My earliest and most significant memory of UVI was my first visit as a candidate for the Presidency of the University. My connecting flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas was on Cape Air, and though some of the other passengers seemed very nervous, I was not. One person noticed how calm I was and said, “You must do this all the time.” These were clearly prophetic words. I arrived on a Friday in early December 2008 and took a taxi to the Emerald Beach Hotel. I saw the University of the Virgin Islands sign on the Sports and Fitness Center when I landed, but had no idea if that was the main St. Thomas campus.
As I walked along the beach at Lindberg Bay gazing at the nearby hillsides and reflecting on the interview with the Presidential Search Committee that would take place the next day, I began to feel at home. There was something special about this place that penetrated my spirit and gave me a feeling of peace and serenity. My wife Marilyn and I had visited St. Thomas for our honeymoon in 1990, but this was my first trip back since that glorious experience. I vaguely recall passing by the University during one of our tours of the island. I did not know at that time that 19 years later I would be interviewing for the presidency of this special university, nestled within the confines of one of the most beautiful places in the world.
The next day when I met with the search committee, made up of Board members, alumni, supporters, and a faculty and student representative, this spirit of peace and serenity remained with me. Though the group had numerous challenging questions, I felt as though I was having a conversation with kindred spirits who cared deeply about the same issues about which I cared. The session did not feel like a job interview but rather a probing exchange about higher education and the future of UVI.
I left that meeting with an even deeper appreciation for UVI and a genuine excitement about the prospects of being its next president. That excitement still remains today. My initial encounter was not an aberration but has defined my experience with members of the Board and the University. The last three and a half years have taught me many things about UVI, and we have achieved many goals during this time. However, the greatest achievement is the fact that what I observed during that first visit and meeting has not changed. There is a genuine and deep commitment to this University by so many of its stakeholder, students, faculty, staff and alumni. It is a joy working at a place that attracts so many authentic, dedicated and caring people.
I have had numerous significant moments during my journey at UVI, and I look forward to helping to create many more. The beauty of this University is not just its locations, but its people. That beauty has touched my heart, just as it has touched the hearts of so many individuals during the last 50 years. I am honored to be President of this special University during this historic moment in its existence.
Dr. David Hall became UVI’s fifth president in August 2009.