Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rosary E. Harper

Rosary Harper
Reflections on UVI, ooooh where to start? I first became aware of St. Thomas while reading in Ebony magazine that in the 1940s President Truman appointed an Afro-American named William Henry Hastie as Governor of the U. S. Virgin Islands. I remember thinking I would love to live on an island. Well meh son, twenty-four years later I found myself employed at what was then the College of the Virgin Islands.

I landed on the island of St. Thomas in August 1970. My dream came true! I had been hired as an Instructor of Speech and Theatre. I quickly settled into my office on the second floor of the library, thrilled to be down the hall from President Lawrence Wanlass, the first President of the College. About two months later, the Humanities faculty moved to what was to be a temporary building near the old airplane hangar. Although the hanger is now the fabulous Sports and Fitness Center, the “temporary” Humanities building still stands.

It was in this “temporary“ building that I developed cherished, long-lasting friendships with such faculty members as Drs. Escardo, Padgett, De La Rionda, Sprauve, Tamayo, Lippke and Schubach. What wonderful years we had kidding, fighting, discussing and debating various proposals! We witnessed the College of the Virgin Islands grow into the University of the Virgin Islands. A few years later I was fortunate to welcome two wonderful theatre colleagues: Professors Tom Zeigler and Dennis Parker. My best memories are working with them along with the Division’s Administrative Assistant, Mary Alexander, who literally was the glue holding us together.

R. Harper - 1976 Yearbook
After Zeigler left, Parker and I worked together for 25 years. What marvelous memories I have of our times together staging most Harper/Parker Productions in the UVI Little Theatre. If I had $1.00 for every hour Parker and I spent in that theatre, I would donate every penny to restoring that very special space—and have money left over. Fond memories include all the late night sessions, polishing productions with wonderful, talented, devoted student actors, staff, and technicians. None of this would have been possible without our loyal audience members who still approach me on the street to ask, “When is the next UVI theatre production?”

These are just a few of my special memories of the early years. Throughout my time as a member of the UVI community, I cherish the close relationships I was fortunate to develop with my students in class and in office sessions, advising, counseling or just hanging out. I can still see those eager, smiling faces—and miss them terribly.

I am so fortunate to still live on this lovely island and often engage in University activities, “waiting in the wings” to be of assistance!  

Dr. Rosary Harper is Professor Emerita of Speech, Communication and Theatre.
She remains active in volunteer activities in the St. Thomas community.


  1. Taught English at what was then the College of the Virgin Islands. For less that one year. Reason? Could not figure out how to play the political game.

  2. I am Don K Pierstorff, who taught at this school when it was CVI. Dr. Rosary Harper remembers me. It is wonderful that Dr. Rosary Harper is still there. And it is great that former CVI president Wanlass is not still there. Respectfully, Don K Pierstorff, Ph.D., English, University of Southern California, retired after teaching many years at Orange Coast College, Orange County, California.

    1. Do you know if Rosary Harper road out the Hurricane okay? I used to visit her and her artist friend, Josee Deckert, back in the 1970's and 1980's. Would love to hear from them. I'm Adrienne Parks. They will remember be.

  3. Would like to find former Dean Rosary Harper, College of the Virgin Islands (from the 1970's and '80's. Many good times back then. Does anyone know how I can reach her? And her French artist friend Josee Deckert? Would like to know if she road out the storm and if she's okay? Thank you,


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