Sunday, January 22, 2012

Frank L. Mills - 1967

Frank L. Mills
Here we are at 50! A time to “big up” ourselves. Indeed, an occasion to backslap because of what the College of the Virgin Islands has now become and what it has achieved. All of this seems so commonplace now, but this was certainly not the future image that captured our student imagination in the mid-1960s.

It is difficult to recall what catapulted me into campus politics in my first semester in the fall of 1965. It is not the politics itself that seems significant, but rather the consequences of being elected Vice President of the Student Association in my first year, and President in the second. What is noteworthy is that as President I was part of a symposium held in the Little Theater to defend the integrity of the fledgling college against a resident stateside writer who harshly criticized CVI as being a “big white elephant!” That is, CVI was labeled an enormously expensive exercise from which the VI would derive little benefit.

Even as a student leader, it was indeed brave for a foreign student to shepherd a group of students on a late Sunday afternoon in 1966 from the cafeteria-cum-library-cum-bookstore, up the hill to the President’s home, because of a totally unpalatable dinner. This was effectively the first campus demonstration – a rather miniscule one compared to the more serious demonstrations of the early 1970s. The first lesson learned was the need to remain resolute when convinced of the rightness of a cause, and the second was that it was in the interest of the chief administrator to ensure that students are reasonably satisfied.

Teaching at UVI in 1976

Some unforgettable events as a student included: my exposure to many notable Virgin Islanders who addressed Ideas and Issues sessions, my first and only visit to Virgin Gorda, witnessing Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Tortola, and working as a student at the Caribbean Research Institute.

My first – and only long-term – job at CVI began in 1974 with a joint appointment as Institutional Research Officer and Assistant Professor of Social Sciences. Teaching was a passion until it became evident that the motivation for a college education had changed significantly – exemplified by a student who, when questioned about her persistent lateness for class, rejoined that it should be no concern of mine since it was her money to waste! It was my significantly productive sabbatical year at the Census Bureau in Washington in 1985-86 that authenticated for me that there are many other meaningful callings in addition to teaching, such as the kind of applied research in which the Caribbean Research Institute was engaged, and eventually becoming the VI Census Data Center.

Direct involvement in the accreditation process of CVI/UVI has spanned my entire work period from getting ready for the first site visit in 1976 to the preparation of the current 2012 Periodic Review Report.

And so, in this Jubilee Year, I salute my alma mater on its many successes!

1 comment:

  1. It is nice to see the transitioning of individuals from UVI in the past to UVI here in the present.


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