“The future is in our hearts and hands.” Those were the words of University of the Virgin Islands President David Hall when two Innovations Centers became a reality at UVI just three years ago. Dr. Hall’s vision has grown well beyond just centers for innovation.
The aim of UVI’s new Strategic Plan is to align goals and measurable objectives to create a University whose emphasis, incentives, and processes stimulate and nurture innovative ideas.
With “Greatness Through Innovation” as its roadmap, the University of the Virgin Islands’ 2018-2023 Strategic Plan has set itself on a course toward a new vision: a “Culture of Innovation.”
“Innovation has to be how we think, how we make decisions,” says UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle.
After the devasting effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two category five hurricanes that pummeled the territory in 2017, the University was faced with many challenges. In just a few short weeks, the University was able to “Innovate to Educate” and continue classes to save the semester.
Now looking to its future, UVI has plans for a state-of-the-art Simulation Center. Currently under construction, the Simulation Center will provide UVI medical students, as well as practicing physicians and nurses from the territory and beyond, with the training they need to maintain licensure and certification to practice their medical specialty. Students and professionals will be able to practice on medical mannequins in order to hone their skills, refine advanced techniques and learn valuable social interactive tools for delivering results to patients. The Center will also feature an operating room, surgical skill laboratories, simulation laboratories, trauma moulage, debriefing rooms, team training rooms, conference room, multipurpose room and a dining hall. In June 2019 the UVI Board of Trustees toured the facility.
UVI’s Research & Technology Park (RTPark) is another example of the “rubber meeting the road” where innovation is concerned. This innovative partnership – an economic development organization operating under a legislative mandate and policy guidance from UVI – aims to develop a thriving technology sector, not only to feed UVI’s research, but also to strengthen the entrepreneurial culture of the territory. As well as broadening the academic and financial capabilities of the University, it will play a leading role in workforce development to help produce a more highly skilled and globally competitive workforce.
By offering online degrees and courses, UVI is embracing technological innovation to meet the expectations and demands of non-traditional prospective students. Blending face-to-face learning with online learning equips students to weather the technological tsunamis on the horizon, even as it fundamentally changes how teachers and learners communicate, interact and think, not only about the course material but about the University and the world beyond.
UVI is competing not only in a national and global academic environment, it is also an integral part of the local community. It is sensitive and relevant to the special needs and wishes of the territory. As President Hall states: “It is essential that we engage with thoughtful critics on campus and in the wider community when considering innovation and renewal in a way that incorporates our proven competencies, current and future needs, and workable strategies driven by clear visions of our future in a culture of innovation.”
To be effective, innovation must make sense, which is why the strategic plan is more than a collection of bright ideas. It incorporates institutional innovation to keep strategies and aspirations for the future realistic and achievable. Innovation is also about seeing new possibilities in old problems.
UVI is not sitting back passively waiting for innovation to present itself. The University is adapting, learning and reimagining; using “Greatness Through Innovation” as its guide, it’s clear that the University will be ready for whatever the future holds.
“Next time U.S. News and World Report puts out its Top 50 Innovative Institutions in the World or in the U.S., I want UVI be recognized as such,” Dr. McKayle says of expectations for the future.