UVI Trustees Vote to Allow Chairman to Conclude Negotiations with Hall

The University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees on Friday upheld an earlier decision allowing board chairman Alexander Moorhead to negotiate and execute current UVI President David Hall’s second term contract.

The board reaffirmed decisions it made in its Nov. 11 meeting, which was a continuation of its Oct. 26 meeting. In it, the board authorized Moorhead to conclude the negotiations "on substantially the same terms as those contained in a draft Employment Agreement proposed by the Executive Committee."

Moorhead said the action did not give him unlimited authority to conduct the negotiations, but only within the context of the parameters already outlined.

The voting took place in executive session, with 12 yes votes and one member, Oswin Sewer, abstaining.

The brief Friday special session, which consisted mostly of the executive session, was held partly to dispel concerns that the unannounced Nov. 11 meeting, a continuation of the recessed Oct. 26 meeting, might have violated the Virgin Islands Sunshine Law. The board’s Oct. 26 meeting ended during an executive session discussion. Members at that time voted to recess until Nov. 11 due to inadequate time for discussion of Hall’s contract.

The Nov. 11 continuation was unannounced. According to Moorhead, the board met “to address the subject of a draft contract.” It eventually voted to authorize Moorhead to negotiate and execute a final contract with Hall, with trustees Gwendolyn Adam-Norton, Luz Suarez Highfield, Carol Fulp, Moorhead, Jennifer Nugent-Hill, Henry Smock, Edward Thomas, Teresa Turner and Wesley Williams in favor. Sewer, Patricia Steele, Yvonne Thraen and Sinclair Wilkinson voted against, while Joshua Edwards, Donna Frett-Gregory and Jacqueline Sprauve abstained.

In a prepared statement, Moorhead said under the territory’s Sunshine Law, the board can continue a meeting without giving public notice as long the continuation is within 30 days of the initial meeting.

"I requested the university’s legal counsel, Hall and Griffith, P.C., to review the matter," he said. “Based on the response of legal counsel, I am satisfied that it was a lawful meeting … I believe the board acted correctly and within the law, in contenting to meet in executive session on Nov. 11.”

Moorhead added that “in an abundance of caution,” he would not start negotiations nor execute a contract until the board reaffirms the resolutions passed in the Oct. 26 meeting and the questioned Nov. 11 continuation.

Details surrounding the negotiations of Hall’s contract, which expires July 31, 2014, have been kept behind closed doors. Moorhead explained that the Board chose to discuss the proposed contract in executive session, with Hall absent, "primarily in recognition that premature disclosure of that discussion could seriously frustrate implementation of the proposed action."

Hall, as UVI president, is an ex officio member of the board, but he did not attend the Nov. 11 meeting at which his contract was discussed in executive session.

Details of the new contract, including Hall’s compensation, will be revealed once the contract has been executed, the public relations statement added.

Present Friday in the ACC Building at UVI’s St. Campus campus were trustees Edwards, Wilkinson, Thomas and Turner. Attending via telephone were Moorhead, Smock, Nugent-Hill, Fulp, Steele, Williams, Sewer, and Sprauve. Hall, Adam-Norton, Suarez Highfield and Frett-Gregory were excused.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited from a version posted earlier on this site, adding detail and clarifying certain issues. The Source regrets any errors.

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