More than 250 well-dressed University of the Virgin Islands students, and their proud parents, filled the house at the Reichhold Center for the Arts on Sunday for the university’s fifth annual dean’s list reception.
“We appreciate what you do day in and day out,” said UVI Provost Camille McKayle-Stolz to the students. “It is for that reason we are proud. We know that not everyone who works as hard as you do achieves what you will have achieved. We hold you up so that all see what is possible and all can set their goals high.”
Each year, the dean’s list reception recognizes students who earn a grade point average of 3.2 and above, either for the spring or fall semester of the previous academic year, or both. Deans of UVI’s different schools and colleges were present to hand out the certificates.
During the ceremony, students also took the “pledge to pursue excellence,” a promise to not only continue their journey of excellence but to also inspire and help other students to do the same.
The dean’s list reception began when UVI President David Hall took leadership of the university. According to Hall, some representatives of the UVI Student Government Association brought to his attention how those on the dean’s list were not recognized in the most appropriate manner.
“Because of their advocacy, we have created this reception, and it has grown and become more excellent in five years,” said Hall, reminiscing on the earlier years of the dean’s list reception. “I remember the first one that we had in this building, and we had maybe half or a third of what we have here now.”
The students took notice of the university’s effort, not only of the awarding of certificates, but also of the preceding meet-and-greet with Hall and other UVI officials, as well as the catered hors d’oeuvres and live music by the UVI Jazz Ensemble.
“I think it’s great the university is making a big deal out of something like the dean’s list,” said English major Elesha Hazel, who was on the list for both the spring and fall semesters.
According to Hazel, before the annual reception was created, those on the dean’s list would only either get an email or a letter of congratulations from the university.
“Now I feel a new sense of pride in getting on the dean’s list because I can actually see something beyond the list itself,” Hazel said. “I see that all our hard work is taken seriously and recognized.”
The theme for the 2014 ceremony was “Celebrating Excellence” and, according to Hall, excellence is more than just something that is achieved.
“Excellence, especially academic excellence is a value and a spirit,” Hall told the students. “It is something that you really have to embrace, something inside of you that motivates you to work when others are not working. It motivates you to go beyond what the professor has asked you to do, but to do what you know you need to do.”
For students, the benefits of UVI’s annual dean’s list reception continue long after the speeches are done and the last hands are shaken on stage.
“It may not seem like much to some, but it is a form of encouragement that goes a long way,” Hazel said.