Oct. 9, 2003 – The University of the Virgin Islands will receive a donation of $335,000 for science education from S. Donald Sussman, the chair of Trust Asset Management LLP, a global investment management services company on St. Thomas.
The gift, to be given in installments over three years, will support a science and mathematics research and education program at UVI and is expected to make possible much greater funding from the National Science Foundation.
Sussman's donation will serve as the local funding match required to secure the four-to-one NSF matching grant for UVI's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, commonly known as EPSCoR. The university's EPSCoR proposal has been recommended for approval by an NSF review panel, according to a UVI release.
All told, assuming that the NSF grant receives final approval, the funding is expected to total $1.3 million, UVI officials said.
A man can be admired for his success, but he can be admired even more for his concern for his fellow man, UVI Provost Gwen-Marie Moolenaar said in commending Sussman for his generosity on Thursday at a press conference in the UVI Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas. "It's an investment in the entire community through the university," she said.
For his part, Sussman, a St. John resident, said he was "thrilled to give this gift," adding his pleasure that "my money is being matched four to one by the federal government."
The university's proposed EPSCoR project is aimed at improving science and math research and education for kindergarten through 12th grade throughout the territory.
Henry Smith, UVI vice provost for Research and Public Service and EPSCoR project director, said of Sussman: "This is a man that knows how to make an investment."
And, Smith said, "This grant will help us to bring more grants." It is important to demonstrate that there is local community support for EPSCoR, he said.
Nationally, EPSCoR's goal is "to maximize the potential inherent in a jurisdiction's science and technology resources and to use those resources as a foundation for economic growth," according to a UVI press release.
Sussman acknowledged that "the public school system needs a lot of help." He added: "Improving basic science education for all students is vital to the future of the Virgin Islands. I'm very pleased to be part of this thoughtful program developed by the University of the Virgin Islands."
The benefits to the community will be represented in a trickle-down effect, Camille McKayle, UVI assistant professor of mathematics, said.
"I hope it has a big impact on the youth in terms of science and math," Robert Stolz, also an assistant professor of mathematics, said of the project.
The specifics of how the money will be utilized have not been determined, but Smith presented a possible scenario of how the project would benefit the community: Additional programs would be implemented and additional faculty would be hired to focus on the marine environment or coral reefs, and students at UVI and in the public schools would benefit from their expertise.
Strengthening an institution's faculty in turn strengthens the possibilities of applying for further grants, Smith said. "This grant from NSF will extend for a period of four years, and then we will have to apply for another," he said.
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