Sunday, February 12, 2012

Utha O. Williams - 1982

Utha O. Williams
To have a close affiliation with UVI is on its own a very special feeling. But to know that the affiliation helped in some way to build the institution into what we have today indeed has even greater meaning. Two special connections come to mind that occurred during the years I served as the Title III Program Coordinator.

First, under the leadership of the late President Dr. Arthur A. Richards, UVI was engaged in a curriculum improvement plan, a part of which was focused, in response to students’ needs and demands, on developing a comprehensive Music Education Program. With full support of the Board of Trustees which approved establishment of a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education degree, the administration, in collaboration with the Music Education faculty of the late 1970’s, wrote and submitted a strong application to the U.S. Department of Education, Division of Advanced Institutional Development (AIDP) the umbrella agency for the Title III Program. The funding received enabled UVI to renovate the north end of the old Field House (an old airplane hangar built by the U.S. Navy in the 1930’s) to create a two story structure to accommodate faculty studio/offices, classrooms, a choir room, a band room, and practice rooms. Although the grant was funded, there were portions that required stronger justifications to ensure full funding for everything requested.

UVI fought hard to defend the portions of the application that had come under heavy scrutiny by program and financial officers of the U.S. Department of Education. We organized a team and prepared for the negotiations. We traveled to Washington, D.C., to fight for and justify the request for Yamaha pianos, band instruments and all the resources needed to complete renovation of the Field House. After several days of intense meetings and relentless justifications, to the delight of the UVI family our grant was fully funded. Renovation began to create the two story structure and prepare for arrival of the pianos and band instruments for our Music Education Program. We operated out of that modest facility until dedication of our new Music Education Center on February 11, 1999.

That facility represents the second special connection. It came about due to another collaborative effort under the leadership of then President Dr. Orville Kean, the Title III Program, Music Education faculty, and UVI Facilities professionals. The Music Education Center on the St. Thomas Campus stands as a testament to our ingenuity and tenacity to help UVI through two important phases of curriculum and infrastructure development leaving an enduring legacy of what can be accomplished out of devotion for this institution.

Utha O. Williams is currently a professor of Business
at the University of the Virgin Islands.

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