University of the Virgin Islands President David Hall will be honored with the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association’s (USVI-HTA) Award of Excellence at the 14th Annual Tommy Star Awards and Gala on Nov. 14, at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel.
The exclusive Tommy Star Award of Excellence is presented annually to a Virgin Islander who has made a significant contribution to the success of the tourism industry. The USVI-HTA is recognizing Dr. Hall for the tremendous strides he has taken for higher education, and for initiating UVI’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program.
“I have an incredible amount of respect for Dr. Hall,” said USVI-HTA President Lisa Hamilton. “When he first took over as president of UVI and discovered we did not have a hospitality program, he proactively reached out to the association to see how we could rally and remedy the situation.”
“Dr. Hall was the key driver in ensuring this program was brought to life and now we have about 100 students enrolled,” she said. “We are honored to present Dr. Hall with the Award of Excellence.”
“I was motivated to help create the program because it was clearly something that needed to be done to fulfill a great need,” Hall said. “Students from the Virgin Islands should be trained effectively so that they can become the future leaders of this industry. Without this type of intervention, Virgin Islanders will not feel as if they are fully engaged in an industry that is so essential to the economy of the Virgin Islands.”
Students enrolled in UVI’s Hospitality Degree Program can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Each student must complete approximately 200 to 300 hours in internships within the industry. There are nearly 100 students on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix participating in internships through the program. Students participate in tours, site visits, lectures, hospitality community projects, special events, laboratory experiences and more. The hospitality program received national recognition, ranking number 26, in a list of “50 Most Affordable Small Colleges for Hospitality Administration and Management.”
Students receiving the Hotel and Tourism Management degree are prepared to become hospitality professionals who possess the business knowledge, managerial skills, and professional competencies to obtain entry-level management positions in the industry. Students in the program are the cornerstone of many high-end signature events on campus, throughout the territory and fully manage the Reichhold Center for the Arts Sky Lounge and Concession. UVI conferred Bachelor of Arts degrees to the program’s first graduates last year.
“What was once an idea in the minds of various individuals is now a process of transformation that is preparing the Virgin Islands to meet the challenges it faces,” said Dr. Hall. “If more of us were willing to dream collectively, and work to make those dreams a reality, then we can truly transform the Virgin Islands and the world.”
Dr. Hall was born in Savannah, Ga. and attended public segregated schools until he graduated. He was awarded a full athletic scholarship at Kansas State University where he was named an “All American” for his athletic and scholarly accomplishments. After graduating from Kansas State, he played professional basketball in Italy. Dr. Hall received his doctor of jurisprudence from the University of Oklahoma, where he also earned a Master’s Degree in Human Relations. He holds both a Master of Laws degree and a doctorate of juridical science from Harvard Law School. President Hall practiced law with the Federal Trade Commission in Chicago before becoming a law professor. Having taught law for more than 25 years in the law schools of the University of Mississippi, the University of Oklahoma and Northeastern University, Dr. Hall has enjoyed a distinguished career as an educational administrator and preeminent scholar in the field of law. He also served as provost and senior vice president of Northeastern University, and was also the first African-American to hold that position. His publications include works on civil rights, the U.S. Constitution and race, legal education, and social justice.
Past Tommy Star Award of Excellence winners have shown their dedication to tourism through their careers, community outreach, advocacy and a desire to learn and evolve. Nine additional awards will be given to hospitality and tourism employees who demonstrate an unwavering dedication to tourism and strive to make each guest experience unique and memorable.