UVI endorses degrees in dance, musical and theater performance, aquaponics, and horticulture; Updated Covid Policy

The University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees at its regular quarterly meeting on Saturday voted to establish a Bachelor of Science program in Aquaponics and a Bachelor of Science program in Horticulture. The board also voted unanimously to approve a new major university degree in dance, musical performance and theatre.

UVI says the bThe Bachelor of Science in Horticulture program is designed to provide students interested in horticulture with the knowledge required to support their interests and career goals. Horticulture is a growing job field with a 14% increase in 2022. Students will be required to complete 120 credit hours plus two physical education credits, including general education courses, UVI said. Fifty-five credit hours in required horticulture courses, including plant pathology, general horticulture, and tropical horticulture, and eight credit hours in horticulture electives, including tropical agroecology, forest and nursery management and special subjects in agricultural research and entomology are required.

The higher education institution said that aquaponics is an emerging and evolving industry with an estimated market of $1.5 billion in 2022. The Bachelor of Science in Aquaponics program is designed to provide students with in-depth knowledge and understanding in different disciplines to support their interests and career goals. Students will be required to complete 120 credit hours plus two physical education credits, including general education courses. It also takes 50 credit hours in required aquaponics courses, including aquaculture production, aquaculture techniques, hydroponics and aquaponics, and nine credits in elective aquaponics courses, including the introduction to biotechnology, agricultural regulations and the principles of agricultural business.

Regarding the major in Dance, Music Performance and Drama, UVI has stated that the major is a performance-based degree aimed at creating skilled performers and technicians who will be critical to the overall success of artistic endeavors in the territory and beyond, UVI said. Students will take 48 hours of general education courses to allow for more performance-based courses in majors.

At the meeting, the board approved a change to the admissions policy for international students whose primary language is not English. The amendment allows for an intermediate threshold for Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores for non-English speaking students and requires students to be enrolled in foundational English skills courses while simultaneously being enrolled in existing courses in English. English as a second. Language (ESL) based on student TOEFL scores, placement scores, and guidance from the Center for Student Success. This policy change will not affect local students or students attending UVI through partnerships with other Eastern Caribbean countries.

During the executive session, the board approved a revised vaccination policy that allows for a testing protocol to override the vaccination requirement for unvaccinated students. In taking the decision, the UVI said the council had considered improving sanitary conditions in the territory and transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic phase of Covid-19.

With the policy changes, unvaccinated students can attend in-person classes and participate in other campus activities. However, to live in halls of residence, students must still be vaccinated. Unvaccinated students who wish to take in-person classes will be required to undergo periodic testing, the regularity of the test will be determined based on an agreement between the UVI administration and the Ministry of Health, UVI said. It is expected that testing will initially take place twice a month, but will be reduced to once a month as conditions continue to improve.

This testing exception does not apply to employees, although they are encouraged to be tested where appropriate, according to UVI. In addition to vaccinations and testing, all students and employees are encouraged to continue to take precautions and use masks, social distancing and sanitation measures.

The Board also approved a new posthumous degree award policy created to establish the minimum standard criteria and procedures under which posthumous degrees and memoriam may be recommended to the UVI President and Board of Directors. UVI said the policy is for students who die before they have completed all of their degree requirements and recognized their academic achievements or connection to the university.

In other actions, the board unanimously re-elected Henry Smock as President and Oran Roebuck as Vice President.

“I thank all the directors for their confidence in me and in Director Roebuck. We have a lot to do, today and to come. I appreciate the trust,” said board chairman Henry Smock.

During the President’s Report, UVI President David Hall highlighted the achievements of UVI students and faculty as well as various academic initiatives. As is customary at Board meetings, Mr. Hall presented the President’s Appreciation Award in recognition of excellence and commitment to UVI employees or units who have achieved outstanding performance over the last quarter.

This quarter’s award was presented to the launch committees, led by Nereida Washington, associate vice president of operations and business services – St. Croix; Gail Steele, Board Liaison, and Una Dyer, Director of Presidential Operations, who were responsible for producing the 2022 launch ceremonies. “For the first time since 2018, we held in-person ceremonies and it was a wonderful achievement,” Hall said.

Additionally, the UVI President presented a second President’s Appreciation Award to Vice President of Evaluation and Institutional Information Services, Sharlene Harris and V. Veda Richards, Associate Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development/Director of Benefits and Immigration Services, for their work and creativity in leading the planning and implementation of the University’s Employee Wellness Day initiative.

“The Wellness Days were a much-needed recovery for employees that helped improve the morale and collaborative engagement of those who participated,” he said. “The exceptional leadership of Vice President Harris and Associate Director Richards has been essential in ensuring that health and well-being remains a priority for our employees.”

Also at Saturday’s meeting, Board Trustee Erica Johnson Creamer, Chair of the Governance Committee, presented the results of the Board’s 2021-2022 Self-Assessment. “Overall, the results of the assessment indicated that we have a very strong body, working effectively and efficiently to perform its duties and in a manner accountable to the University and the people of the Virgin Islands,” the administrator said. Creamer, who provided a summary of the annual evaluation report. .

Board Chairman Smock reported that during the executive session, the board approved and received reports and updates on the following:

  1. Approved Executive Session Minutes of the March 5, 2022 Board Meeting

  2. Received a report from Dr. Hall regarding vaccination policy and approved a revised policy

  3. Received a report from the Academic Research and Student Affairs Committee and approved tenure of eligible faculty members

  4. Received a report from the Finance and Budget Committee

  5. Received an update on personnel issues

  1. Received an update on legal issues from legal counsel

The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors will take place on Saturday, October 22, 2022.

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