Sunday, May 13, 2012

Constance Gumbs 1987, 1991

Constance Gumbs
It seems like only yesterday, but it is over 30 years since I was hired as secretary to the Bureau of Public Administration at the College of the Virgin Islands (now University of the Virgin Islands).

Under the direction of Dr. Peter Pflaum and Dr. Charles Murphy, the Bureau was responsible for conducting leadership training to public and private sector employees territory-wide. The Bureau of Public Administration became the vital link between the Government of the Virgin Islands, the College of the Virgin Islands and the community. This was evidenced by the many leadership seminars and workshops conducted for the public and private sector employees and for the community as well. Every two years, after senatorial elections, the Bureau conducted pre-legislative conferences tailored specifically to meet the needs of the newly elected and incumbent senators.

After Dr. Pflaum and Dr. Murphy left, Dr. Paul Leary was named the director of the Bureau. With his coming, the Bureau assumed additional responsibilities, including working with the hotel industry where the thrust was to help Virgin Islanders develop an interest in and acquire the skills necessary to work in the hotel industry. The Bureau also researched and documented its findings on status options for the U.S. Virgin Islands and other relevant issues. Much research and information on the status options were submitted to the U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature. This was quite a task as evidenced by the publication Major Political Documents 1671-1991 completed by Dr. Paul M. Leary in 1992. The political status option of the U.S. Virgin Islands is still undetermined.

As I look back now, I see the Bureau of Public Administration as an important outreach arm of the College. In conjunction with other departments, the Bureau addressed critical issues that affected peoples’ way of life and helped them to better understand the political processes and how they affected the day to day concerns of the people.

Constance Gumbs photo taken in 1983.
As the College developed and more persons sought employment, there was growing discontent among the regular staff employees who were not afforded the same treatment as far as the tuition waiver was concerned. In order to address some of the issues on the campus, the Administrative Council and the Conference Group were formed. These gave faculty, administrative staff and regular staff employees a medium through which to discuss the issues affecting them.

From a student’s point of view, the College of the Virgin Islands, through its professors and programs, sought to encourage and to challenge students to broaden their horizons, to look at the broader picture, to understand new concepts and to utilize them as they prepared themselves for the world of work and for other endeavors. 

Ms. Constance Gumbs is now retired and actively volunteers her service to her church.

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