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UVI Board Looking for Ragster Replacement

Feb. 29, 2008 — The University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees is looking to replace President LaVerne Ragster, whose term expires in 2009.
Ragster initially had a five-year contract that was extended a year ago for two years. News of her exit came via a statement the board released Thursday.
Ragster and board Chairman Auguste E. Rimpel Jr. both hedged when asked why she was leaving at the end of her contract.
"That's the end of the contract," Ragster said.
When she asked for the two-year extension last year, it was because there were projects she wanted to finish, Ragster said.
Rimpel would respond only that Ragster requested a two-year extension that runs out in 2009.
Ragster and Rimpel both said that Ragster will work till the end of her contract.
"There's still a lot to do," she said.
Projects on the burner include a new dormitory for the St. Thomas campus, the possibility of a hotel on the St. Thomas campus and a wind-turbine project.
Ragster cited taking the university to the bond market to get $21 million for projects was her shining hour during her time as president.
Her tenure was not without issues, as UVI faculty sought to unionize in hopes of getting better pay and benefits. That matter remains unsettled and is pending review in V.I. Superior Court.
As for Ragster's future plans, she intends to go on a sabbatical for a year when she's done working at UVI. She hopes to work with a United Nations environmental program or help other Caribbean colleges. Down the road, she said, she would like to work with UVI's marine science program.
Seven years as president is "well beyond" the term most university presidents serve, Rimpel said.
"On behalf of the board of trustees, I would like to formally thank Dr. Ragster for her valuable contributions to the University of the Virgin Islands," Rimpel said in the statement. "I have every assurance that she shares my commitment to fostering a smooth transition to the next presidential administration."
The board has hired Isaacson, Miller, a leading national executive search firm, to help UVI find a new president. The Boston-based firm is experienced in leading searches for university and college presidents. Rimpel estimated it will take six months to a year to find a new president.
"I have no idea where this person will come from," he said. However, Rimpel said the new president will likely need to give notice at his or her current job, which could run six months.
Ragster is UVI's fourth president. She took over from Orville Kean Sept. 1, 2002, when Kean retired. Her inaugural installation ceremony was March 16, 2003.
The university community has been advised of meetings scheduled to take place with representatives from Isaacson, Miller between March 12 and 14 on the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses. At those meetings input will be sought from UVI faculty, students, staff and alumni, as well as community and business leaders. The meetings are being held to enable the Isaacson, Miller team to learn more about the university and the challenges and opportunities facing the next president.
Following the UVI board meeting March 15, a UVI presidential search committee will be appointed with representatives from various constituency groups. The committee will work with Isaacson, Miller in the coming months to develop and implement a plan to recruit a first-rate pool of candidates for the position, the statement said.
The board expects to approve the position profile later in March. Through the search firm, the search committee will present to the board a small number of finalists who will be interviewed and evaluated. The board will appoint the successful candidate.
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