Sunday, July 15, 2012

Aimery Caron


Aimery Caron
My mother died in August 1967 while I was teaching chemistry at the University of Massachusetts. This tragedy caused my father to ask me to come help him manage the family’s gift shop, C. & M. CARON on Main Street. However, after serving as general manager at the gift shop for a period of six months, we met some irreconcilable differences that convinced me that I was better suited to academia. Thus, it was that in January 1969, I applied for a teaching position at CVI, which was then a two-year college. President Lawrence Wanlass offered me the position of administrative assistant and the rank of associate professor of chemistry with no teaching assignment for the rest of the year. This was a crucial time when CVI was planning to become a four-year college in the following fall. Therefore, my main assignment was to recruit new faculty members whose numbers were to be increased by 35 or 50 % by the following semester.

The 1970s were very exciting years. In particular, I recall that while writing the history of the Virgin Islands Dr. Isaac Dookhan awakened my interest in the subject. After many discussions, we both came to wonder why the Columbus encounter with Island-Caribs at Salt River on 14 November 1493, and the St. John Revolt started at Fortsberg on 23 November 1733 were shrouded in myths and not commemorated. We therefore proposed to the Administrative Council in spring 1975 that the CVI academic calendar name the Friday after Thanksgiving Day (Thursday), Fortsberg/Discovery day. The proposal was approved and ever since the UVI catalog has carried that mention.

Aimery Caron photo taken in 1969
This led me, while on a sabbatical leave in 1976–1977, to search the French National Archives for factual information concerning the St. John revolt. My research bore fruits, the real facts came to light, and, in 1981, in collaboration with Dr. Arnold Highfield, we published through the Bureau of Libraries The French Intervention in the St. John Slave Revolt of 1733-34.

Other exciting events in the 1970s included the award by NSF of the first biomedical research project to isolate natural products of medical interest, including the ciguatera toxin, from the local terrestrial flora and the marine fauna and flora. Also of great interest, in fall 1977, was the establishment of the Office of Community Services which offered non-credit educational activities, such as seminars, conferences, workshops, training courses, etc. until 1994, when it was abolished. 

Dr. Caron worked at UVI from 1969 until 2001 when he retired. He is now Professor Emeritus of Chemistry.




1 comment:

  1. I recently met Dr. Aimery Caron and he kindly gave me his mailing address. Sadly, I lost the piece of paper on which it was written and I am now searching for a source to recover it. I would be most grateful to anyone who could send it to me. My cell phone number is 1-850-508-8661. Thank you.

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