Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Stormy Weather: UVI Rallies to Stabilize Academic Year; Hurricane Compounds Dismal Fiscal Portfolio

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Stormy Weather: UVI Rallies to Stabilize Academic Year; Hurricane Compounds Dismal Fiscal Portfolio

Article excerpt

Stormy Weather: UVI Rallies to Stabilize Academic Year; Hurricane. Compounds Dismal Fiscal Portfolio

ST. THOMAS, VI -- On the morning of September 16, after Hurricane Marilyn scraped across St. Croix and scoured St. Thomas, nearly half of the buildings on both campuses met the dawn roofless.

Now, as the 33-year-old institution ends its first month of recovery, the administration, faculty and staff are rallying to salvage the academic year.

"Both campuses will have a much better and more useful infrastructure as a result of this crisis," said UVI President Orville Kean. "In the long term, the university on both campuses will not only be less prone to hurricane damage,but also will serve the students, faculty and community much better than is currently the case."

A Crippled Campus

But a full recovery will not only take time,but plenty of money. Kean estimates storm damage from Marilyn to be more than $25 million, greater than the price tag attached to damage sustained in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo touched down on the island.

On the crippled St. Thomas campus, Kean said he is looking forward to a renaissance that would bring some facilities up to building code and totally replace others. A World War II barracks, part of the original campus, will likely be the first structure to be removed.

In August, the St. Croix campus broke ground for the construction of its first residence hall, but storm damage forced a delay in its completion. Plans to launch a new sports and fitness center on St. Thomas in early September were also scrapped when the hurricane hit, said university officials.

For now, the university is looking to insurance premiums, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and other federal agencies to help them recover.

"In its brief history, the University of the Virgin Islands has already trained many who are making wise decisions for the Virgin Islands, the region and the world. We may have taken a substantial blow from this storm, but we have every intention of continuing on our mission," Kean said.

UVI classes on both campuses were suspended for one day in September because of the hurricane. Classes on the St. Croix campus resumed in early October. The target date for restart of classes on the main campus in St. Thomas campus is scheduled for Nov. 6 if electrical power on the island resumes and public curfews are lifted.

UVI is the only historically Black university located outside the continental U.S. The institution was founded as the College of the Virgin Islands in March 1962, and its liberal arts curriculum is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. …

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