2 Chapter 2: UVI – My University
Achieving a Connection to your University
Photo Credit: www.uvi.edu
One great benefit of college life is the diversity that exists among students. No two students are the same. There are differences in gender, ethnicity, social perspectives, goals and so much more. In thinking about your college experience, some of you may be planning to eventually transfer to another school. Some of you may be hoping to do a semester or a year in an exchange program and then return to UVI. Some of you may be planning to spend all of your college years here at UVI. Whatever your plans or eventual decisions, all of you are currently students at UVI. From the moment you were accepted to study, you became part of the University community. Developing a sense of belonging to an institution can make a big difference in how you approach your college experience. If you feel that school is something that you are obligated or required to attend, you may quickly begin to view it as a burden that keeps you from doing something else that you prefer to do, like binge-watching your favorite TV show. Such a perspective can easily deflate your enthusiasm for getting the most out of school. Most of us do not put forth effort to accomplish things that are not our desired activities. That’s why it’s helpful to feel at home at UVI. Try to see UVI as the place where you belong. Get involved in campus life and get excited about every moment you spend at school. The stronger the connection you feel to the University, the more you will see UVI as the place where you want to be right now.
UVI – My University
Photo Credit: www.uvi.edu
One way to make that happen is by knowing more about your school. If you are going to feel connected to UVI, you need to learn more about it. Although UVI was created in 1962, the seeds of the University were sown many years earlier. As the population and economy of the Territory began to grow during the mid-twentieth century, more and more young people began to finish high school and search for ways to continue their education. In those days options were limited. Only families with sufficient income or connections off-island could afford to send their children to college. By the late 1950’s, those in government, education and the community began searching for a way to bring higher education to the Virgin Islands. With assistance from the federal government, UVI was born. Known then as the College of the Virgin Islands, the first graduation took place in 1965. Ladybird Johnson, the wife of the President of the United States, was the graduation speaker. The college grew steadily through the years and was renamed the University of the Virgin Islands in 1986.
To better understand UVI, it is helpful to examine two important UVI identities:
UVI is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU): HBCU’s are a consortium of approximately 100 colleges and universities that have traditionally served African-American communities. They have a rich history of enabling educational opportunities to people of color that were previously almost impossible to achieve. Countless leaders among the African-American population are products of HBCU schools. It is important to note that UVI is not just one of the many HBCU’s that exist, UVI is the only HBCU located outside of the continental United States. There are no HBCU’s in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam or Puerto Rico. This represents an important distinction of how UVI has taken the prestigious tradition of HBCU’s and extended it to the people of the Caribbean region. Photo Credit: www.redbubble.com
UVI is a Land Grant Institution: A land-grant college or university is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of a series of legislative acts which endowed the colleges with a three-part function encompassing teaching, research, and extension. A key component of the land-grant system is the agricultural experiment station program which is intended to provide local farmers with the best available research on agriculture.
The Mission of the University
Another way to understand an institution is to read its mission statement. The University’s mission statement defines the values and goals that represent the focus of UVI’s operations. It expresses the core activities that reflect what matters most to the institution. The mission statement is updated as the University evolves to address the needs of the community it serves. It can be found on the website and inside the UVI catalog. Click here to read the current UVI mission statement:
Photo Credit: www.uvi.edu
In addition to referring to the school that provided you with your education, an Alma Mater is also the school song. These songs or anthems are intended to instill students and alumni with pride for the institution that helped define them as educated individuals. The name comes from the Latin phrase which literally translates as “generous mother” or something that provides nourishment. Click on the link to listen to UVI’s “Alma Mater by the Sea.” It is sung at all formal University gatherings and has a special significance to those who have graduated from UVI.