The University of the Virgin Islands mourns the passing of Prof. Emerita Dr. Pearl Ianthe Varlack. She died on April 12, in New York. The long-time UVI employee began her career at the then College of the Virgin Islands in 1968 as a research assistant in the Caribbean Research Institute. Shortly thereafter, she joined the faculty of the Division of Education as an assistant professor of elementary education, where she also served as chair of the division intermittently for 10 years. Her tenure at UVI spanned 31 years until her retirement in 1999. Following her retirement, Prof. Varlack was bestowed professor emerita status.
At UVI, Varlack served with three presidential administrations. UVI leaders often relied on her skills in curriculum design, development and higher education. Among other things, she is credited with spearheading the curriculum review of the undergraduate and graduate programs, which resulted in the development of the Certificate Program in Early Childhood Education. She also developed a model syllabus for use by all UVI faculty members; developed the Curriculum Committee outline model for new courses; organized and coordinated faculty development activities; coordinated the Academic Program Review process; and participated in the assessment of overseas programs. Dr. Varlack, an accomplished author, also wrote several books and manuscripts. Prior to joining UVI, she served as an educator in Anegada and Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
UVI President David Hall expressed his condolences to her family. “If it comes as any comfort at all, please know that we feel your loss as deeply as you; Dr. Varlack was a valued member of the UVI family, and we appreciate having had an opportunity to benefit from her knowledge, leadership and service for 31 years,” President Hall said in a letter to Dr. Varlack's brother, Hugh Varlack. “We will miss Dr. Varlack and cherish all the happy memories we had with her. She was a standard bearer of excellence and integrity for the University of the Virgin Islands," Dr. Hall said.
Dr. Linda Thomas, interim dean of UVI's School of Education, said Dr. Varlack raised the bar in the School of Education. “Her standards were always high. Excellence is what she advocated; and she demanded that from her students,” said Dr. Thomas, who was taught by Dr. Varlack in grade school in Anegada, and again as both an undergraduate and graduate student at UVI. Although retired, Dr. Varlack was always on campus, Dr. Thomas noted. “She really never gave up on the university or the School of Education.” UVI Professor of Education Dr. Rita Howard, who was also taught by Dr. Varlack, said Varlack was not only a professor, colleague and friend – but also a consummate professional. “Dr. Varlack’s work always carried with it an insignia of excellence – whether she was teaching a class, chairing a thesis project, leading a meeting, chairing a committee, preparing a response, writing a report or making a presentation. If ever a faculty served with distinction, it was Pearl Varlack,” Dr. Howard said.
“She was my mentor. She took me under her wings, showed me how things worked and opened many doors for me,” Dr. Howard said. “It is on her shoulders I stood throughout most of my professional journey. She taught me what I know in higher education both directly and through her modeling,” Dr. Howard continued. “I will be forever grateful for her guidance, high expectations and unwavering support throughout the years. I have lost someone dear to me.”
Dr. Varlack earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education with a minor in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Inter-American University, a Professional Certificate in Education from the University of the West Indies and a Teachers Diploma - First Class from Erdiston College in Barbados.