UVI unveils its new five-year strategic plan

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ST. THOMAS - The University of the Virgin Islands launched its new five-year strategic plan this week, calling it "Pathways to Greatness."

The plan is divided into six areas of focus - academic quality and excellence; student development and success; community engagement and globalization; modern and safe university environment; organizational and human development; and financial sustainability and growth.

It includes a total of 50 performance goals and 96 measurable objectives to reach by 2017.

The board approved the plan in June.

According to UVI, it will cost the university about $39 million to implement the plan during the next five years, although $18 million of that is the remaining cost for four building projects already under way.

UVI will fund the plan's implementation by normal budget allocations, repurposing existing resources, increasing enrollment to increase revenues and developing new revenue streams.

The strategic plan includes creating new academic degree programs, capital projects and expanding services to UVI students and the larger Virgin Islands community.

At a launch ceremony Wednesday on the St. Thomas campus, UVI President David Hall acknowledged that the plan is ambitious.

"It is a lot of work that we'll have to achieve in the next five years," Hall said.

However, he is confident that the goals can be reached.

While he only had time to highlight a few of the many objectives included in the plan Wednesday, Hall emphasized that all are important. One of the goals states: "UVI will produce graduates who are academically excellent, globally sensitive, entrepreneurially focused, emotionally and spiritually balanced and committed to serving the world."

Hall said meeting that goal will require the deep commitment of the UVI faculty and staff.

"If we can pull this one off, we truly will be a great university," he said.

Under the academic focus, the university plans to create online degree programs, explore developing a school of medicine, and create UVI's first doctorate program. Hall said it has not been decided which subject area would be chosen for the Ph.D. program.

Hall said the university must focus on attracting high-achieving students from within the territory and from off-island.

"There is still a brain drain in the V.I.," Hall said. "We are losing our best and brightest to mainland universities."

Engaging the community is another area of focus under the plan. Hall said the university will solicit input from public and private sector leaders in the territory on a more regular basis. The university also wants to be an available resource as the V.I. government works to address issues such as crime, education and the economy.

Building new facilities and renovating and upgrading existing facilities is another goal of the institution.

"If we want to compete for the best and brightest, then we have to have facilities that are the best," Hall said.

He also said UVI must address its compensation levels in order to keep and attract quality faculty.

One of the university's most ambitious goals included in the strategic plan is to create a research-based childcare center. The center would provide a resource to students with children and would be a place for students studying early childhood development to get hands-on learning experience.

Several of the plan's goals focus on raising capital for the university and boosting revenue. Hall said the Institutional Advancement Division will focus on federal, corporate and industrial grants, in addition to seeking major donors.

He also said UVI will lobby the local government to restore its local funding levels. Since 2009, the annual General Fund budget appropriation has dropped by about $6 million, Hall said.

Before making a decision at the polls in November, UVI supporters should ask the current field of political candidates what they plan to do for the university, he said.

"We need your support," he told the crowd at Wednesday's ceremony. "We need all of your support to make this piece of paper a reality." UVI Student Government Association members from St. Croix joined their counterparts on St. Thomas Wednesday for a meeting, and many of the student leaders came to the launch ceremony.

St. Thomas campus SGA President Kimberlee Smith said she was pleased with the goals laid out in new strategic plan.

"I'm very happy, and I'm very proud of what Dr. Hall is trying to implement," she said. "Not only is it a great impact for the UVI community, but also for the outside community."

She said she especially is excited about the childcare center, which is desperately needed.

Kevin Dixon, St. Croix's SGA president, said the plan complements the students and will foster growth among the student body.

"It is a very bold and ambitious plan," Dixon said.

"I am glad that it continues to keep the students at the center of the plan and helps us develop leaders to chart the course for our communities and a better Virgin Islands," he said.

UVI goes through a strategic planning process every five years. The last plan, VISION 2012, expired Sept. 30. The process to develop the new strategic plan - covering the period 2012-2017 - began in October 2010.

For more information call 693-1000 or visit http://strategicplan.uvi.edu.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.Cost to implement UVI's strategic plan

Academic quality and excellence $8,150,000

Student development and success $3,050,000

Community engagement and globalization $3,550,000

Modern and safe university environment $19,475,000

Organizational and human development $1,410,000

Financial sustainability and growth $3,700,000

TOTAL $39,335,000

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