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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, August 19, 2022
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UVI Enrollment Falls But Tuition To Stay The Same

The University of the Virgin Islands’ enrollment declined this year, but trustees agreed Saturday to hold tuition at the current level and raise more money.

At a meeting on the St. Croix campus, trustees also learned what the administration is doing to retain students, approved several items and retreated into a four-hour executive session.

Even before the trustees discussed the enrollment figures, Edward Thomas, UVI Finance and Budget Committee chairman, asked them to cap the tuition at its current rate, citing the economy and the desire to stay competitive. The vote was unanimous in favor of the freeze.

The enrollment numbers were presented by Interim Provost Camille McKayle who said the university lost four percent or 105 students this year with total enrollment for both campuses at 2,350.

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Sixty students left the St. Thomas campus while 45 fewer students enlisted at UVI on St. Croix. The number of graduate students is down on St. Thomas but up on St. Croix, she said.

McKayle said the retention rate of freshmen students is almost 70 percent, but by the beginning of the next year only 47 percent return as sophomores. By graduation, the retention rate is 32 and 37 percent for six-year and eight year students respectively, she said. The average student age is 27.

On the positive side of that key performance indicator, SAT scores were up 52 points and 122 transfer students enrolled in UVI this year, an increase of 53 percent.

“If I were to make any assumptions, it is that we are becoming a little bit more attractive to those who are off-island or those who want to return to the islands,” McKayle said.

University President David Hall and McKayle discussed some of the methods to retain students from year to year. Hall said the summer programs for high school and college students including Junior University, the Entrepreneurial Business Institute, University Bound, 4-H and science and math workshops sharpen students’ learning skills.

High level technology in the classrooms helps retain students, McKayle said, and tutoring is part of math classes to help students pass.

More than 1,000 freshmen and sophomores work with tutors and counselors, she said, and there is an “early warning system” for freshmen who fail their first exam. In the future, the university would like to implement a Master’s teaching program that should attract education students who want to be superior teachers, she said.

According to McKayle, the main reasons students leave UVI are academic and financial and some leave because the college doesn’t have the major they want.

“Or one leads to another,” she said. The university offers some financial aid if federal grants are not available. Hall added that some students just “don’t have what it takes,” to finish college.

Hall congratulated trustees and staff for a record giving rate among alumni. He pointed out that alumni contributions set a record within Historically Black Colleges and Universities and overall UVI has one of the highest rates in the nation.

“I am proud to proclaim that UVI has made history. We are the first Historically Black College or University to reach the level of 51.7 contribution from our alumni,” Hall said. Last year the alumni donation rate was 42 percent.

Alexander Moorhead, chairman of the board, welcomed new trustee Joshua Edwards, Donna Frett-Gregory, Gwendolyn Adams Norton, Jacqueline Sprauve and Teresa Turner.

Other items for board approval included renaming the Committee on Trustees to the Governance Committee to “add to the acceptable way boards of trustees should be managed,” said Jennifer Nugent-Hill, chairperson.

The Development Committee’s Wesley Williams, Jr. asked for and received approval to set a fundraising goal 15 percent higher than 2013, to include $3 million in cash donations. He said the goal is $500,000 more than last year’s goal.

During the meeting, Moorhead, speaking on behalf of the Executive Committee, asked board approval for an application by the VI Small Business Development Center for a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update videoconferencing equipment on St. Thomas and St. Croix. The board approved.

Hall proudly cited statistics indicating the university scored in the top 97 percent of 700 similar institutions world-wide in Collegiate Learning Assessments student scores. The test rates students’ problem solving, critical thinking, scientific and quantitative reasoning. In the last four years, UVI has rated in the top 97-99 percent.

Hall also told the board the university has signed a solar energy agreement and will begin construction as soon as possible and that classroom renovations have taken place on both campuses.

According to Tamika Thomas Williams, UVI public relations specialist, during the executive session trustees discussed personnel and legal issues, a medical school, a survey of high school students, the Research and Technology Park and other subjects. The session will continue via teleconference, she said, and results will be released by UVI.

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The University of the Virgin Islands’ enrollment declined this year, but trustees agreed Saturday to hold tuition at the current level and raise more money.

At a meeting on the St. Croix campus, trustees also learned what the administration is doing to retain students, approved several items and retreated into a four-hour executive session.

Even before the trustees discussed the enrollment figures, Edward Thomas, UVI Finance and Budget Committee chairman, asked them to cap the tuition at its current rate, citing the economy and the desire to stay competitive. The vote was unanimous in favor of the freeze.

The enrollment numbers were presented by Interim Provost Camille McKayle who said the university lost four percent or 105 students this year with total enrollment for both campuses at 2,350.

Sixty students left the St. Thomas campus while 45 fewer students enlisted at UVI on St. Croix. The number of graduate students is down on St. Thomas but up on St. Croix, she said.

McKayle said the retention rate of freshmen students is almost 70 percent, but by the beginning of the next year only 47 percent return as sophomores. By graduation, the retention rate is 32 and 37 percent for six-year and eight year students respectively, she said. The average student age is 27.

On the positive side of that key performance indicator, SAT scores were up 52 points and 122 transfer students enrolled in UVI this year, an increase of 53 percent.

“If I were to make any assumptions, it is that we are becoming a little bit more attractive to those who are off-island or those who want to return to the islands,” McKayle said.

University President David Hall and McKayle discussed some of the methods to retain students from year to year. Hall said the summer programs for high school and college students including Junior University, the Entrepreneurial Business Institute, University Bound, 4-H and science and math workshops sharpen students’ learning skills.

High level technology in the classrooms helps retain students, McKayle said, and tutoring is part of math classes to help students pass.

More than 1,000 freshmen and sophomores work with tutors and counselors, she said, and there is an “early warning system” for freshmen who fail their first exam. In the future, the university would like to implement a Master’s teaching program that should attract education students who want to be superior teachers, she said.

According to McKayle, the main reasons students leave UVI are academic and financial and some leave because the college doesn’t have the major they want.

“Or one leads to another,” she said. The university offers some financial aid if federal grants are not available. Hall added that some students just “don’t have what it takes,” to finish college.

Hall congratulated trustees and staff for a record giving rate among alumni. He pointed out that alumni contributions set a record within Historically Black Colleges and Universities and overall UVI has one of the highest rates in the nation.

“I am proud to proclaim that UVI has made history. We are the first Historically Black College or University to reach the level of 51.7 contribution from our alumni,” Hall said. Last year the alumni donation rate was 42 percent.

Alexander Moorhead, chairman of the board, welcomed new trustee Joshua Edwards, Donna Frett-Gregory, Gwendolyn Adams Norton, Jacqueline Sprauve and Teresa Turner.

Other items for board approval included renaming the Committee on Trustees to the Governance Committee to “add to the acceptable way boards of trustees should be managed,” said Jennifer Nugent-Hill, chairperson.

The Development Committee’s Wesley Williams, Jr. asked for and received approval to set a fundraising goal 15 percent higher than 2013, to include $3 million in cash donations. He said the goal is $500,000 more than last year’s goal.

During the meeting, Moorhead, speaking on behalf of the Executive Committee, asked board approval for an application by the VI Small Business Development Center for a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update videoconferencing equipment on St. Thomas and St. Croix. The board approved.

Hall proudly cited statistics indicating the university scored in the top 97 percent of 700 similar institutions world-wide in Collegiate Learning Assessments student scores. The test rates students’ problem solving, critical thinking, scientific and quantitative reasoning. In the last four years, UVI has rated in the top 97-99 percent.

Hall also told the board the university has signed a solar energy agreement and will begin construction as soon as possible and that classroom renovations have taken place on both campuses.

According to Tamika Thomas Williams, UVI public relations specialist, during the executive session trustees discussed personnel and legal issues, a medical school, a survey of high school students, the Research and Technology Park and other subjects. The session will continue via teleconference, she said, and results will be released by UVI.