| The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) was chartered on March 16, 1962, as the College of the Virgin Islands — a publicly funded, coeducational, liberal arts institution — by Act No. 862 of the Fourth Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to that law, UVI’s cornerstone objective is to provide for “...the stimulation and utilization of the intellectual resources of the people of the Virgin Islands and the development of a center of
higher learning whereby and wherefrom the benefits of culture and education may be extended throughout the Virgin Islands.”
The enabling legislation was the result of at least two years of preparation and planning. In 1960, the V.I. Legislature created a temporary body called the Virgin Islands College Commission, comprised of interested island residents, to survey the need for a territorial college. In April 1961, Governor Ralph M. Paiewonsky pledged to establish such a college in his inaugural address. And in July 1961, Governor Paiewonsky hosted a Governor’s Conference on Higher Education, at which twenty educators observed and analyzed the Virgin
Islands’ educational scene, and made recommendations for the creation of the College of the Virgin Islands (CVI).
The first campus opened on St. Thomas in July 1963, on 175 acres donated by the federal government. The first board of trustees took office in August 1963. In 1964, the college founded a second campus on St. Croix, on 130 acres also donated by the federal government.
CVI began by offering only associate of arts degrees. In 1967 it added bachelor’s degree programs in liberal arts and education. The first baccalaureate degrees were awarded in 1970, and in 1976 the college awarded its first master’s degrees in education. Two years later, master’s degree programs in business administration and public administration were instituted on both campuses.
In 1972, the College of the Virgin Islands was awarded Land-Grant status by the U.S. Congress. This allowed for the establishment of an Agricultural Experiment Station and a Cooperative Extension Service. Since then, many other programs and services have been added. These include the Reichhold Center for the Arts, the Eastern Caribbean Center, the William P. MacLean Marine Science Center, the Sports and Fitness Center and the Virgin
Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR).
In 1986, the College of the Virgin Islands was renamed the University of the Virgin Islands to reflect the growth and diversification of its academic curricula, community and regional services, and research programs. That same year, the United States Congress named UVI one of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU); therefore, it holds the distinction of being the only HBCU outside of the continental United States.
In 2002, Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster was named the fourth president of the University of the Virgin Islands, succeeding Dr. Orville E. Kean who became president in 1990. Dr. Arthur A. Richards served as the second president of UVI from 1980-1990, while Dr. Lawrence C. Wanlass served as the first president from 1962-1980, when UVI was the College of the Virgin Islands.
Another milestone in the historical development of the University was the Board of Trustees' approval of a new framework for UVI's organization and governance, which went into effect on October 1, 1999. The basis of the new administrative structure is a Provost/Campus Executive Administrator system that separates campus-level and university-level responsibilities in order to create an environment that better addresses the changing needs
of each campus, the University, and the Virgin Islands community.
UVI is a public liberal arts-based Masters II university, a Historically Black College and University, and a Land-Grant institution. Today, UVI has a combined enrollment of approximately 2,500 full-time, part-time and graduate students on its two campuses. It continues to offer a high-quality, affordable liberal arts education and professional programs in a culturally diverse environment. The University's objective is to be recognized as the leading American institution of higher learning in the Caribbean.