust be utilized for meals.
He envisions the area -located in the heart of
the student dorms and open from early morning
until late evening -as a i11i i g place for
The Reichhold Center for the Arts is getting a
new face and new foliage. The splotchy, flecked
performance canopy has been scraped and
refinished. Gutters have been repaired, the
vertical siding has been resealed to prevent leaks
that have plagued the area, and sections of the
roof have been replaced.
Arnold Brown, a 35-year veteran of UVI
landscaping and groundskeeping, has virtually
come out of retirement to supervise landscaping,
especially around the Reichhold Center. "I'm not
officially back at my old job," he remarked,
gazing at the lush new p.1 inlin i across from the
Reichhold Center office. "I am really a
Brown and O'Donnell take particular pride in
knowing that the Reichhold Center was able to
showcase its attractive new roof, new siding and
landscaping for Dr. LaVerne Ragster's March 16
ill III' iIl i ii. i.
Work is ongoing on the St. Thomas campus's
17 dormitories, one dorm at a time. The old
wooden louvers which allowed rain to get in,
have been replaced with glass to improve the
interior lighting and ventilation. Inside walls
are being painted a bright white, idi 11- 1, ,I.
are getting new fixtures, acrylic tile showers,
and all dorms are getting new lighting as
well as fire exits.
More than 500 light fixtures have been
reconfigured and replaced in the upper campus
academic building, and 328 windows have been
replaced with energy efficient glass. O'Donnell
said the 296 window pieces installed in the
library, combined with a revamped air
conditioning system, have reduced humidity in
the archive sensitive area from 78 to 55 percent.
A major energy conservation effort is planned
for both the St. Croix and St. Thomas campuses
Attractive sandstone information kiosks
holding maps, directions and notices of current
events -will greet visitors to both campuses this
fall. The kiosks, which will be located across
from the University's St. Croix and St. Thomas
main gates, were President Ragster's idea to
make each campus more accessible to
On St. Croix, Business and Facilities Services
Director Peter Abrahams is not faced with an
immediate building program. He devotes his
energies to more long-range projects, always
with an eye toward aesthetic as well as 1p 1'111 ili.
Melvin Evans Center on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix campus.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
One thing of immediate economic concern,
however, is the effort to keep power costs down.
"One of the big issues on the St. Croix campus
is developing innovative ways to bring down
our dependence on WAPA," Abrahams says.
"Our utility bills are upwards of $600,000
per year. We're expanding on a regular basis
nothing is getting smaller. Ten years ago
computers were not a big thing. Now we have
one, sometimes two for each professor, and
the laser printers are power hungry. We have
to find creative ways to supply the power."
Motion sensors have been installed in
classrooms, so that lights turn off when rooms
aren't used for 20 minutes. Timers for the air
conditioning units have been installed in some
of the smaller units (it would take too long for
the larger units to cool down and reheat) and
dedicated circuits have been added to all offices
to resolve grounding problems, Abrahams says.
Water is no longer a problem. "We are not
totally self sufficient," Abrahams says, but that
is the goal. "We activated an old campus well,
and we are getting 7,000 gallons a day from
that," he says
And the St. Croix campus is '' .11.' li il surface
water in parking areas, which is used in two
a campus ponds. &e installed
tilted parking so the water
drains to a corner, where it goes through tanks
with baffles to keep out the sludge," Abrahams
Nothing is more practical than Abrahams'
idea for the St. Croix campus kiosk, which he
has turned into a wellspring of water, as well
"When I heard about the kiosk, I thought it
was a perfect opportunity for energy
conservation," Abrahams says. "It's on an angle,
so it will drain into a 20,000 gallon cistern
underneath the structure. And it will have a
watershed roof. The collected water will be used
"We want to get the feel of the campus back
to the feel it had years ago," he says. "With
budget crunches, the busted pipe took priority
over trees. It's a health and safety issue, so the
first thing to go is landscaping."
Abrahams says natural disasters also have
taken their toll on campus foliage, primarily the
handsome, sensitive and expensive Puerto Rican
royal date palms that dot the entrance. "A year
ago we secured an urban forestry grant for more
palms and we located 26 in Puerto Rico and
brought them back. Now we have to monitor
Working closely with [tie UVI Looperative
Extension Service, the St. Croix campus will
develop a nursery later this summer. "We want
to promote indigenous plants," Abrahams says.
"The University has never had a nursery. We
will be growing our own trees, raising our own
shrubs and plants, and when their life cycle is
over, we can replace them. It's also a cost
And let us not forget the perimeters of the
campus. "We will have hiking, walking trails,
not just for the students, but for everybody,"
Abrahams says. "We want more light there
and more trees. It's a popular area to walk.
We will put nameplates on the trees and put
exercise stations along the way."
Abrahams says 1 llii g his department
does on the campus must meet the "three S's."
"That is safety, security and service." Lighting
is especially important since most St. Croix
classes are at night. "It's like a mini-city at
night," Abrahams says. An outside lighting
project begun last year continues. "We want
to provide a safe, healthy area for our
customers -the students." .
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
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AN OVERVIEW OF ADVANCES IN ST. CROIX'S SENEPOL CATTLE
T o gaze into the eyes of a Senepol is to experi-
ence deep, warm, long-lashed liquid wonder.
Its slow-blinking stare holds a contemplative
curiosity that can cause a person to feel a little
silly for being so "MOOOved" by a mere bovine.
But to call a Senepol a mere bovine is to
discount its lofty heritage. Bred on St. Croix
to withstand the rigors of drought and heat,
the Senepol has evolved into a breed regarded
worldwide for its adaptability, mild disposition
and tender beef.
Dr. Bob Godfrey, the assistant director of the
University's Agricultural Experiment Station and
the leader of its Animal Science Program, likes to
recount the story of a Brazilian couple who sent
him a videotape of their new Senepol herd with
the Mac Davis song "Lord, It's Hard To Be
Humble" playing in the background. Godfrey, who
has photos of Senepol adorning his office walls,
understood the humor immediately "It's hard to
be humble when you're perfect in every way," he
says, reciting the song's refrain with a smile.
These days, however, if any of the approximately
600 Senepol on St. Croix could talk, they might
say they are feeling a little unsure of their footing
in the cattle industry.
Technological advances in freezing semen have
made it easier for breeders elsewhere to build their
herds without buying cattle directly from St. Croix.
As a result, the local export market has decreased.
St. Croix cattle rancher Hans Lawaetz
has trimmed his Annaly Farms herd by
approximately 1,300 head since 1990 and
now countsjust 200 Senepol on his land. Henry
Nelthropp, the owner of Estate Granard, sold his
herd to a farm in Puerto Rico a few years ago. His
ii ,,IIf il1. i. Bromley Nelthropp, bred the first
Senepol in the early 1900s by crossing an English
Red Poll bull from Trinidad with an
N'Dama heifer from the West African
country of Senegal. "It's not that the market
isn't there, it's that the cost of production,
11,,1 li ii and transportation is so high,"
In response to the high cost of shipping
cattle by air, Enrico "Kiko" Gasperi, the co
owner and manager of Castle Nugent Farms,
has started ."' i llg cattle by boat to South
America and the U.S. mainland.
Despite the many factors that impact
the local Senepol market, one hopes that the
cattle chewing their cud '.. 1,. I 1i the wind
stiffened trees in St. Croix's pastures are not
' I ....I I i their days just yet.
For decades, local farmers have meticulously
chronicled each herd's bloodlines and production
records while UVI scientists have worked hard to
introduce research 1 1..11 iii 1g the Senepol's
superiority. Dr. James Rakocy, the director of the
University's Agricultural Experiment Station, says
UVI is at the forefront of Senepol research.
Last November, UVI hosted "Senepol -Cattle for
the New Millennium," a conference marking the
25th anniversary of the Senepol Cattle Breeders
Association, which was founded on St. Croix in
1977. The conference drew more than 60 people
to St. Croix for two days of farm tours and research
With breeders from Brazil, Colombia, Panama,
Paraguay and Venezuela making up the foreign
S,,,,, i ,,1 ii,1. Godfrey says that it became clear that
South and Central America are emerging as
the leaders in the Senepol industry. In the past
10 years more than 300 Senepol have clambered
into boats and planes, bound for regions south
of St. Croix. A paper presented by Venezuela
breeder Octavio Martinez stated that,
"...evidence of the demand (for) Senepol
genetics in Venezuela is the constant growth of
the 'national herd' plus the increase in semen
sales... as well as the behavior of the market for
(full-blooded) and purebred live animals."
Richard Browning Jr., an animal scientist
from Tennessee State University's Cooperative
Agricultural Research Program in Nashville,
presented a paper on the Senepol's resistance
to a fungus in grass that is toxic to many other
breeds. "That shows the utility of the Senepol
even outside our environment," Godfrey says.
Researchers are also using Senepol as
positive controls in studies to determine
why Holstein dairy cattle do not adapt well
to heat. "We're focusing on body temperatures,"
says Godfrey, who is -,1,n li g the study in
collaboration with researchers from North
Carolina State University and Mississippi
Senepol themselves do not make good
dairy stock, Godfrey says, because their milk
production is not as high as that of dairy stock.
And crossbreeding them with dairy stock usually
results in the dilution of each breeds' desirable
traits. The goal of crossbreeding, Godfrey
explains, is to achieve "hybrid vigor," which is a
calf's expression of traits such as fertility and
survivability that exceed those of its parents'
respective breeds. One breed with which the
Senepol finds itself in direct competition is
the Brahman, a breed native
to India that
makes up more than 90 percent of the
world's warm weather cattle. Like Senepol,
the Brahman is a striking breed, with their
humped backs, floppy ears and loose
Senepol, however, are showing their
edge by 1 1 1u i, well to winter weather
on U.S cattle farms, despite being bred
for warm weather.
In an interview with the Virgin Islands
Daily News, Lawaetz said the owners of
Deseret, the largest cattle farm in the United
States, are considering replacing their herd
in Texas with Senepol. If that happens, St.
Croix stands to reap greater i ...nii" ii as
the Senepol's birthplace.
Senepol are also expanding their
numbers through technology. Using super
ovulation and embryo transfer procedures,
Godfrey says farmers are finding a different
way of *1"" Ii i i Senepol from St. Croix to
Australia. Superovulation is a process that
involves 11 ii, i cows with hormones that
make them produce more than the normal
one egg per cycle. After a cow is bred, eight
to 20 embryos are flushed out of the uterus
and frozen for transplant at a later date.
A technological advance that came out
of reproductive research at UVI enables
local breeders to predict the fertility of bulls.
By ii i ih semen and testicular
characteristics, buyers can be assured that
they are not getting a "dud," says Godfrey
( n ,i-.I l. 1
though, nature throws breeders a wild card.
He relayed the story of a top-dollar bull who
was exported to Texas last fall to have his
semen collected at a germplasm center and
shipped to Australia, but who has so far been
impotent. The bull's infertility could be caused
by anything from food allergies to stress, injury
or fatigue and its new owners are still hoping
for a turnaround, Godfrey says.
Ultimately, breeders and researchers on
St. Croix dream of UVI having its own
germplasm center, which would enable them
to collect, store and ship semen and embryos
from local stock directly to faraway places
such as Australia. Germplasm centers, which
are common in larger markets, require liquid
nitrogen to keep semen and embryos alive in
a frozen state. Even a modest center at UVI
would cost more than $1 million, Godfrey
says, but would secure St. Croix's foothold in
the worldwide Senepol industry
Over lunch at the UVI cafeteria, Godfrey
hints at the possibility of a germplasm center
becoming part of the UVI Research and
Technology Park and says he has discussed
such a venture with a company in California
Pacific International Genetics.
But even if a germplasm center doesn't spring
up right away, Godfrey says he has no doubt the
mighty Senepol will continue dotting St. Croix's
windswept pastures and adding a pleasant aspect
to the local landscape. "They're very docile and
their color is just amazing," he says.
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Dr. Gilbert Sprauve
hen Dr. Gilbert Sprauve isn't
telling stories, playing tennis,
dreaming up this year's Carnival
persona, working on his creative new French
course, or caring for his 89-year-old mother, he
might have time to go fishing for yellowtail, a
fish he says he is "learning a little more about."
For one thing, "you have to have the right
bait," he says. Dr. Sprauve's own bait for many
years has been the inlelligenei and creativity he
has brought not only to his students at the
University of the Virgin Islands, but to the Virgin
Islands community. His annual Carnival treks,
as a single entry, are well known for their politi
cal and humorous flavor. "I see the parade route
as a stage and a chance for a little bit of theater
to get the crowd involved with me," he says.
The multilingual professor taught languages
on the St. Thomas campus for 37 years, his
longevity a testament to his remarkably
successful career. Though a 1. ,,; i I St. John
resident, he currently makes his home on St.
Thomas with his mother, Eunice Sprauve,
herself a long-time, revered St. Thomas teacher.
Dr. Sprauve's new focus is developing a
French course, Francophonie en Marche, a
concept that embraces the teachings and
language of all the French-speaking countries
in the world, and in this case, specifically
Caribbean islands where either standard
French or French Creole is spoken.
Dr. Sprauve wants to teach from the
perspective of a young Caribbean or Afro
Caribbean person, engaging students in a
dialogue about poverty and other social issues,
government and ecology. Students will learn
vocabulary during the dialogue.
"I still tell stories when I'm asked," he says.
In February, in celebration of Black History
Month, Dr. Sprauve told the tales for which he
is so well-known at the Julius Sprauve School
on St. John and Joseph Gomez and Seventh
Day Adventist schools on St. Thomas.
His enthusiasm has not waned. "I try to base
the stories on the Dutch Creole language that
used to be spoken here. I usually begin with a
few proverbs -like "cockroach got no business
in fowl house" -till they slowly guess what it
means, then I tell them the importance of
cultural experience through language, and I
might teach them a little song."
Dr. Erika Waters, professor, writer, founder
and 1 ., i; i editor of the 1pi -iioi. i.. literary
journal, The Caribbean Writer, says she is
"enjoying the differences," between her present
home in Maine and the 30 years she spent on
St. Croix, 26 of them teaching English on the
St. Croix campus.
Dr. Waters took early retirement in 2002 to
move with her family to her husband's home
area in Maine. She is still teaching English, but
with a Caribbean touch. "I introduce Caribbean
writing they otherwise would not have known
to my students here and they love it; they are
fascinated," she says.
In the almost 17 years since Dr. Waters began
The Caribbean Writer, multitudes of readers
have had the same experience, getting to know
writing that was not being published elsewhere.
The internationally respected journal published
by UVI, focuses on Caribbean writing, or writing
with a Caribbean influence.
And Dr. Waters still is active in the journal
as book review editor. She says the book reviews
were one of the most satisfying aspects of her
career. "Book reviews were not part of the
original plan, but they have proved to be very
valuable for librarians and readers of Caribbean
literature. My own feeling," she continues, "was
that we should find room, first, for books that
weren't getting publicized elsewhere, and I
think we did get exposure for many small press
books by lesser known authors. The number of
reviews has expanded each year -last year we
had more than 30."
The Caribbean Writer has succeeded in
Dr. Waters' eyes. "I wanted it to follow in the
tradition of the great Caribbean literary
magazines of the past; particularly, I had in
mind BIM from Barbados, which launched
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Dr. Erika Waters
nearly every major writer from the first
generation of Caribbean writers. When both
George Lamming and Kamau Brathwaite
wrote (in Volume 15) that they felt The
Caribbean Writer was rightfully in such
legendary company, I felt we had, in fact,
succeeded in our goal."
Dr. Chris Ramcharan's 24-year career on
the St. Croix campus is more green than
literary. His contributions to UVI, and to the
world of horticulture have taken place largely
in the laboratory and the greenhouse where
he l I i I i, i i 1i 1 himself by his expertise, his
curiosity about growing things, and his
Today he says, sadly, that he has had to
put his teaching on the back burner because
of a heart condition. But that hasn't affected
his enthusiasm for plant life and his
Dr. Ramcharan is best known for his work
with tissue cultures on papayas and bananas.
He introduced the first tissue-cultured banana
plantains into the Virgin Islands for field trials
at UVI's Research and Extension Center.
And his efforts have been internationally
rewarded. He has worked with Volunteers in
Overseas Cooperative Assistance and with
Winsock International, ,i -I i ii i.m.. funded by
the U.S. Agency for International Development.
His expertise took him from Brazil to Nepal,
where he helped fruit growers in the foothills
of the Himalaya mountain range.
A Trinidad native, Dr. Ramcharan came to
the St. Croix campus in 1978, where he started
off as a research horticulturist. In 1984 he
returned to his alma mater, the University of
Florida, and received his doctorate in
horticulture. He was promoted to research
associate professor at UVI in 1995, a position
he held until his health forced him to seek
early retirement last year.
Dr. Ramcharan will by no means abandon
the world of flora and fauna when he and
his family move to Florida later this year.
"Now I will have time to finish editing my
book," he says. Entitled, "Tropical Fruits in
the Caribbean," the book will be published in
four languages -English, Spanish, Portugese
Though many books have been written about
tropical fruit, Dr. Ramcharan says none have been
written specifically for the Caribbean and Latin
America. And how about the green world outside
his desk window? "Oh, I definitely will have a
little garden in Florida," he says with a smile.
UVI Physical Education Prof. Elridge Blake's
outlook hasn't changed much in the 28 years he
has worked at the University of the Virgin
Islands. Still teaching part-time after his
Dr. Christopher Ramcharan
retirement from full-time duties in January
2003, Blake is looking forward to the days
ahead. "I just enjoy life," the 1965 graduate of
St. Thomas's Charlotte Amalie High School says.
After 1'11 i l i, i, his bachelor of science
degree in health and physical education in 1969
at Fisk University in Nashville, Blake came home
to the Virgin Islands. In 1974, he began teaching
at the College of the Virgin Islands and in 1989
he completed a master's degree in administra
tion and supervision in education at UVI.
Known as "Coach Blake" to those on UVI's
St. Thomas campus, as well as to the Virgin
Islands ,i,,,,,,,, ii it's hard to figure outjust
which sport is this perpetual athlete's favorite.
Having served as head coach of UVI's men's
and women's varsity volleyball teams for 25
years, one would think it might be volleyball.
But Blake, who has also served as assistant
basketball coach, is quick to point out that he
loves "all sports," and that the only one he
hasn't played consistently yet is golf. He has
coached regional volleyball teams in the British
Virgin Islands and trained volleyball teams in
St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Anguilla and Curacao.
The divorced father of two is as proud of his
daughters' athletic achievements as he is of the
many student athletes he has influenced. He's
quick to say that both of his daughters played
Division I volleyball at North Carolina A&T
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
University. One was voted Player of the Year in
the 2000 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and
was Most Valuable Player in the 2000 MEAC
Blake says he's facing this next chapter of his
life filled with anticipation. "I am not going to
be inactive," he says. "Retirement for me means
activity, doing what I want. I'm not heading off
into the sunset."
Change has been the one constant in the 25
years that Juanita Woods spent as an
administrator on UVI's St. Croix campus. Her
retirement in November 2002 signaled the end
of a career marked by long workdays, work
nights and weekends. In retrospect, Woods calls
the time she spent catering to college students
a wonderful experience."
When she first came to the College of the
Virgin Islands in 1977 as a counselor and
administrative aide to Campus Director Mary
Savage, Lawrence Wanlass was president and
the St. Croix campus was a tight-knit
community characterized by close relationships.
Woods was later promoted to student
personnel officer, director of student life, dean
of students and finally, associate chancellor
of the St. Croix campus.
Throughout the administrations of four
University presidents -Drs. Wanlass, Arthur
Richards, Orville Kean and LaVerne Ragster
Woods remained committed to student concerns.
Characteristic of the early days at CVI, Woods
says she and others on staff did what needed to
be done for the good of the institution.
"I viewed students as consumers of higher
education," Woods said in a telephone interview
from her Estate Montpellier home. She wanted
students on St. Croix to receive the same services
that students on CVI's St. Thomas campus
"We didn't have anybody to do financial aid,
so I did it. We didn't have a testing officer, so
I did it," she said. Back then, administrators
didn't stand on ceremony.
In the late 1980s an accreditation mandate
by the Middle States Commission on Higher
Education required the University to offer
comparable facilities, programs and services
on each of its campuses.
Woods said that in the years between 1991
and 2001, her motivation was the development
of a full student affairs component on the St.
Croix campus, as well as the development of a
campus health center, which was completed in
2001. She says it's gratifying to know
that the St. Croix campus achieved each
of the goals that were set by the mandate.
This next phase of Woods' life represents
promise and possibility. "It's the first time that
I amjust responsible for me instead of other
people," she says. "I always put a lot into my
work and I just feel retirement represents a
sense of freedom.
For the time being, don't come calling
on Juanita Woods with career offers. She may
do some painting, and then again, maybe not.
"I'm not taking anything on professionally,"
she says. "I'm really just starting to experience
what retirement is all about."
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
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REILnEMENT PLANMINrG COLL1EsE SAiN JGS IN VEFTMENT ACCouNTs Lr INSURANCE
The Workforce Training Edge
By Karen D. Gutloff
Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino employee Miquel Ramos.
Miguel Ramos never dreamed that
answering a simple newspaper
advertisement would make such
a difference in his life. In early June 2002, he
saw an ad describing a six-week job skills
training course sponsored by the Workforce
and Economic Development Institute at the
University of the Virgin Islands.
The Institute, funded through a $300,000
grant from the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development, provides Virgin Islands
residents with job skills training in the areas
of information technology and hospitality
The 56-year old Ramos, who works as a slot
attendant and customer service aide at the
Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino on St. Croix,
saw the training as a chance to upgrade his
"In the casino you need to know how to
treat a customer," Ramos says. I thought,
maybe I can learn a little more about people
and how to perform even better on the job."
He began the training with a one-week
course on the basics of preparing resumes and
navigating employment interviews. Ramos
then attended classes in the hospitality training
program, learning the importance of customer
service and problem solving. An ex-military
officer, Ramos says the course was an eye-opener.
"Coming from the military, I can be kind of
a rough guy. The course woke me up to the fact
that I need to learn about people's feelings and
listen more to what they go through," he says.
The training also resulted in a job promotion.
"When I showed the manager at work my
certificate, he became more aware of the fact
I have .,1i,,1 Iiig useful to our section. They
gave me a promotion and a small (salary)
increase," Ramos says.
WEDI was brought under the umbrella of
UVI's Community and Personal Development
Unit. CPD Unit Director Ilene Heyward Garner
says job skills training is part of UVI's overall
mission to play a greater role in the economic
and social transformation of the Virgin Islands.
"Tourism is the biggest economic industry
on St. Thomas and we have the Research and
Technology Park coming to St. Croix soon,"
Garner explains. "We are helping to train the
workforce to be prepared to assume positions
in these industries."
She adds, "While many residents desire
four year degrees, some just need additional
skills in particular areas, or they want to make
a career switch. This program allows people
to become certified in a field without going
through a four year program."
According to CPD unit assistant Cindy
Richardson-Hunt, the initial WEDI training
session received 85 applications. Some 50
people on St. Thomas and St. Croix were select
ed to participate and 39 of those participants
successfully completed the job skills training.
Each trainee received a certificate of completion
A number of trainees who completed the
computer technology courses are taking a series
of exams to earn an International Computer
Driver's License Certificate, Garner says. "This
is an internationally recognized certificate that
says you have a level of competency in Word,
Excel, Windows and the Internet."
One of the Institute's goals is to place
participants in internships once their training
was completed, according to Richardson-Hunt.
A number of trainees were placed in internships
at Coral World, Ambassador Financial Group
Inc., and Crown Mountain Water, she says.
Felecia Prentice landed an internship as
a legal secretary to three attorneys at Smock
Law Offices, PC on St. Thomas, after '1,! li, 1,
six weeks of information technology training.
Prentice, the mother of three boys, says she
worked as a money transfer processor at Chase
Bank for six years before deciding to make a
career change by signing up for the training
program. The skills she acquired in word
processing and spreadsheets were valuable,
Prentice says. The biggest lesson she learned,
however, is how to overcome nervousness
"They told us how important eye contact
is and how to dress appropriately during
interviews," says Prentice. "Now I know I
can go for any job that I want, because
I have that skill."
Garner and her staff are preparing to launch
the Summer Institute of the International
Computer Driver's License (ICDL) program.
Participants can expect an expanded program
with offerings in financial services and other
areas later this year. The unit will also offer an
ongoing review course for the Legal Assistant
Certification Exam. Expanded programs will
include courses in business writing, customer
service, finance for non-finance managers, as
well as Microsoft certifications. *
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
An estimated 30,000 people attended
the 32nd annual Agriculture and Food
Fair of the U.S. Virgin Islands, held Feb.
15-17, 2003 on St. Croix. A blimp bearing
the UVI logo marked the spot of the dozens
of UVI exhibits and offerings at the northern
end of the fair grounds in Estate Lower Love.
Everyone at UVI shared the success of Aberra
Bulbulla, a UVI Agricultural Experiment
Station research analyst who was named
Produce Farmer of the Year. Bulbulla, who
has farmed for eight years, grows more than
30 different varieties of fruit trees and plants
on his four acre farm in Mountain Estate.
In an ii II iiig evening of pageantry,
Alba Harrigan was crowned Miss University
of the Virgin Islands on Saturday, February
15, at the Island Center on St. Croix. Harrigan,
a sophomore psychology major ii, illi,-
UVI's St. Thomas campus, also won the titles
of "Miss C.r .., .Ii i il ." "Best Ambassadorial
Presentation," "Best Talent," "Best Evening
Wear" and "Miss Intellect." The first runner
up was Demelza Lawrence. The second
runner up was Michael Lake who was also
named "Miss Photogenic." Keischa Brooks,
the third runner up, was named "Miss
Popularity. "More than 300 people
attended the ambassadorial competition.
With a brilliant display of culture and
creativity, UVI's Festival Troupe won first
place in the "Floupes less than 100"
division in the St. Croix Festival Adults
Parade. The troupe's theme, "From the
School House to the Technology Park:
Educating our Community Throughout
Time for a Golden Future," depicted early
Virgin Islands educators and transitioned
to cyberspace workers of the future. The
costumes were designed by Crucian historian
and fashion designer Wayne James. Each
segment was meticulously detailed with
accessories from the particular time period.
Photo by Dale Morton
Photo by Dale Morton
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
By Nanyamka Farrelly
Virgin Islands basketball fans received an
early Christmas present in November of 2002,
as the University of the Virgin Islands and
Basketball Travelers Inc. hosted the 2002
edition of the University of the Virgin
Islands Paradise Jam. The NCAA Division I
pre-season basketball tournament, which is
growing in stature and ]" '" 11!1 il drew six
top men's teams and an outstanding women's
division, led by the nation's number one
ranked Duke Blue Devils. Other 1 oi' i', i11
women's teams were from the University of
Arkansas, Boston College, Hampton University,
Old Dominion University, the University of
Oregon and the University of South Carolina.
P i i, i' 1 ii 11 men's teams were Brigham
Young University, St. Bonaventure University,
Virginia Tech, Kansas State University, the
University of Michigan and the University
NASA AWARENESS DAYS ROAST AND TOAST
NOVEMBER 2002 SEPTEMBER 2002
Thousands of Virgin Islands students
got the chance to see a real astronaut,
not on television, but live -at the University
of the Virgin Islands NASA Awareness Days.
The three-day event ran from Nov. 17 to
20 on UVI's St. Thomas and St. Croix
campuses. Designed to bring an awareness
of space administration to the' ,,i,,iiiiil .
NASA Awareness days featured astronaut
Stephanie Wilson and Astrophysicist Dr.
Beth Brown. Wilson and Dr. Brown are
both African-American women who have
set records in their fields.
More than 300 individuals attended the 40th
Anniversary Roast and Toast Gala in honor
of UVI President Emeritus Dr. Orville Kean
on September 28, 2002. Held at St. Thomas'
Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort, the Roast and
Toast raised more than $50,000 toward the
establishment of an endowed scholarship for
international students at UVI in Dr. Kean's honor.
Dr. Kean served 12 years as president of
UVI. His affiliation with the College of the
Virgin Islands, which later became the
University of the Virgin Islands, spans more
than 35 years. Before being appointed
President on March 17, 1990, Dr. Kean had
served UVI as a Professor of Mathematics,
Vice Chair of the Science and Mathematics
Division, Dean of Instruction, Acting Director
of the Caribbean Research Institute, Executive
Vice President and Director of the Eastern
Caribbean Center and Acting Vice President
for Academic Affairs.
Photo by Ethelbert Bedminster
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
e I ,
UVI's St. Croix campus hosted a Caribbean
Luau on Sunday, September 22, 2002 in
honor of President Emeritus Dr. Orville
Kean. Some 120 individuals turned out
during the afternoon to share food and
enjoy entertainment. The day also gave
UVI departments on the St. Croix
campus a chance to provide the public
with information on their programs
and offerings. Dr. Kean was presented
with a large plaque ii iii 1 i ,li ii
his successful efforts to expand and
develop the University's St. Croix campus.
Musical entertainment was provided
by a Caribbean Fusion, Valrica Bryson,
Voices in Harmony, Ayinde Popo,
Ronnie Russell, the V.I. Arts Ensemble
and Big Band.
SEPTEMBER 11TH AGRICULTURE
SEPTEMBER 2002 AUGUST 2002
The University of the Virgin Islands
joined schools and 1'i ii Iii.,..
liii,.1 .11 iii the territory and the world
in recognizing the first anniversary of
the September 11th terrorist attacks on
the United States. Events were held on
both campuses where students, faculty,
staff and administrators remembered
the attacks and paid homage to the
thousands of people who lost their lives.
On the St. Croix campus the theme for
the day's events was, "UVI Remembers
9/11." The blowing of the conch shell
announced the commencement of a
minute of silence at the exact times
of the attacks. The theme for the events
on the St. Thomas campus was,
"We Remember 9/11 ... A Tree Planting
for Peace." A lignum vitae, which produces
one of densest woods in the region, was
planted. It was surrounded with red
and white "..ii.. -g i, !I. .. and several
small American flags.
Farmers in the territory received
information they otherwise may not
have had access to thanks to the Virgin
Islands Natural Resources and Agricultural
Workshop held August 5-9, 2002. The
workshop, held for two days on St. Thomas
and two days on St. Croix at the University
of the Virgin Islands campuses, put local
farmers in direct contact with officials
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA). The workshop, held annually
on the mainland, was held for the first
time in the Virgin Islands. The workshop
included sessions in farm management
and planning, crop insurance, financing
small farm operations, agro-forestry,
organic crop production practices and
the 2002 Farm Bill. There were also
several panel discussions. Participants
learned about services like low interest
loans and cost-sharing initiatives. Day
two of the workshop included seminars
in the morning and a field trip in the
afternoon, when farming concepts and
practices were highlighted.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Dr. LaVerne Ragster made her
debut as president of the
University of the Virgin Islands,
on August 1, 2002 in front of
colleagues, supporters and mem
bers of the media. UVI's fourth
president and first female president,
Dr. Ragster spoke about her goals
for UVI. At a press conference in
the Sports and Fitness Center, she
said she looks forward to working
with faculty and staff to lead UVI
boldly along its continued path
Twenty-two teachers from
S11 i i 1,i ii the territory spent
four weeks at the University of
the Virgin Islands -from June 17
to July 18, 2002 -learning writing
techniques to take back to their
classrooms. The teachers were
participants in the Virgin Islands
Writing Project, a local chapter
of the National Writing Project,
which uses the approach of
"teachers teaching teachers"
to help kindergarten though
college-level teachers better learn
how to teach writing and develop
their classroom skills. It is the
first such program established in
the U.S. Virgin Islands. Participants
attended daily classroom sessions,
some of which included guest
lectures. UVI Humanities Professor
Dr. Trevor Parris is the director
of the VIWP Ivanna Eudora Kean,
English Teacher Amy Roberts is
co-director. Dr. LeRoy Trotman,
the V.I. Department of Education's
deputy commissioner for curricu
lum and instruction, is facilitator
of the project.
TOM JOYNER 5K RUN/WALK
MONTH AT UVI MARCH 2002
L A A flf l\
MAv r2 UU
The University of the Virgin Islands
received a special 40th anniversary
gift when it was selected as the Tom
Joyner Foundation featured
Historically Black College and
University (HBCU) for the month of
May 2002. Forty-seven UVI students
received a combined total of
$92,152 in scholarships, five laptop
computers and four desktop
computers from corporate sponsors
of the Tom Joyner Foundation. UVI
also received scholarship funds
from individuals who pledged
donations during May and
December. Along with receiving
scholarship assistance, the
University was featured on the
nationally syndicated "Tom Joyner
Morning Show," which is broadcast
to 102 stations including WWKS-FM
101.3 in the Virgin Islands. UVI was
also recognized during a "Sky
Show" broadcast from Selma,
Alabama. While their "Fantastic
Voyage" cruise was docked in the
Charlotte Amalie Harbor, Tom
Joyner and crew were the featured
guests at a luncheon hosted by UVI.
As part of the University of the
Virgin Islands 40th Anniversary
events, a 5K Walk-Run was held
on St. Croix. The route from
Sunshine Mall to UVI was trailed
by 80 people who walked, ran
and jogged. UVI's students, faculty,
staff, and community members
participated in the event. The
event was so successful that
organizers have made it an
annual event to be held during
UVI's charter month, March.
About 100 people participated in
the Second Annual UVI Queen
Mary Highway 5K Walk/Run
held in March 2003.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
hen Winifred Anthony was failing
math in the seventh grade, neighbor
and friend Rosalia Rohan encouraged
her to join UVI's Upward Bound program.
Upward Bound is a college preparatory
program designed to develop skills and
motivation in students to help them attain
academic success in high school and beyond
Anthony progressed well in the Upward
Bound program and by the next 1i' |" l. i i ,
period she had raised an F in math to an A.
"In Upward Bound they dealt with me
as an individual, as a whole person,"
\,, ill 1 now Anthony-Todman said. She
explained that years ago she had the aptitude
but lacked the motivation to excel in school.
Today, Anthony-Todman is an Upward
Bound counselor who holds a Bachelor of
Arts degree in social work and a Master of
Arts degree in education with concentrations
in counseling and guidance from UVI.
Upward Bound was designed to assist high
school students from low income families and
potential first generation college students. It
was one of the TRIO Programs created by
former President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on
Poverty Act. Funded by the U.S. Department of
Education and administered by UVI, there are
Upward Bound offices on UVI's St. Croix and
St. Thomas campuses. Students from St. John
attend Upward Bound on the St. Thomas
Upward Bound Director Rohan said that
Anthony-Todman is one of Upward Bound's
"There are so many ways that this program
touched the lives of students," Rohan said. "I
think that Upward Bound in and of itself is a
Thousands of students have passed through
Upward Bound during its 37 years of existence.
"There are so many students from all walks of
life who have been through the program. It's
amazing, really," Rohan said, noting that most
of the program's students go on to earn college
Seventy students lii.i, 1. i.. the territory are
now enrolled in UVI's Upward Bound program,
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
which started out serving students in grades
10 through 12. It has since expanded to include
ninth graders and recent high school graduates,
who are involved in the Upward Bound "bridge"
program. Academic and recreational offerings
have also increased.
"I can recall when we pretty much focused
on the three Rs," said Rohan, who has worked
with Upward Bound for 25 years and has been
its director for 15 years. The program now has
tutorials for just about every class offered in high
school -algebra, pre-calculus, chemistry,
physics, French and Spanish, to name a few.
The summer program has also evolved to
include classes in steel pan, beginner's
swimming and public speaking.
"We've added so many dimensions to the
program in hopes of developing well-rounded
Another program that has become essential
to the Virgin Islands community is UVI's Small
Business Development Center. The center is a
partnership program with the U.S. Small
Business Administration. The SBDC's Lead
Center and Service Center offices are located in
Nisky Center on St. Thomas and Sunshine Mall
on St. Croix, respectively. UVI-SBDC serves the
community in three basic ways. The staff
provides one-on-one management and technical
counseling assistance to business owners and
potential business owners. The center offers
training sessions that include workshops,
seminars and conferences to its clients and to
the wider community. UVI-SBDC also conducts
entrepreneurship outreach initiatives at local
schools, to non-profit i ,iiii ,i.,i,.. and other
Senior Business Counselor and Acting
Associate Director Linroy E. Freeman said that
while creative business opportunities exist in
the Virgin Islands, several things make starting
a business challenging. That's where UVI
SBDC comes in.
"Potential small businesses and owners fall
short many times in their ability to properly
engage in pre-business planning and research,"
Freeman said. Too many businesses fail or
experience unnecessary stress because of the
owner's lack of planning. He said that one of
the primary functions of UVI-SBDC is to provide
clients with pre-business planning to help
ensure a successful business.
The idea of opening a retail business
intimidated St. Croix jewelry designer Anita
Shultz so much that when she decided that it
"Ilike to view upward Bound as a program that makes a difference" Rosalia Rohan
students," Rohan said. The program also
collaborates with other universities, which
provide exchange opportunities to students in
its summer and bridge programs. Some of the
institutions that Upward Bounders get to attend
during the summer include Lincoln University
in Pennsylvania and the State University of
New York at Buffalo.
UVI's Upward Bound program has recently
been given a new mandate to serve "higher risk"
"We need to find students who may have no
interest whatsoever in going to college and
motivate them to join the program," Rohan
explained. The new mandate will make entry
into the program even more competitive than it
has always been.
Rohan and her full-time staff of three have
submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of
Education to increase the program's serving
capacity to 130 students per year. Rohan said
that the new mandate and an increase in
students will mean that Upward Bound will have
to increase its services and focus more on
parental and community involvement.
"Upward Bound is not even a drop in the
bucket for what the Virgin Islands community
needs," Rohan said, still she cannot imagine
what the community would be like without
Upward Bound. "I like to view Upward Bound as
a program that makes a difference."
UVI-SBDC counsels about 800 business
clients per year. About 1,000 people attend the
training sessions and workshops annually.
UVI-SBDC State Director Warren Bush said
that the center has a tremendous technical,
social and economic impact on the .- mim ii .
providing services that otherwise would not have
been available to the local population. Seventy
percent of the clients seek UVI-SBDC assistance
when they are in the start-up phase of a
Business counselors guide those clients
through the step by step processes of starting
a business, dealing with -, i ilig from
registering a trade name to writing a business
plan to getting a loan. Staff members follow
a business from start-up to fruition.
Existing business owners can also receive
technical counseling from UVI-SBDC. The
center offers many training sessions 1,,,,,gl,11~1
the year. More than 60 training sessions are
scheduled for 2003. Training is conducted by the
UVI-SBDC staff, contracted consultants and via
in-kind presentations from UVI personnel and
other public and private sector professionals.
Perhaps the best thing about UVI-SBDC is
that all of the counseling and most of the
training is free and the services are available to
anyone. There are no eligibility requirements.
All program offerings are free to UVI faculty,
staff and students.
was her destiny to open jewelry repair and
handmade jewelry design store she immediately
went to UVI-SBDC. Daniel Hogue, the former
associate director of UVI-SBDC, gave her the
confidence to proceed in the business.
"He was able to give me really concise
,11, I, i i l and industry advice," Shultz said.
Hogue and Senior Business Counselor Phyllis
Bryan helped Shultz develop a business plan,
which Shultz says she considered difficult, since
she had no previous retail experience. With a
$5,000 loan from a bank in Georgia and a
$10,000 loan from a friend, Shultz was able
to open Jewelweed on what she called a "shoe
string budget for a jewelry store."
"I had nothing much, but I had people who
trusted in my ability," Shultz said of the UVI
SBDC staff. "I was instilled with confidence
from having such a great business resource at
my fing, Ilil'.." she said. "Phyllis was my coach
and my cheerleader."
After about a year in business, Shultz
encountered some bookkeeping problems and
called UVI-SBDC. Bryan sent over an accountant
who solved the problem. Shultz ended up hiring
the accountant, who still does the bookkeeping
Jewelweed, which occupies 900 square feet
space in a store on Queen Cross Street in
Christiansted, has developed a clientele of mostly
locals who purchase Schultz's handmade special
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
custom pieces made from silver, platinum and
gold. During the first year in business Jewelweed
grossed $67,000. Now two years later, Jewelweed
expects to double that amount.
"When people are spending more and more
money on the pieces you make, it's a good
thing," Shultz said, grateful to the resources
Bush said that while UVI-SBDC provides
expert advice and services to business owners
and potential business owners, there is a key
factor that frustrates his staff and his clients
alike -the shortage of funding sources in
the Virgin Islands.
"We need a venue that would create more
lending opportunities," Bush said, noting the
need for non-traditional lending sources and
specialized lending institutions. Lending
institutions are necessary, especially given
coral reefs, few other places in the world offer
the type of environment that UVI's Virgin Islands
Environmental Resource Station (VIERS) offers.
VIERS is an eco-camp and research facility
that is home to some of the best coral reefs in
the Caribbean. Located on Lameshur Bay on St.
John, within the boundaries of the V.I. National
Park and the UNESCO biosphere reserve, it
allows research in a pristine, undeveloped
habitat. VIERS has been providing unique
research and learning opportunities for 37
years. It has been a UVI facility for 33 years.
Originally commissioned by the U.S. Navy
for Project Tektite, an underwater habitat and
research project that was conducted in 1969 and
1970, the Lameshur Bay campsite was turned
over to the College of the Virgin Islands (now
the University of the Virgin Islands) in 1970.
According to Dr. Richard Nemeth, UVI's
I was instilled with confidence from having such a
at my fingertips"- Anita Shultz, Business Owner
as an important habitat for juvenile sea species.
UVI received a grant to restore the mangroves
in the Lameshur Bay area to the condition they
were in 15 years ago.
VIERS has five dormitory-style cabins, two
research cabins, a classroom, library, office,
restroom and shower facilities, a kitchen and
dining hall. There is also a diving facility and
laboratory with a circulating sea water
aquarium. The camp can accommodate up
to 40 people.
Along with researchers, VIERS welcomes
members of the local community. Groups
interested in nature can stay overnight at the
campsite and participate in educational
programs that include seashore exploration,
animal and plant identification, mangrove
walks and snorkeling. Nature trails maintained
by the National Park Service, which include
great business resource
the high cost of doing business in the territory
"The cost of starting a business is so expensive
here," Bush said. Starting a business in the
territory costs about 30 percent more than in
the states, mainly because I i lli, has to
be shipped in, he said.
Freeman noted that potential business owners
should always take into consideration their
personal credit. The path to starting a business
can be smooth until it is time to get a loan and
someone is given a credit check, he said.
Bush said that one of the center's goals is to
expand its services and offerings on the island
of St. Croix, which is economically depressed.
He said that UVI-SBDC is working with the St.
Croix Chamber of Commerce to develop
programs specifically aimed at developing the
St. Croix economy. The center will also work
with banks on St. Croix to recognize and help
businesses that are experiencing problems.
The creation of more small businesses in
the territory will lead to increased employment
opportunities for locals and more tax collection
for the government, Bush says. And the UVI
SBDC provides a win-win opportunity for
Dr. Peter Edmunds, a visiting scientist from
the U.S. mainland, has been' -',1,i. ii ig coral
reef research for the past 12 years. Because of the
type of research he does, studying the impact of
hurricanes on the growth and mortality rate of
director of the Center for Marine and
Environmental Studies, VIERS has continued
its history of significant research during the
past few years.
"VIERS has the potential to become a thriving
research center," Dr. Nemeth said, noting that
the station is used by visiting scientists, faculty,
students and community groups.
Between 1998 and 2002 about 3,600 people
visited VIERS. During that period the facility has
housed 78 educational groups from the V.I. and
the Caribbean; 55 educational groups from the
U.S. and other countries; and 25 groups of
researchers. Dr. Nemeth hopes that in the
coming years even more people will find VIERS
useful for research and educational purposes.
"In the last few years, Clean Islands
International has been successful in getting
grants for eco-camps," Dr. Nemeth said of the
non-profit company contracted by UVI in 1997
to manage VIERS. The eco-camps target Virgin
Islands children and provide ecological marine
and terrestrial education.
Clean Islands International provides
educational and technical assistance to island
communities. UVI's contract with Clean Islands
International was recently renewed for five more
One of UVI's current projects is a mangrove
restoration at Lameshur Bay. Mangroves are
significant in that they prevent erosion and serve
historic sugar estates, bay rum distilleries and
petroglyphs, are also accessible from VIERS.
Dr. Nemeth and his staff are writing a grant
proposal to the National Science Foundation,
that, if approved, would provide funding to
upgrade the lab facilities which will encourage
more scientists to use the station.
At a time when international conflict is on
the rise, VIERS provides researchers with an
excellent alternative to any tropical study
site in the world.
UVI's Upward Bound, Small Business
Development Center and Virgin Islands
Environmental Resource Station are just a
few of the exceptional opportunities available
to members of the community. UVI has made
a commitment to improve the quality of life
in the Virgin Islands and beyond with these
and many more outreach programs. J
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Children, Youth and
Families at Risk .....
82 year-old CYFAR participant Henry Thompson.
ith a quick click of the computer
mouse he settles on the perfect
picture to complement an article,
then transports the image into the newsletter.
After a few more keystrokes, Thompson prints
the document, proudly viewing his work before
tucking the newsletter inside a blue work
If Thompson is proud of himself, he has
good reason to be. At age 82 he has mastered
technical skills that leave many people half
his age scratching their heads in frustration.
In the Fall of 2002, Thompson signed up
for a computer course through the University
of the Virgin Islands' Children Youth and
Families at Risk-or CYFAR-program.
The program is administered through UVI's
Cooperative Extension program.
CYFAR is funded by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture through a five-year $150,000 grant.
The program operates in two areas of the Virgin
Islands designated as high-risk by the federal
government-Tutu Hi-Rise Apartments on St.
Thomas and the Louis Brown Villas on St. Croix.
"The basic goal is to provide technology skills
and to get the youth to come in off the street
and become productive members of society,"
says Helen Dookhan, coordinator of the CYFAR
project on St. Thomas.
CYFAR, now in its third year, has taken its
mandate and run with it. The proof of the
program's success is evident in the lives of
adults like Thompson, who says he entered
the program with one simple goal.
"I wanted to learn to type a letter without
looking down," he says. He admits to typing
with an occasional peek at the keyboard, but
he has far exceeded his goals. Thompson's
portfolio is filled with colorful fliers, newsletters,
business letters and eye-catching charts created
using the Excel computer program.
"Before taking the class I would hang around
in town with the guys and go to lunch," says the
retiree. "The class gives you an outlet to use
some of your time productively, instead of
wasting time gabbing about everyone."
The adult computer class meets in the
recreation center at Tutu High Rise. Some
students live in the housing complex, while
others live in the surrounding area.
Few of Thompson's classmates are under
age 65, which presented a challenge for
Jacqueline Blyden, the instructor and program
assistant for CYFAR.
"I had to use a lot of patience because many
of them had never touched a computer before.
I taught them how to use the keyboard, then
we practiced using the mouse because they had
it going all over the place," she says laughing.
Now, students like Clement Friday, a retired
supervisor at Texaco, and his wife Lillian, zip
along on the Gateway computers each morning.
"You need to know computers to be able to
get ahead because that's what the world is all
about now," says Clement as he shows off a
thank-you card he made on the computer.
Lillian, a retired nurse, says, "I tell other
people, if I can do it, everyone else can. It's
not as hard as it seems."
Ellen Daniel, 75, had a computer in her
house, but says, "Unless my grandchildren
were there to show me, I didn't know much."
Daniel, a CYFAR student for the past 18
months, now has a portfolio full of envelopes,
business letters and report cover sheets that
"Grandchildren need to look up to you
and know you can do something," she says.
Thompson, Daniel and the other adult
students file out of the classroom at noon,
leaving Blyden time to get the area ready for
the dozen or so public school students who
come in after school.
The students, who attend nearby E. Benjamin
Oliver and Joseph Gomez Elementary schools,
use the computers for homework and Internet
research projects. Blyden provides assistance
with math and English skills.
According to Dookhan, the students also
attend workshops on gardening, tree planting,
and arts and crafts.
Youth on St. Croix engage in similar activities
through the CYFAR program on that island,
according to Lois Sanders, assistant director of
4H/Family & Consumer Sciences program at UVI.
"We have 10 to 15 children who come in
daily after school. We do a lot of 4H activities
that engage children in positive leadership
and citizenship activities," says Sanders.
Because of the renovation activities under
way at Louis Brown villas, CYFAR activities take
place on the UVI St. Croix campus, she says.
CYFAR's adult computer classes on St. Croix
are conducted with a twist, Sanders adds.
"We are working with farmers, teaching them
how to record what they're growing and how
much they sell, using the computer," she says.
Some eight farmers attend evening computer
classes twice a week, where they learn the basics
of keyboard usage and' i" 1 i t g charts and
billing statements, according to Sanders.
The program also offers residents some
traditional cooperative extension program
workshops, such as money management.
"One reason the federal government gave
this money to Cooperative Extension Services
liiii1 ig iiii the nation is so we could make
our offerings available to particular
communities," Sanders says.
"We are definitely doing that." -
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
(left to right) Rosalia Payne '68 & '70, Ronald Harrigan
'68 & '72, and Yvonne Solomon Freeman '78 & '97 view
cultural displays during inaugural week.
* Richard Skerrit '80 (left) UVI's first Rhodes Scholar and
manager of the West Indies Cricket Team, and Eustace
Hobson '71 (right) architectural entrepreneur, both of St.
Kitts. Skerritt and Hobson visited the St. Thomas campus
for the inaugural activities in March, when Skerritt took
time to admire his UVI sports Hall of Fame award in the
Sports and Fitness Center showcase.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
u) ~Z -*IST
Nevis' Newcastle Airport is renamed Vance W. Amory Attorneys Aquanette Chinnery '77 and Renee
International in recognition of UVI Alumnus the Honorable Gumbs-Carty '87 review a UVI yearbook at the
Vance W. Amory, Premier of Nevis. alumni reception in the Sports and Fitness
Center during inaugural week
UVI alumnus Robert L. Scatliffe ('99) arrived off the
coast of Kuwait in the North Arabian Gulf while assigned
to the dock landing ship USS Rushmore, which is based
in San Diego. The USS Rushmore was one of the ships
in the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group in support of
Operation Enduring Freedom. Scatliffe, a lieutenant with
the U.S. Navy, received a bachelor's degree in
Mathematics from UVI.
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil L. Douglas and UVI
President LaVerne E. Ragster meet in the Prime Minister's
Basseterre office in January 2003. The meeting was part of
a visit Dr. Ragster paid to UVI alumni and friends of the
University in St. Kitts and Nevis.
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
Auguste E. Rimpel, Jr., Ph.D., Chair
Paul Arnold, B.A.
Jorge Galiber, M.D., Vice Chair
Roy D. Jackson, M.B.A.,C.P.A.
Alexander Moorhead, M.A.
Ellen Murraine, B.A., M.A.
Bernard Paiewonsky, Ph.D.
Henry C. Smock, J.D.
Yvonne E. L. Thraen, Ph.D.
John Munro, B.S., M.S.
Ruth E. Thomas, M.A., Ed.S
Sylvia Ross Talbot, Ed.D
Alfred 0. Heath, M.D.
Howard L. Jones, Ph.D.
Patrick N. Williams, B.A.
Ex Officio Trustees
Noreen Michael, Ph.D.
Commissioner of Education, United States Virgin Islands
Jorge Galiber, M.D.
Chairman, Board of Education, United States Virgin Islands
LaVerne E. Ragster, Ph.D.
The Honorable Charles W. Turnbull, Ph.D.
Governor of the United States Virgin Islands
UVI MAGAZINE 2003
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