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June 3, 2001 – University of the Virgin Islands President Orville Kean will retire next year after more than 30 years in higher education.
At a meeting Saturday of the UVI Board of Trustees on St. Croix, Kean, 63, announced for the first time publicly that he will retire in September 2002. While the news of Kean’s departure from the university may come as a surprise to many Virgin Islanders, UVI board chairman Auguste Rimpel Jr. said the board was aware of Kean’s decision and has already set in motion plans to find a replacement.
"It has nothing to do with dissatisfaction with the university," Kean said of his decision to step down. "I’ll be 64 when I retire. I would like to spend more time with my parents and grandchildren."
Kean was named the third president of the university in 1990 after originally joining the faculty in 1966, four years after the school’s founding. In those 34 years he has served as an assistant, associate and full professor of mathematics; vice chair of the Science and Mathematics Division; acting director of the Caribbean Research Institute; founding director of the Eastern Caribbean Center; academic dean of instruction; acting vice president for academic affairs; executive vice president, and president.
He has been actively involved in international forums of higher education and currently serves as the president of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes.
After leaving office on Sept. 30 of next year, Kean said, he will "dabble" in some of his passions, such as mathematics, art and food.
"One of my wild ideas is to do a cookbook on Creole cooking," he said.
And forget the rumors of a possible bid for Government House, he said, flatly rejecting any future political aspirations.
Rimpel said the average tenure of a university president is three to five years.
"We’ve been fortunate to have had him for more than 10 years," he said of Kean. "There is a normal time in a presidency to move on."
The search for Kean’s successor started about two months ago when the board’s search committee met with a search consultant, Rimpel said. He said the process to find the next president will take six months to a year.
"I expect this will be a national search," Rimpel said. "We will look internally and externally to find the best candidate. We are just beginning the process."
Kean, meanwhile, said he is satisfied with what the university has accomplished during his tenure — a good part of which was dedicated to recovering from two major hurricanes. He said the university has a "great team" in place and substantial goals ahead of it, including the development of a world-class technology research park.
"We will be at the cutting edge of where universities are moving in the future," he said. "I’m happy to be at the forefront of those ideas."
Kean was awarded his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He has since received many honors and awards, most recently an honorary doctor of science degree from his undergraduate alma mater, Lincoln University.

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