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UVI Board Ponders Problem of Declining Enrollment

Nov. 22, 2005 – Despite an increase in its number of full-time students, the University of the Virgin Islands has seen an overall drop in its enrollment, members of the UVI Board of Trustees were told at a general meeting, Saturday.
According to a release from the university, Mary Ann LaFleur, UVI's director of institutional research, told board members that for the first time the school has noticed an increase in the number of full-time students over part-time students, when comparing Fall 2004 enrollment to enrollment for Fall 2005.
Also for the first time, there are more part-time students enrolled on St. Croix than on St. Thomas, Lafleur said.
"UVI's student body is changing, shifting," La Fleur said.
Despite the increases, however; UVI Provost Al Hassan Musah said the university had a seven percent drop in overall enrollment when compared to last fall, the release stated.
"We need to know what's going on," board Chair Auguste E. Rimpel, Jr., said. "We need to be taking short-term actions and coming up with a comprehensive plan to take care of [enrollment] in the long term. It's a serious problem that we need to address."
Musah said he would continue to monitor the situation and look for ways to reverse the decline in enrollment.
The federal government in recent years has been cutting aid to needy students and it has also been making it more difficult for foreign students to get visas to attend UVI.
In other matters, the Board of Trustees also received a report from its Financial Committee.
Roy Jackson, Finance Committee chairman, told the board that UVI had received its total allotment of $27,598,070 from the V.I. Government for fiscal year 2005.
This represents a "significant improvement," Jackson said, adding it was the first time the university had received its total allotment from the government within the fiscal year.
The board also discussed a $2.5 million appropriation for salary increases of its employees that was approved by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull Oct. 17.
The newly formed Compensation Committee, which had been created to determine how to distribute the $2.5 million, gave the board an update of what it had accomplished so far.
Vincent Samuel, UVI vice president for Finance and Administration, reported that the Compensation Committee has developed draft guidelines for a compensation plan for fiscal year 2005-2006, the release stated.
If approved, the guidelines will be implemented to provide compensation adjustments and awards by January 2006, once the additional government allotment has been received.
The board also honored UVI President Emeritus Orville Kean with a proclamation and plaque, and was introduced to the new executive director of the Research and Technology Park, David M. Zumwalt.
UVI President LaVerne Ragster also introduced the newest members of her cabinet: Musah, St. Thomas Campus Executive Administrator John D'Orazio and Vice President of Information Technology Tina Koopmans.
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