Dr. LaVerne Ragster and PM Denzil Douglas (R)
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Christiansted, St. Croix
May 22, 2009 (CUOPM)
The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) will not only continue to play a major role as an institution of choice for students of the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, but is destined to become a pantheon of the regional academic space.
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas delivering the keynote address to 96 students receiving degrees at the St, Croix Campus during the 45th Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday highlighted the role past Kittitian and Nevisian students play in the educational institution but also in the national development of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“UVI “has always been a place where hundreds of our nationals and perhaps thousands of Eastern Caribbean nationals have made their academic home. It is true that we have my alma mater, the University of the West Indies, but for many nationals in the Eastern Caribbean, and certainly for my home, St. Kitts and Nevis, UVI was and continues to be the institution of place, and the academic scepter of choice for students of the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis,” he said.
In calling for greater co-existence between UVI and St, Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Douglas noted that higher education is of paramount importance in the Caribbean today.
Dr. Douglas said that information-communication-technology (ICT) is the mortar that is critical in the educational edifices of the Caribbean and expressed delight that under the institutional leadership of President, Dr. LaVerne Ragster, and the academic leadership of Dr. Al Hassan Musah, UVI and the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in St. Kitts recently inaugurated and officially launched the UVI-CFBC telecommunications center.
“What this has done is put more feathers in the cap of UVI in a region in the Caribbean that saw UVI as another institution of higher learning in the Caribbean. It also means that now we, UVI and CFBC, can train our students at the Master’s level in Education, Public Administration, Business Administration, and other fields. In time, I am sure classes could be offered to us in the areas of Marine Science, Criminal Justice programs, in Police Science, in Psychology, etc,” said the Prime Minister.
He noted that St. Kitts and Nevis has developed a comparative advantage in higher education with several institutions of higher education including a long established Veterinary School, an International Nursing School and seven medical schools of international repute.
“That UVI now has extended its hand of cooperation to us underscores its motto, that it specialises in futures,” said Dr. Douglas.
He noted that while UVI continues to spread its wings in the wider Caribbean, it must at the same time consolidate its strength in the US Virgin Islands.
“Over the years, our state has contributed in the area of professors, administrative staff and other staff. A current sitting member of my Cabinet, the Honorable Richard Skerritt, UVI’s first Rhodes scholar, a past long-term member of a previous government, Hugh Heyliger, and a Premier of our sister island Nevis, the Honorable Vance Amory, are all graduates of CVI or UVI. So, this is not a new friendship; this is not a shot-gun wedding; this is not a courtship of convenience. This is a commitment that has long-lasting benefits, a win-win situation, for both of us,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister.
Dr. Douglas pointed out that while UVI and CFBC have started the telecommunications center, he was mindful of the fact that UVI has also extended its programmes in the BVI and St. Maarten, and that it has plans to have MOU’s with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“The fundamental essence of this futuristic stratagem lies in the fact that our two-year institutions could be feeder institutions for your upper level classes. The time will come when our two-year institutions will become four-year institutions. At that time, UVI will have the opportunity to be among the other leading institutions in the Caribbean to guide us along the academic trajectory that will position us in the pantheon of the academic space,” said Prime Minister Douglas.