Sunday, June 24, 2012

Paul Flemming - 1995, 1998, 1999

Paul Flemming
Congratulations to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) on this auspicious occasion! Your 50 years of service is indeed a golden milestone worth celebrating.

I am a proud alumnus of the University of the Virgin Islands. I first enrolled at the University in 1992 pursuing an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Management. When I graduated in 1995, I was able to secure a job at UVI’s Agricultural Experiment Station as a research analyst. This assignment taught me a valid lesson in academic research which actually came in handy later in my academic journey. While working in this position, I felt a calling to pursue graduate studies and so I did. In 1997, I started both the Masters of Business Administration and the Masters of Public Administration programs at UVI and graduated in 1998 and 1999 respectively.

I felt compelled to give back some of the business principles that the University taught me. As such, I joined the University’s Small Business Development Center as a part-time business consultant working with small businesses in the community. In 2000, I was also afforded the opportunity to serve as an Adjunct Professor by Ms. Nereida Washington and Professor Aubrey Washington to teach a business class. According to Ms. Washington, “We know that you can do it, and we believe in you. Make us proud.” Those words resonated with me, encouraged me, and gave me hope, which ultimately brought out my passion for teaching. I must be doing some things right because I am still teaching today!

Paul Flemming photo taken in 1995
In 2003, I was appointed as the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Lottery where I proudly and confidently represented my alma mater. While at that agency, I felt an urge to get back into academics, and in 2006 I enrolled at Capella University where I pursued a Ph.D. in Organizations and Management specializing in General Business. The discipline I learned at UVI prepared me well, and on August 9, 2009, I graduated with my Doctor of Philosophy in Organizations and Management ahead of my class. My dissertation “A Study of the Relationship between Transformational Leadership Traits and Organizational Culture Types in improving Performance in Public Sector Organizations: A Caribbean Perspective” was well received. The bibliographic information for this thesis is contained in University Microfilms International Dissertation Abstracts database, the only central source for accessing almost every doctoral dissertation accepted in North America since 1861.

Reflecting through my academic lenses, I can truly say thank you UVI for the academic foundation you gave me and others in this community. 

Paul Flemming is Coordinator of Business Development at the Industrial Park Development Corporation.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Randy Brown

Randy Brown
“We have to drive down that road?” We looked down the hill and the next question was “If we get down there, how will we ever get out?” My first visit to UVI’s biology field station on St. John, the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station (VIERS) in December 1993, was quite an adventure. Tricia Hopkins, Steve Kullen and I were representing Clean Islands International on an orientation tour of the Virgin Islands. We had visited St. Croix and St. Thomas (including both campuses of UVI) to meet with public and private environmental professionals to assist us in developing and presenting waste reduction workshops, which were funded by the USEPA. On St. Thomas and St. John, our guide was Tara Evans, an employee of the Public Works department who was also involved in developing recycling and environmental education efforts. She told us that if we were really going to visit St. John, we needed to go “out to” VIERS. Since she was not available, we were on our own.

We rented a little Jeep-like vehicle in Cruz Bay and drove out past Coral Bay, past Salt Pond, past the end of the paved road. The directions were “When you get to the end of paved road, keep going, go over the hill, then go about another mile.” We drove off the paved road and proceeded up a steep winding hill, so steep that we felt like we were driving straight into the sky. Then we reached the top and could see the other side. We stopped to take in the beauty of the very green valley and turquoise bay. Then we looked down a very steep and rough road which was mostly ruts and loose rocks. But while we were standing there evaluating the situation, a little beat-up Suzuki buzzed by, so we proceeded on.

Randy Brown at VIERS in 1997
After maneuvering pond-deep potholes, we finally found VIERS, nestled in the woods. The entire area was overgrown with very dense vegetation and the cabins were barely visible and were painted “National Park” brown. And there were a few people around. The cook told us that everyone was down at the beach and invited us back for lunch. After just a five minute walk to the beach at Little Lameshur Bay, we found two dozen teens in the water. They were a group of high school students from Alaska visiting VIERS for a week. They had made little boats from leaves and other natural things. We were invited to judge the boat races. Most failed to stay afloat, others failed to move, and most just fell over, but it was a lot of fun. And it captured the excitement of learning in the natural environment. At lunch we met the manager, who gave us an overview of VIERS’ history and what activities she was involved with in the community.

We really enjoyed our first visit to VIERS and even made it back over the hill. It was love at first sight for all three of us, and we are all still very much connected to VIERS today. It would have been hard to imagine on that day that in just four years, we would be in charge of VIERS’ stewardship. Now, almost 20 years later, Lameshur Bay remains just as we first witnessed it. And though there have been some changes, the VIERS staff continue to be as welcoming as on our first visit. And we still enjoy snorkeling in Lameshur Bay.

Randy Brown is Executive Director of Clean Islands International which has operated VIERS since 1977.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Richard Lippke

Richard Lippke

When I signed on to teach at CVI in 1969, I was a boob from South Dakota. One of the first lessons I learned was that there were more boobies (of the winged kind) in the Virgin Islands, than boobs in the entire states of the land-locked Dakotas, (about 650,000). Interesting -- but relevant?

Lesson 2 - In 1969, no orientation could possibly prepare you for the difficulty you would have in gathering materials, supplies, tools, spaces to store them and to work in, with a flock of willing students to meet you there to build a stage set for my speech and theatre colleague, Jim Duderstadt's proposed (November) production of My Three Angels, a charming play with a Caribbean setting, a good choice. Or so I thought.
Lesson 3 - Mauricio Escardo. The man with the musical name. (All speech teachers know you have to say it aloud to fully appreciate it.) He it was who chaired the Humanities Division and lured me to this special island, and for that I'm eternally grateful. But he couldn't really help me to avoid my pending first semester disaster.

Lesson 4 - Have faith. A gentle giant, Mr. Peets, could and did. Many, many thanks to Mr. Peets, his crew, his boss, and all the other like-minded (faculty and staff), who, when able to help, did.

Lesson 5 - The Show Must Go On? Not true. Unlucky Jim Duderstadt lost a key performer in the play -- the guy totally disappeared from the island, a week before opening, and the production had to be postponed, later cancelled. Very lucky for me, my first-semester capability was not immediately destroyed.

Lesson 6 - When possible, avoid fires on campus, especially indoors. Yes, in late 1969 or early 1970, there was a fire between the Little Theatre and (Mr. Watlington's) the Registrar's Office. I can attest to smoke and soot when I, later, was stringing lighting cables from the stage to the lighting (film, sound control) booth. Some students and I did a readers’ theatre presentation in the theatre, whether before or after the fire, I can not recall.

Lesson 7 - Improvise. I do recall that we (classes, students, and I) were not able to use the theatre for months, so (necessity breeds invention) I improvised an interim "Theatre Service" course (and got a small enrollment). We headquartered -- thanks to many, I'm sure -- in one of the corner rooms (open-air) of the Paiewonsky Library. There, we collectively put together an in-the-classroom-interactive presentation we called "Cp. & Ct." [comparison and contrast] which jibed with aspects of the required basic English course at the time.

To this day, I remember the often wonderful contributions to that project. (Corollary lesson for boobs: never underestimate the capability of your students.)

I was pleased and proud that we few had kept alive the spirit and ideas of theatre at CVI. And then, in 1970, a wee woman, who would become the backbone and spirit of theatre at UVI for twenty-five years, Rosary E. Harper, joined the speech and theatre faculty.

Richard Lippke - 1970 CVI Yearbook
While I was just getting started, these "lessons" must end here. Indirectly I hope it is apparent from them that I learned as much in my five years at CVI as my students could possibly have learned from me. I'd like to thank a long list of students, faculty, staff, islanders, down­ islanders, hosts, artists, landlords (I had two great ones), friends, and friends-of-friends each by name, but this is a UVI anniversary celebration, not the Academy Awards. If you remember me at all positively, you can be sure your name is on my list, or should be.

Though never a great fan of Alfred Tennyson, the English poet, I've always responded to his Ulysses who says: "I am a part of all that I have met." How true that has been in my personal and professional Odyssey, forty-four years as a teacher, especially that five-year adventure from the prairies of Dakota on the island of St. Thomas

Dr. Richard L. Lippke is now Professor Emeritus at Indiana University Southeast. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Samuel H. Hall, Jr. - 1968

Sam Hall
It was 1964. I remember sitting in class in high school (CAHS), bored to death, looking out the classroom door at a bright sunny day. Like so many young men in high school I was in danger of dropping out. I came real close. On several occasions I imagined myself getting up from my desk and walking out the door and never coming back. All I could see was how education was getting in the way of my present, preventing me from going to the beach, or to the movies, playing basketball, riding my motorcycle, etc.

Fortunately, someone—I don’t remember who—suggested I give education another chance and take a course at the newly created College of the Virgin Islands. And so I did. While still a high school student, I took first one and then more courses in the evening over a period of three years. There I interacted with hardworking adults who taught me by their example the value of getting an education. After completing a full day’s work at a full-time job, and after attending to their families, they traveled to what was then the “country” in St. Thomas to go to CVI at night. They did it to better themselves and their families. Their hard work and sacrifice taught me how easy my life as a bored high school student was compared to theirs; they taught me that even at (what seemed to me at the time) their advanced stage in life, despite how much they had achieved and had experienced, they still saw the value of education and worked hard to get it in order to improve their present and to perfect their lives. By extension, they showed me that education could be a doorway to a better future, not an obstacle to my present. Without realizing it, these adults were my mentors.

As a result, from 1964-66, I took evening courses in math, accounting and business law. By the time I became a full-time student, I already had a half-year’s worth of credits under my belt. This was long before there was an early admissions program at CVI.

First CVI fund raising campaign in the late 1970's. From the left 
are Orville Kean, Robert Moss, Enid Baa, Sam Hall, Olivia Stanford, 
Alexander Farrelly, Rehenia Gabriel, Ivan Williams and Desmond Maynard. 
Farrelly and Hall were co-chairs.
When I later became a full-time student at CVI in 1966, I had never even been to St. Croix or to any other island in the Caribbean outside of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John. LIAT was in its infancy. The seaplane shuttle did not yet exist. I learned about other islands from my fellow students. As we played dominoes or cards or interacted in the dorms, we argued incessantly about which island was better. The fact that most of us only really knew our own home island did not stop us from expressing our unequivocal opinion that our island was best. But in doing so, we learned about islands and life in places to which we had never been. This was how I (we) came to meet and know some of the brightest minds of the Caribbean and, in the process, made friendships that have lasted to this day.

As we celebrate UVI’s Golden Jubilee, all alumni must be mindful of the fact that we are the ones to whom much has been given, and from whom much is required. I encourage all to give back to UVI by donating to it. This can be done online by clicking on the Support UVI/Donate Now button. Maybe we can help ensure that the doorway to a better future remains open for others just as it was open for us.

Atty. Sam Hall is now Legal Counsel to UVI’s Board of Trustees.