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.

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