St. Thomas businessman gives UVI $350,000


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ST. THOMAS - The University of the Virgin Islands received a $350,000 endowment Tuesday, the third largest gift to the institution made in the last four years.

The gift was given by Dale LeFebvre, founder and chairman of Oson VI, LLC, a management, consulting and investment advisory firm and Economic Development Commission beneficiary.

LeFebvre said education is an investment, and too many young people are not aware of their options and ability to go to college.

When he was a teenager in Beaumont, Texas, he took the PSAT and scored so well the Massachusetts Institute of Technology invited him to join a summer program. It opened his eyes to the possibility of college that he had never really considered, and he ended up attending and graduating from MIT with an electrical engineering degree and earning a master's degree from the Harvard School of Business and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.

"People made an investment in me like I'm trying to do here," he said.

LeFebvre presented a $250,000 check to the university to provide money for two university programs and then surprised everyone by pledging an additional $100,000 donation.

The LeFebvre Endowed Student Fellowship Award has been established with $100,000 to provide scholarships and transportation stipends for a sophomore and junior accounting student each year they attend UVI.

As a part of the scholarship program, recipients will have an opportunity for an internship at LeFebvre's company.

The Oson VI, LLC Endowed Fund for Recruitment and Retention was created with $100,000 of the donation. The fund will help UVI attract and engage underserved and promising students.

The bequest also will fund programs such as the UVI Entrepreneur Business Institute and University Bound.

A $25,000 gift was made to the SAT preparatory program administered by University Bound's College and Career Readiness Initiative as well as to the UVI Community Involvement and Lifelong Learning Center's SAT Prep Summer Program.

As his life was changed by taking the PSAT - the precursor to the SAT typically taken in 10th or 11th grade - LeFebvre said he wants V.I. students to do well on the test and have greater opportunities.

"It's an exposure issue," he said.

LeFebvre's donation will assist local high school students in taking the SAT prep courses, which will be taught by certified instructors. The funds used by the SAT Programs will cover stipends, program costs and administrative costs.

The remaining money will be set aside in a temporary fund until it can be designated to a specific program at UVI. If no designation has been made by Dec. 30, the money will go to the LeFebvre Endowed Student Fellowship Award.

UVI President David Hall thanked LeFebvre for his generous donation Tuesday.

"Education is the transformative engine of society. Without higher education then we can't address our economic, political and social issues," Hall said. "The investment that you're making will touch every aspect of a student's development and that is what we really need."

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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