Sunday, January 13, 2013

Doris Battiste – 1971

Doris Battiste
I practically grew up on the St. Thomas campus of the College of the Virgin Islands (CVI), first as a full-time student and then as a member of the Student Affairs staff living in Harvey Student Center, now the Administration and Conference Center. As a freshman, I lived in “Dorm D,” now Middle D, and our resident assistant, Magda Brown-Finch, was my roommate. Rooming with the resident assistant had many advantages and disadvantages. I had to adhere to all of the campus rules and regulations and therefore never got in trouble.

During my sophomore year, the associate dean Ms. Jane E. Tuitt approached me about going to the University of Connecticut on the Teacher Education program for my junior year. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to go. I was advised to talk to my mother about going, and off to UConn I went along with seven other CVI students. I wrote to Ms. Tuitt regularly and kept her abreast of what was happening at UConn. She loved hearing from us and always took time to write me and the others back with advice – she was never too busy. At UConn, my roommate was a CVI student who also was participating in the program. We knew each other but had never interacted. The UConn experience changed that, and we became very close friends. Today, forty years later, Yvette deLaubanque and I are still great friends.

I remember the relationship I developed with Dr. Herbert Hoover, who was a professor of Education and my advisor. He took an interest in bringing out the best in his students and was indeed a genuine educator. His love for education and people was evident by the manner in which he prepared me and other students for a teaching career.

Another individual who made a difference in my life as a student and a professional was Mrs. Vitalia Wallace, associate dean and director of Student Affairs. After I left CVI and completed graduate studies at Howard University, Mrs. Wallace encouraged me to apply for a position at CVI. I was hired by President Lawrence Wanlass to serve as the assistant to the director of Student Affairs for Women. This is how I began my career in higher education – thanks to Mrs. Wallace. During my first week, I remember distinctly Mrs. Wallace taking me around to just about every office on campus. I got to know faculty, staff and administrators and felt re-connected immediately to CVI. She also took me to the Administrative Council meetings which were chaired by the president and attended by top level administrators. This was indeed a great learning experience that was made possible by Mrs. Wallace, who was a beautiful person and great mentor.

Doris Battiste - CVI Yearbook 1971
After a few years of working in that position, I became interested in pursuing post-graduate studies and went to Dr. Arthur Richards, then president, to request “leave with pay.” Well, Dr. Richards said he “would be setting precedence and couldn’t approve it,” but he promised to grant me leave without pay and to assist me in finding resources, and he did. He kept his promise. After receiving my doctorate degree from George Washington University, I was grateful for the opportunities afforded me by Dr. Orville Kean as president and the support that I received from both him and Dr. Ron Harrigan, vice president for Student Affairs.

My experience at CVI /UVI has been professionally rewarding and enriching. I have had some of the best times and met so many wonderful people who have made a difference in my life. So many persons went the extra mile to help me in my journey at CVI/UVI, and I am truly thankful.

Congratulations UVI on making 50 and may you continue to shine.

Dr. Doris Battiste is currently Dean of Students at UVI.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Judith Vanterpool Rogers – 1976

Judith Vanterpool Rogers
I was employed as a library student assistant on the St. Croix campus of the College of the Virgin Islands in the 1970s. Today, I manage both campus libraries at the University of the Virgin Islands. In the 1970s, I was pursuing the secretarial program and had no idea where life would take me. However, the nurturing and supportive senior staff members at CVI were more than willing to offer me a taste of a wide variety of experiences that helped to shape the professional I am today. All these years later, it is still the exemplary integrity, hard work and positive outlook of CVI/UVI mentors that continue to inspire and impact my career.

I credit Melba Biggs for deciding early on that I had potential for teaching, hiring me as tutor in the Upward Bound Program that she directed – an early introduction to the educator role that I have today. As a young student worker, I assisted in numerous academic registration processes in a variety of roles: either as cashier with Glen Lukey (how times have changed I don’t believe student workers are given cashier roles anymore); or as registrars student assistant with Dr. Ronald Harrigan and Juanita Woods. (We had a manual system for tracking closed courses, and for monitoring student placement test results that rivals anything SunGard Banner can produce today).

Dr. Henry Chang and Marjorie Masters gave me my first introduction to libraries and the critical role of librarians in life-long learning. Paying attention to detail, ensuring organization and orderliness of collections and processes, encouraging faculty involvement in collection development to support academic programs, and providing high quality customer service were all modeled so well by the library administrators, I knew I could do no less when I became campus librarian on St. Croix.

Judith Rogers - CVI 1976 Yearbook
I was also shaped by the superior academic quality of the student body, such as Debra Franklin Maragh and upper-class student JAda Finch-Sheen, and the love of learning portrayed by faculty such as Erika (Smilowitz) Waters, and later, Dr. Arnold Highfield. The family fun days with donkey races and BBQs, and Ideas and Issues discussions with renowned authors and civic leaders like Bayard Rustin ensured a fun and stimulating learning environment. Thus, when I completed my two-year secretarial program, continuing my undergraduate education was the automatic next step. After re-locating to complete my BA in psychology, and MLIS in library and information science, I grasped the first opportunity available to return to UVI as a librarian.

I am very delighted to share in UVI’s Golden Jubilee celebration of growth and service to the USVI community. It is rewarding to note that the UVI libraries have embraced and led in the institution’s transformation. Reshaping UVI librarian roles from emphasis on locally-housed collections to the learning commons user-focus, with access to resources worldwide, brings my professional experience full circle. Happy 50th UVI!

Judith V. Rogers is now the manager of both libraries at UVI.