After a career in education that spanned nearly four decades, 95-year-old Delta M. Jackson Dorsch smiled humbly during a dedication ceremony Thursday at UVI’s St. Croix campus, where the residence hall complex was named in her honor.
The ceremony began at 11 a.m. at the newly named Delta M. Jackson Dorsch Complex, where friends, family, colleagues, and government officials gathered to pay tribute to Dorsch for her tireless dedication to V.I. education.
Born in Frederiksted in 1915, Dorsch was among the first generation of St. Croix women to earn a high school degree. She then went on to get her bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University, and then graduate and post-graduate degrees in School Administration from New York University and Columbia University, respectively.
She worked for 38 years as both a teacher in the V.I. school system and as an instructor of Elementary Education in both undergraduate and graduate programs at UVI’s St. Croix campus.
Additionally, Dorsch served as the deputy commissioner for curriculum in the V.I. Department of Education from 1977-1982, and as chairman of the board at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal School.
UVI President David Hall formally thanked Dorsch for the profound impact she’s had on education in the Virgin Islands, and in St. Croix. He also explained the importance of having her name on the complex, and its implications for future leaders in education.
“It is important to know that there are individuals that preceded them—they will know when they see her name that someone, who labored hard, had such a profound impact,” he said.
Later, Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis told the crowd that he was amazed at Dorsch’s humility, which he remarked, has always been there, adding that she never sought any attention for her accomplishments.
After the singing of the UVI alma mater, which brought some members of the crowd to tears, the sign was unveiled and cheers erupted as Dorsch moved to the front of the crowd. Unfortunately, she was unable to speak because she had a cold, and instead asked her niece and caretaker, Claire Roker, to speak on her behalf.
Roker explained how proud Dorsch is of UVI’s diversity and then remarked on her selflessness in her devotion to education.
“Education has always been number one for her,” she said.
Although Dorsch has been retired for 23 years, she is still regularly called upon to share stories and cultural experiences of her life on the island. Considered one of the island’s most influential storytellers, Dorsch even published a book, “The Role of the Storyteller in the Preservation of the Virgin Islands Culture,” with an accompanying video.
V.I. author George Franklin said that Dorsch, who was an advisor on a grant he received from the National Endowment for the Humanities, personally helped him get his book, “A Bunch Ah Real Jumbie Stories, Meh Son,” published.
Following the ceremony, a reception was held in the pavilion, where guests enjoyed a holiday meal.