Sunday, November 25, 2012

Linette Rabsatt - 1999

Linette Rabsatt

Congratulations to the University of the Virgin Islands on the 50th anniversary! I am a proud graduate of the Class of 1999, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing and Finance.

I value the time I spent at UVI greatly because I feel that those four years made a remarkable impact on my life. I grew academically, professionally and mentally, and was able to seek opportunities that I would not have been privy to without my attending UVI. While I was somewhat strong academically, UVI challenged me to excel even in subjects that I was normally weak in. I can remember my days taking the then “Skills” English classes. However today, I write freelance in my spare time and I prepare speeches for official events. I was always weak in Literature, but with Dr. Vincent Cooper’s encouragement, today I am a poet who has had work published in an anthology and I have performed in the USVI, BVI and Guyana. A lot of the tips I use today for my professional writing, public speaking and professional etiquette came from what I learned at UVI. My tenure at UVI opened many doors for me including some amazing job opportunities. The preparation I received also provided me the launching point for winning a prestigious scholarship to Cornell University.

I am also very thankful for the student job that I had at the Helpdesk of the then Center for Administrative Computing, working along with Kirby Callendar, Vickie Lamkin, Devon Petty and the other students. It was a great experience that benefited me immensely.

Linette Rabsatt - UVI 1998 ID card
I graduated from UVI feeling confident and driven knowing that I made great connections with so many brilliant people and that my education was solid. During my junior year, I was able to take part in UVI’s Summer Institute for Future Global Leaders, and during my senior year, I was able to intern at the prestigious Austin Advertising Agency. To build my character and resume and to join in the student camaraderie, I joined Future Business Leaders of America and the Advertising Club.

I encourage any young person, especially my fellow Virgin Islanders, to take advantage of what UVI has to offer. “Historically American... Uniquely Caribbean... Globally Interactive...” perfectly describes what UVI has to offer any student. With a dynamic and enthusiastic staff and a diverse student body, any graduate should be ready to face today’s global working environment.

Kudos to UVI on a job well done!

Linette Rabsatt, mother of two children, poet and freelance writer, is currently employed with the Department of Agriculture in the British Virgin Islands.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

George A. Condon

George A. Condon

I recall my four years as Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1981-1985, at what was then the College of the Virgin Islands, as some of the most fulfilling years in my entire personal and professional life. I was personally enriched as an “adopted Virgin Islander,” and I continue to hope that I gave to the institution as much as I received.

When I joined CVI it had not yet completed the first score of years of its existence. Presidential leadership, at the time in the hands of its first native-born leader, Dr. Arthur A. Richards, was a work in progress. The roles of President, trustees and legislators were evolving, and prerogatives—real and presumed—were being tested on all sides. While CVI’s future role in the territory’s development and aspirations for self-sufficiency was widely acknowledged (if not completely settled), there were diverse opinions within and outside the institution about the precise definition of that role and the allocation of limited resources, both geographically within the territory and among competing programmatic priorities.

Except for the spring of 1984, when President Richards was ill and it fell on me to act in his place on a variety of issues (a special honor was to testify before the U. S. Congress on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965), academic matters were uppermost in my ongoing involvement. A well-qualified faculty was being developed, and I considered it urgent to add to that strength through new appointments and appropriate rewards for outstanding service, with due protection of the academic freedom which is essential to the free flow of ideas. Believing that the core strength of a college or university is its faculty, I led the effort to redesign internal governance which sought to increase faculty influence over academic policy.

Being one institution with two campuses, I strongly felt that the College should work forcefully to equalize the quality and range of course offerings on both St. Thomas and St. Croix. In the early 1980s the only means of regular contact between the two campuses were telephone and by seaplane, the latter’s utility being limited by its expense, time constraints and reliability. I headed the effort to apply for U.S. federal funds to support planning and facilities for an inter-island telecommunications system which would assure access to postsecondary education “on an equal basis to all residents of the Virgin Islands.”

During the 1981-1985 period the College achieved renewal of its accreditation from the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges and emphasized the central place of long-range planning in its ongoing development, nurtured program enrichment through partnerships with other institutions, and continued to refine its strategy for creating an Eastern Caribbean Center that would extend the College’s reach throughout the region. Internal reforms designed to encourage better communication and more effective relationships with internal and external constituencies were introduced.

George A. Condon - CVI Yearbook 1982
Finally, as a political scientist, I couldn’t resist opportunities when offered to contribute to the always vibrant civic dialogue which characterizes the U. S. Virgin Islands. On one occasion I had the temerity to address legislators on the subject of civility in public discourse. I was politely received and herewith apologize to any who may have thought my comments a bit brash. And I spoke of civic virtue to Rotary Club II, arguing for more public accountability and openness in the conduct of public affairs.

All in all, my time at CVI was most fulfilling as I saw first-hand a fine institution being built brick-by-brick (yes, I worked beside students pouring concrete to build a sidewalk between buildings) by dedicated people in every capacity – students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees and friends. It was a time of optimism, growth, progress, and even a few missteps.

When I left in 1985 the talk on and off campus turned frequently to speculation about CVI’s transition into the University of the Virgin Islands. So many, myself included, take pride in a half-century of great accomplishments and look forward to many more in the years to come.

Dr. George A. Condon was Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1981-1985.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ellis Webster – 1986

Ellis Webster
I attended UVI from 1983 to 1986. Coming from Anguilla, I was intimidated to enter an American college. Immediately, I was put at ease by the supportive faculty and staff. While mesmerized by the credentials and teaching skills of Professors Ragster, Rinehart, Gjessing, MacLean and Pavlis, I found them to be easily approachable and generous with their time and mentorship. Also, although a science major, I found Rosary Harper’s speech class and Nan Elsasser’s comprehensive writing to be most challenging but extremely rewarding. A unique experience was SCUBA with Mark Sabino, which was mandatory for biology majors. This was both thrilling and educational. Imagine an underwater classroom!

UVI instilled a thirst for knowledge and provided a solid foundation for higher learning and a level of confidence which prepared me for graduate and medical school at Yale University. The small classes and experienced faculty at UVI ensured that the concepts were understood, and the individual attention encouraged research and further studies. The UVI curriculum was geared to the Virgin Islands, with practical application of the principles outlined in textbooks. The whole island and the surrounding ocean were our laboratory. I also appreciated the opportunity to attend evening classes with working adults who brought real-life perspectives into the classroom. My lasting friendships with faculty and former students bear testament to the impact of UVI on my life.

Ellis Webster - 1986 CVI Graduation
A lasting experience was the commencement address given by Dr. Ronald McNair, physicist and NASA astronaut, in May 1985. Entitled “You Are Better Than Enough,” Dr. McNair described his education using the analogy of a boxing match, where round-by-round he would be pushed up against the ropes by his courses, only to be knocked down by his advisors, who would question whether as a black student he was good enough. In his senior year, which he described as the fourth round, he finally conquered physics and excelled. He was accepted at the prestigious MIT and realized that he was “better than good enough!” Unfortunately, Dr. McNair perished in the space shuttle Challenger explosion in January 1986. I recall his words whenever I am faced with a challenging situation.

Best wishes UVI on your Golden Jubilee! You have stood the test of time. Your administration, faculty and staff have been top-notch, and the success of your former and current students is a testimony to your commitment to innovative higher learning and shaping productive citizens.

 Dr. Ellis Webster is now an otolaryngologist in Anguilla.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lucia Woods - 1973

Lucia Woods
My four years at the College of the Virgin Islands (CVI) were some of my best years. When I graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in June, 1969, I promised myself that I would become the teacher I had always dreamt that I would become. I also wanted to become part of the answer to the growing problem of teachers coming to the islands and leaving many times during the school year and disrupting the education of the students. I was determined to be one of the best teachers in the Virgin Islands after my graduation. By the way, I did become one of the best teachers and also went up the ladder to become a principal in the public school system in St. Thomas. Glory to God! My parents could not afford to pay for my education. God bless Ms. Jane E. Tuitt who accepted me into the Teacher Education program, with my promise to her that I would maintain a “B” or above average.

Lucia Woods - CVI 1972 Yearbook

The CVI experience was gratifying. We were all a big family, regardless of your island, color, age or gender. Personally my primary focus was my academic education, but on the other hand my social education was very important. I was active in volleyball, pool, golf and running cross country. I was one of the stars of the party life and led many of the carnival troupes. I was able to be part of the many discussions around that time about the operations of governments within the Caribbean and the Black Power movement. I participated in peaceful marches and led the singing at those marches. I had the distinct honor of being a student representative with the then Board of Trustees and was able to be a part of meaningful changes at the college, which included the abolition of curfew. The professors were very helpful to the students. The students also helped each other. We enjoyed the excellent learning environment of the college.

I was able bond with so many persons and I have lasting friendships. UVI’s well-rounded education was next to none for me. The foundation I received there has helped me greatly throughout my educational journey, which includes a doctorate. Now that I am in full-time ministry, I can see how the Lord was preparing me all along. Presently I am the pastor of Agape Total Life Center in Tortola, Virgin Islands. I am now able to affect changes in the natural as well as in the spiritual in the lives here and abroad.

God bless the University of the Virgin Islands. Thank you for being there for me.

Lucia Woods is now a pastor in Tortola.