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UVI Board Members Question Tech Park's Impact on University

Nov. 4, 2007 — Updates on the UVI Research & Technology Park and the recent technology failures at the university campuses were key topics discussed at the UVI Board of Trustees meeting on Saturday.
Earlier this year, the tech park on the St. Croix campus sought a loan from the Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service for $4.7 million dollars, according to the park’s executive director David M. Zumwalt.
Although board members voted unanimously at the last meeting on June 24 to authorize the university to lease or pledge 93 acres of land on St. Croix for the development of the park, some of them questioned whether the decision would affect the university in any way. At the meeting, a resolution was requested to authorize UVI President Laverne Ragster to mortgage a St. Croix parcel for the loan.
One stipulation of the loan is to provide collateral of the same amount to secure the monies sought. The site of interest, which is located at 12 Golden Grove, was initially conveyed to the university by the V.I. government for the sole purpose of creating the tech park, board member and attorney Samuel Hall said.
Board member Wesley Samuel Williams questioned whether Ragster was “fully informed” as to the financial projections if the land is leased, or if the university could get “in danger” should the tech park fail to repay the loan.
Hall replied that at most, loss of property would be the most at stake should the tech park fail to repay the loan. The university would not be obligated in any way to repay the monies, he added.
“How does it affect the university’s bottom line?” asked board member Henry C. Smock, in reference to the university’s bonding or borrowing capacity, should the land be foreclosed.
After ongoing discussion, board member Roy D. Jackson finally disclosed that leasing of the land does in fact reduce the university’s “asset structure.”
By telephone, board member Bernard Paiewonsky questioned if the park was prepared to service the loan’s interest in the first year. Zumwalt replied that some monies would be repaid, although it was unlikely that it would be the full amount.
Another questioned posed by Williams was how the tech park would produce income. Board chair August E. Rimpel reported that the park is currently working with two companies on memorandums of understanding. He added that it is intended for the organization to be a “self-sufficient entity,” expecting to generate its own finances. The resolution was unanimously passed by a majority of the board members.
Ragster spoke of the “serious challenges” the university had been facing “with respect to technology” in the last week due to a lighting strike that hit its system. Chief Information Officer Tina Koopman then provided an update on the failed system. Koopman reported a loss in internal systems due to a lighting strike, which affected the telephone and Internet service on the St. Thomas campus.
She reported that the Information Technology Services (ITS), the department in charge of UVI technology, is working towards implementing new equipment to lessen the number of system failures. Recent updates to the systems also played some part in the technology failure, she said.
Responding to a need for a backup system, ITS is installing two separate databases, one at the Administration and Conference Center and another at the Penha house, located at the entrance of the St. Thomas campus. Furthermore, updating their system will also allow either campus, St. Thomas or St. Croix, to connect to the other’s system, should one fail.
Following a question by board member Juanita Woods on what is done when students miss class as a result of technology failure, Koopman replied that her department met with students to alleviate the situation, adding funding to their printing accounts. The department is expected to provide internet service in the university dorms for the upcoming semester at no charge to the students.
Also on the agenda was the approval of the fiscal year 2009 operational budget and appropriation request. Although no decision was made, board members, including Ragster, brought up the need to have more input in the budgeting process.
UVI Director of Institutional Research Dr. Mary Ann La Fleur gave an update on key performance indicators, including staff and faculty profiles, annual giving and dormitory occupancy rates, which have increased.
Mussah also discussed two graduate programs at the university, a Master's of Science in Marine and Environmental Science and a Master's of Arts in Mathematics for teachers of secondary educators, which he reported have been doing very well with the math graduate students, many graduating ahead of schedule. Following a demand for more graduate programs, Mussah said that they are in the works, although financial constraints play a big part in the unveiling of more programs.
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Nov. 4, 2007 -- Updates on the UVI Research & Technology Park and the recent technology failures at the university campuses were key topics discussed at the UVI Board of Trustees meeting on Saturday.
Earlier this year, the tech park on the St. Croix campus sought a loan from the Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service for $4.7 million dollars, according to the park’s executive director David M. Zumwalt.
Although board members voted unanimously at the last meeting on June 24 to authorize the university to lease or pledge 93 acres of land on St. Croix for the development of the park, some of them questioned whether the decision would affect the university in any way. At the meeting, a resolution was requested to authorize UVI President Laverne Ragster to mortgage a St. Croix parcel for the loan.
One stipulation of the loan is to provide collateral of the same amount to secure the monies sought. The site of interest, which is located at 12 Golden Grove, was initially conveyed to the university by the V.I. government for the sole purpose of creating the tech park, board member and attorney Samuel Hall said.
Board member Wesley Samuel Williams questioned whether Ragster was “fully informed” as to the financial projections if the land is leased, or if the university could get “in danger” should the tech park fail to repay the loan.
Hall replied that at most, loss of property would be the most at stake should the tech park fail to repay the loan. The university would not be obligated in any way to repay the monies, he added.
“How does it affect the university’s bottom line?” asked board member Henry C. Smock, in reference to the university’s bonding or borrowing capacity, should the land be foreclosed.
After ongoing discussion, board member Roy D. Jackson finally disclosed that leasing of the land does in fact reduce the university’s “asset structure.”
By telephone, board member Bernard Paiewonsky questioned if the park was prepared to service the loan’s interest in the first year. Zumwalt replied that some monies would be repaid, although it was unlikely that it would be the full amount.
Another questioned posed by Williams was how the tech park would produce income. Board chair August E. Rimpel reported that the park is currently working with two companies on memorandums of understanding. He added that it is intended for the organization to be a “self-sufficient entity,” expecting to generate its own finances. The resolution was unanimously passed by a majority of the board members.
Ragster spoke of the “serious challenges” the university had been facing “with respect to technology” in the last week due to a lighting strike that hit its system. Chief Information Officer Tina Koopman then provided an update on the failed system. Koopman reported a loss in internal systems due to a lighting strike, which affected the telephone and Internet service on the St. Thomas campus.
She reported that the Information Technology Services (ITS), the department in charge of UVI technology, is working towards implementing new equipment to lessen the number of system failures. Recent updates to the systems also played some part in the technology failure, she said.
Responding to a need for a backup system, ITS is installing two separate databases, one at the Administration and Conference Center and another at the Penha house, located at the entrance of the St. Thomas campus. Furthermore, updating their system will also allow either campus, St. Thomas or St. Croix, to connect to the other’s system, should one fail.
Following a question by board member Juanita Woods on what is done when students miss class as a result of technology failure, Koopman replied that her department met with students to alleviate the situation, adding funding to their printing accounts. The department is expected to provide internet service in the university dorms for the upcoming semester at no charge to the students.
Also on the agenda was the approval of the fiscal year 2009 operational budget and appropriation request. Although no decision was made, board members, including Ragster, brought up the need to have more input in the budgeting process.
UVI Director of Institutional Research Dr. Mary Ann La Fleur gave an update on key performance indicators, including staff and faculty profiles, annual giving and dormitory occupancy rates, which have increased.
Mussah also discussed two graduate programs at the university, a Master's of Science in Marine and Environmental Science and a Master's of Arts in Mathematics for teachers of secondary educators, which he reported have been doing very well with the math graduate students, many graduating ahead of schedule. Following a demand for more graduate programs, Mussah said that they are in the works, although financial constraints play a big part in the unveiling of more programs.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.