UVI men close winless season UVI working to improve skills of incoming freshmen


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ST. THOMAS - The University of the Virgin Islands board discussed Saturday how to lower the number of students who have to take basic skills courses freshman year.

The topic came up in the mid-year key indicators report, presented to the board Saturday.

Interim Provost Camille McKayle said that the mid-year report showed good progress in the university's efforts to prepare incoming students.

In the fall of the 2011-2012 school year, 85 percent of the freshmen class was enrolled in a skills course. This fall, that number dropped to 77 percent.

"So, we've already reduced that number," McKayle said.

The number is still high, and indicates the territory's high school graduates are not fully prepared for college.

While other universities might be more selective about the students they let in - and therefore would have fewer students enrolled in skills courses - UVI is the territory's only option for higher education and should be inclusive, McKayle said.

A number of initiatives have been working to lower those numbers and better prepare the incoming freshman for the rigor of college academics, she said.

One of the most successful is a "bridge program" where incoming students take those skills courses in the summer between high school graduation and freshman year. After they take the intensive course, many can test out of needing to take at least some of the basic skills courses.

McKayle said UVI's goal is to reduce the number of students taking skills courses to 60 percent by the fall of 2017.

Finances

The report also focused on the university's finances and budget, which continue to decline.

According to the unaudited Fiscal Year 2013 financial indicators, UVI revenues were down 16 percent, the local government appropriation was down 3 percent, revenues from the institution's centers were down 17 percent, for a total operating revenue decline of 10 percent.

Outside grants and contracts were also down 19 percent from about $15 million in 2012 to about $12 million in 2013, according to the report.

Contributions

The Office of Institutional Advancement reported that total contributions were down 61 percent compared to last year.

Vice President of Institutional Advancement Dionne Jackson said that figure will likely change by the end of the year.

"We have several major gifts in the pipeline that you will be hearing about in the future," Jackson said. "We will not just meet but exceed your expectations this year."

She said the number reflects the first installment of a large, multi-million dollar donation that was made last year, as well as several large in-kind contributions made the prior year.

Several special event fundraisers are planned for later in the year, she said.

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

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