Pearl Ianthe Varlack, a former professor and longtime member of the University of the Virgin Islands community, and a native of the British Virgin Islands, died April 12 in New York after a brief illness. She was 79 years old.
“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," UVI President David Hall said in a press release issued Friday.
Born in Anegada, she began her education career in Anegada and Tortola. In 1968, she joined what was then the College of the Virgin Islands as a research assistant in the Caribbean Research Institute. Shortly thereafter, she joined the faculty of the Education Division as an assistant professor of elementary education, where she also served intermittently as chair of the division for 10 years.
Her tenure at UVI spanned 31 years until her retirement in 1999. Following her retirement, Varlack was given professor emerita status.
At UVI, leaders often relied on her skills in curriculum design, development and higher education, according to the UVI report. Among other things, Varlack 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.
Varlack also wrote books and manuscripts. With Norwell Harrigan, she co-authored “The Virgins: A Descriptive and Historical Profile,” “The Virgin Islands Story” and “Ye Islands of Enchantment.” Varlack wrote many other articles on Virgin Islands history and a publication on teacher education, “Beyond the Carbon Copy.”
According to the BVI online news service Virgin Islands News Online, www.virginislandsnewsonline.com, Varlack was one of the early members of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College’s board of governors.
In 2002, she received the BVI Badge of Honor. She was also elected fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.
Linda Thomas, interim dean of UVI’s School of Education, said 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 Thomas, who was taught by Varlack in grade school in Anegada and again as both an undergraduate and graduate student at UVI.
UVI Professor of Education Rita Howard called Varlack a mentor, colleague and friend and 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 member served with distinction, it was Pearl Varlack,” Howard said.
Varlack earned a doctorate in higher education from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s in education administration from Inter American University, a professional certificate in education from the University of the West Indies, and a teacher’s diploma from Erdiston College in Barbados. V.I News Online indicated she graduated from the St. Kitts/Nevis Girls High School.
Funeral services are scheduled for Tuesday in New York, with a memorial service in the BVI planned for a later date.