I was saddened to hear of the passing of Chairman Emeritus Alexander Moorhead, who served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of the Virgin for 24 years and as Chairman for five years.
I was so blessed to start my Presidential journey at the University of the Virgin Islands when Alex Moorhead was Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He was a brilliant, thoughtful man who embraced a high standard of excellence. During my first meeting with him, after I was appointed, I asked him, “what do you need from me?” Instead of providing me with a long list of principles and tasks, he very calmly and thoughtfully responded, “I need for you to be successful.” There was nothing else for him to say or for me to hear. He contributed greatly to whatever success the University achieved during the early years of my presidency.
Our journey together as President and Chairman was productive, inspiring and meaningful. He was a leader but also a counselor. He was a boss and a champion. He cared about my family’s well-being and would ask about them often. I looked up to him both physically and intellectually. The two of us together were an unusual and intimidating sight for some.
Chairman Moorhead was the most meticulous person I ever worked with or for. We all learned very quickly that anything submitted to him for review and approval would be read thoroughly and any mistakes would be identified and suggested corrections provided. He took his role seriously and quietly forced others to do the same.
One of the most special moments of my tenure as president was to present Alexander Moorhead with an honorary degree of Humane Letters as part of the University’s Commencement Ceremony in 2021. It was not only a special moment to recognize his outstanding achievements in the public and private sectors, but to bestow a gift of appreciation upon him from the institution and from me. It was also a way to reconnect with the institution he loved and the man who poured so much of himself into the University in order for it to be successful.
Many people would often refer to his height and elegant stature. However, these were not his most distinctive qualities. Alexander Moorhead was an authentic statesman when very few existed. He was the embodiment of excellence in a world where mediocracy has sometimes been the norm. He asked questions to understand and not to condemn; he explored options not to demonstrate how smart he was but to encourage those around him to develop smart ideas. He was a man of few words because fountains of wisdom are not found in gushing streams but in reservoirs of still water.
I will miss this icon of leadership and service. He set a standard very few of us will ever meet. Virgin Islanders should be so proud of Alexander Moorhead. From this soil, he was born to pursue and embody excellence and service. During his walk on this earth, he exceeded his calling.
May the heavens where his soul dwells be blessed to have an angelic man who walked the earth and now resides in the midst of other angels. They must now watch carefully what they submit to God for review and approval because the standards have just been raised.