While UVI quickly details Martha's Vineyard spending, governor still has not produced his and wife's expenses
Published: September 4, 2012
Font size: [A] [A] [A]
ST. THOMAS - Eyebrows were raised when the University of the Virgin Islands sent out photos of UVI President David Hall and Gov. John deJongh Jr. hobnobbing with big spenders in Martha's Vineyard in July, but officials said the event was all part of a larger plan to bring in some seven-figure donations to the territory's university.
The event was held at the Vineyard Haven home of former UVI board chairman Auguste Rimple Jr. on July 28. The Daily News requested information about the trip from both Hall and deJongh on July 31.
Hall responded to a request for information about the trip on Aug. 6, providing requested cost break-downs, copies of plane tickets and a list of UVI employees who attended the event.
The governor still has not produced what the cost to the V.I. taxpayers was for his and the first lady's trip.
Government House spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said last week that the response is still being compiled and he did not have a time frame for when it would be ready.
Hall said the only UVI employees who attended the event were Vice President of Institutional Advancement Dionne Jackson and himself.
DeJongh and his wife, Cecile, also attended the reception, Hall said. Hall did not provide any travel expenses for the deJonghs, however.
The trip cost the university $9,196.25, according to the information provided by Hall. It includes three days of travel and lodging for Jackson and two days of travel and lodging for Hall. Costs associated with the reception itself totaled $2,945: $1,552 for catering; $948 for tent and supplies rental; $145 for a public address system; and $300 for a photographer.
"These expenses were covered by private contributions that the university raised and contributions made by some of the co-hosts. There were no public funds used to cover these expenses," Hall said in his letter of response to The Daily News.
Rimple provided the use of his home free of cost, according to Hall. The reception was co-hosted by UVI board member Carol Fulp and her husband, C. Bernard Fulp, Alphanso Christian Jr. and his wife, Michaele Christian, Peter and Gwen Norton and Dr. Byron Biscoe.
"The location was chosen because of the significant number of influential individuals and potential donors who vacation in Martha's Vineyard each summer," Hall said. "The event was well attended and productive, with over 70 potential major donors in attendance, who left the event very informed and excited about UVI."
While they were in Martha's Vineyard, Hall and the governor did two interviews with local newspapers - The Vineyard Gazette and The Martha's Vineyard Times. The articles play up the similarities of the two island communities - the Virgin Islands and Martha's Vineyard - and inform readers about the university and the territory.
"As we continue to seek external support for the university, it will be critically important that we reach out to potential major donors who can provide the resources that will allow the university to reach its goals and replace the significant resources we have lost through various budget reductions as well as to fund the university's capital improvement plan," Hall said.
When the Martha's Vineyard trip came up at an Aug. 8 Senate budget hearing, Jackson said that while the university has reached an all-time high this year in donations from the school's alumni program - about $100,000 - UVI needs to seek out large corporate and individual donors.
"Those gifts need to be cultivated," she said. "You have to cultivate them. You have to get them engaged."
She said her job is to get potential large donors to fall in love with the institution.
She said that at the Martha's Vineyard event, no direct fundraising was done. Rather, the point was to try to build relationships and educate potential donors about the university, according to Jackson.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.