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HomeNewsArchivesUVI President Becomes Honorary Rotarian

UVI President Becomes Honorary Rotarian

Rotary II President Erik Baynes (left) and new honorary member UVI President David Hall.UVI President David Hall became the newest member of Rotary Club of St. Thomas II Wednesday, an honorary title, which Hall graciously accepted.
In less than a year, Hall – who replaced outgoing president LaVerne Ragster on Aug. 1, 2009 – has taken an active role in university and community affairs, and according to the reception he was awarded at his inauguration in March, has secured affections and respect of the university’s faculty, board of trustees and students.
Hall spoke strongly of the connection between values the Rotary Clubs and communities demand from their members. He noted the "great synergy and connection between the university and the Rotary ideals, rooted in the ideal of service above self.
"It is an honor to be a part of Rotary – Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?" Hall said, commenting on Rotary values too soon overlooked.
"We become obsessed with results," Hall said. "We forget there are other values, concepts that aren’t easily addressed, that are a challenge. With those values woven into our daily lives, we could transform the world."
Garnering a laugh, Rotary II President Erik Baynes reminded Hall of one other value held dear to his particular club: "Will it be fun for all?"
A preeminent scholar in the field of law, Hall is a former dean of Northeastern University School of Law and was the first black to hold that position. He later was appointed provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern, where he oversaw significant growth in the university’s external research funding, retention rate and overall academic standing.
He was also instrumental in establishing Northeastern’s Urban Law and Public Policy Institute, which brought together community activists, government officials and academicians.
Speaking later, past president and board member Erva Denham said that Ragster had proposed Hall for the honorary title. "LaVerne was an honorary member, herself," Denham said. "Once that post was finished, she was able to become a full-fledged regular member. It seemed rather nice to have a sequence of [membership] proposals of UVI presidents."
The diminutive Ragster certainly thought so, grinning widely as she reached to the skies to pin the towering Hall, a former basketball star.
Hall spoke of his aspirations to take UVI from being a good school to "greatness." He added that more students need to graduate.
While the school’s one-year student retention rate [75 percent] is above many other peer institutions, its six-year graduation rate of 25 percent, he said, is "unacceptable," adding that UVI is losing over three-fourths of the students who initially enroll.
Noting the "crisis with young males in the territory," Hall highlighted UVI Brothers with a Cause, an initiative created to speak to public schools and "encourage young men to come to UVI and to stay.
In the program, Hall said, UVI students "mentor the young men throughout their college career."
Speaking before the meeting, Hall said 70 Charlotte Amalie High School students had attended the group’s initial meeting. Responding to an audience question, Hall said the program will be extended to young women in the future, especially single mothers.
Receiving a huge hand from the audience, Hall said UVI will be instituting a Hotel and Hospitality course by fall of 2011.
"It’s about time," the audience almost said in unison. Hall said the course would be guided by local hotel experts, as well as from the prestigious Johnson and Wales Culinary School.
Other goals include including St. John in UVI’s teleconferencing network, and for the university to "go green," with environmental programs, which Hall said will "nurture my heart and create more friends in my new home."
In response to a question about why UVI did not provide its employees’ salaries for a recent Daily News report, Hall said UVI did not release individual salary information to the paper because it is a "quasi-government" institution and that, according to its legal counsel, it wasn’t obliged to do so.
He said UVI had offered to supply the jobs and salaries, but not the names. The Daily News refused that offer, he said.

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