Henry Smock chosen to lead UVI Board of Trustees

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ST. CROIX - The University of the Virgin Islands has a new leader after the school's board of trustees met Saturday on St. Croix.

Out of eight nominations received for the positions of chair and vice-chair of the board, the board's governance committee selected the team of former vice chair Henry Smock to be the new chair accompanied by former Board Chairman Alexander Moorhead as his vice chair. The choice of Smock and Moorhead was unanimously ratified by the board and will lead the university's trustees for at least the next year.

Before returning the chair to Moorhead, for his final meeting, Smock said he was thankful for Moorhead's leadership as they worked to move the university forward and upward.

Smock has worked with the university in capacities including building contractor, professor, chairman of the board of Reichhold Center, trustee and his son also now attends the university.

"I've been here for a while in various areas and this is an opportunity to be a part of the university in one more job and I embrace this with enthusiasm," he said.

Moorhead said he was appreciative of the support he had received over the last six years.

University President David Hall in his report, highlighted a number of student and faculty accomplishment for the last quarter.

He said the university is proud to be moving forward with its New Generation Power project that received a $3 million grant to complete Phase II of the solar energy project that will allow them to produce energy on both campuses with the goal of being energy independent, Hall said. The ground breaking for the next phase of the project and the start of the construction on St. Croix is scheduled for July and the project on St. Thomas should begin shortly after that. It is anticipated that by the end of August, the St. Croix project will be completed and the St. Thomas project is expected to be completed by October, Hall said.

Hall said they have also continued to build on relationships outside of the territory as they have signed new memorandums of understanding with the H. Lavity Stout College on Tortola and Anguilla Community College to help permit a smoother transition for students coming from those islands and allow UVI to conduct additional programs on their campus and engage in joint research projects.

"This is a start, because we have to broaden our imprint across the Caribbean," he said.

In the Executive Committee Report, Moorhead said in its May meeting, the committee approved a request from the dean of School of Nursing and the faculty requesting that a degree be awarded to a student who died of cancer just weeks before graduation. The degree, which was presented posthumously at the May graduation, was ratified Saturday by the full board.

The board also voted to direct the administration to develop a policy to cover such situations in the future.

In the Finance and Budget Committee's presentation, committee's chairperson Edward Thomas said the committee last month voted to recommend to the board the approval of an operation budget of $46.9 million for the 2015 fiscal year. Without additional discussion the board unanimously accepted the recommendation.

Thomas then presented a career advancement policy that he said would systematically support the career development of the university's employees. He said the administration seeks to ensure that the Strategic Plan 2017 is not only achieved, but that the growth and development is sustained.

Hall explained that one of the presidential goals is to develop a more systematic and comprehensive method to ensure university employees advance in their careers.

"If we are going to be serious about ensuring that people here are embraced, supported and advanced, we cant leave it to an ad hoc process," Hall said. "We need to have a process in place and make sure that we are operating on a systemic basis."

The board approved new goals for the next fiscal year that include seven items, such as:

- allowing for more stakeholder presentations to the board.

- having progress reports on the Strategic Plan 2017 at every board meeting.

- solving the university financial challenges.

- updating policies of the board.

- assessing best practices for terms of boards of public colleges

- to have presentations that would inform other branches of government of the strategic goals and the appropriations needed to achieve them.

The board spent about an hour in executive session to discus legal and personnel matters and other items regarding contracts and confidential issues.

Following the convening of the regular session, they voted unanimously to appoint Trustee Patricia Steele to replace Smock on the Research and Technology Board, since he will also be an ex officio member of the board by virtue of his new chairmanship. Moorhead, however, will be serving temporarily in that capacity until Steele, who is out of the territory, returns.

The board's next meeting will be in October on St. Thomas.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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