Our Humble Beginnings

Conceived out of the visionary mind of the late Hamilton Lavity Stoutt, the concept of a College in the British Virgin Islands was developed as far back as 1982.  With a change in government in 1983, the idea of a College was put on hold and was later resurfaced in 1986 when the late Hon. H. Lavity Stoutt led the government of the BVI as Chief Minister.

Although it was hoped that classes would have commenced by September 1989, the devastation suffered by the Territory as a result of Hurricane Hugo placed all plans on hold. The government selected a Paraquita Bay site for the construction of the College campus and moved forward with the ground breaking ceremony on November 11, 1989 while the territory continued its disaster recovery. On this site, ground was broken for the B.V.I. Community College by the late Hon. H. Lavity Stoutt in the capacity of Chief Minister of the BVI and founding Chairman of the College.  Within the same month, Theodore Provo was appointed to serve as the President of the College.  At the end of the year, the OC Building commonly referred to as the Omar Hodge Building was rented for conducting classes, part-time instructors were appointed, and the College’s first courses were approved.  The Programs Task Force headed by Mrs. Jennie Wheatley immediately reached out to the community and by July 1989, a steady flow of returned questionnaires tailored to employers, employees and the general public revealed an overwhelming need for classes in business and secretarial education, hospitality training, and personal development which became the initial targeted areas of programmes to be offered by the College. Dr. John Wallace, a private consultant and retired educator from Vermont who helped the USVI set up the University of the Virgin Islands was hired by June 1989 as the Interim Director to ensure that a College was started in 1989. Other consultants hired included Dr. Nolen Ellison, who was the President of Cuyahoga Community College at the time, Dr. Janet Smith, who was also of Cuyahoga Community College at the time, and Dr. Bruce Fraser. The consultants used the report of the Focus Committee as a critical component of the resource material necessary to get the College Project off the ground.  On the recommendation of Dr. Smith and Dr. Ellison, four Task Forces (Programs task force, Finance?, Construction?, Administration?  XXX task forces) were instituted to begin the preliminary planning stages of the College. An inaugural meeting of the first Board of Governors took place on March 10, 1989, and at that meeting, an Executive Committee was appointed to manage the daily operations of the College. Preceding the establishment of the College, a College Project Office was opened in January 1989 which was managed by Mrs. Eileene Parsons as the College Project Manager. A Focus Committee, chaired by the late Dr. Norwell Harrigan, was organised to hold discussions with various community groups and the general public to obtain feedback on the viability of an institution of tertiary education for the British Virgin Islands.  There wasn’t a strong feeling of positive nature with several scepticisms that locals believed that the whole issue of a College was a fail accompli long before it was presented to the public. The project continued despite the opposition and the Focus Committee collected the feedback and submitted its report and recommendations to the British Virgin Islands Government.

Our Growth and Developments

Funded by the BVI government, the three-story 30,000 square feet campus building designed by architects Osman, Adams & Partners and built by James Frett Construction and project managed by Mr. Bennet Smith took two and a half years to complete.  On August 15 1993, the college moved from its original location in Road Town at the OC Building to its current campus at Paraquita Bay.  On this day, the British Virgin Islands Community College was subsequently renamed as the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in honour of the man with the determination and visionary ability to see that the British Virgin Islands had its own tertiary institution. The College Act of 1990 gave birth to the British Virgin Islands Community College which was the single most significant project of the 1990’s for improving the quality of life for the people of the British Virgin Islands.  On January 14, 1990, the College held its opening ceremony at the OC Building, and classes commenced on January 15, 1990 with 135 students enrolled in 19 courses taught by local residents.

With the demands from the sister island of Virgin Gorda, the College extended its offerings  in 1996 to the Virgin Gorda community by offering classes within the confines of the Bregado Flax Educational Centre.  The faculty and staff from Tortola commuted to Virgin Gorda to ensure that it got a good start and could offer what the students of Virgin Gorda needed.  We watched the demands grow for much needed expansion that the College moved from the Bregado Flax Educational Centre to the Enid Pickering Building in ____which serves as our second campus location in the BVI.

In the early years when the college started off, it was important to offer trade skills on the onset of the College’s offerings as technical education was and still is a vital link between schools and the world of work.  As time progressed, the College’s offerings grew with the establishment of a Virgin Islands Studies Programme in 1997 to serve as a source of information on the Virgin Islands to further encourage and stimulate research on Virgin Islands heritage.

In the year 2000, the College launched a culinary program in collaboration with the New England Culinary Institute. A culinary arts building was opened in ____ with fully equipped state of the art kitchens, and by Fall 2012, the College started offering its own independent culinary degree offering.  Recognizing that the BVI Financial Services sector was paramount to the territory’s economy, HLSCC introduced the Financial Services Institute in 2002.

A Marine Centre building opened in June 2004.

In November 2004 at the request of the Human Resources Department of the Government, the College undertook to deliver the competency-based professional qualifications of the United Kingdom’s Chartered Management Institute (CMI).  In 2005, the College achieved accreditation as a Chartered Management Centre authorised to deliver CMI programmes at levels from Certificate in Management designed for supervisors and junior managers, through to the Executive Diploma in Management which is the highest level of qualification.

On May 1 2006, the College commenced its Standards for Training, Certification and Watch-Keeping for Seafarers Convention (STCW) programme. This certification is mandatory requirement of the United States Coastguard for ferry boat operators between the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

On 9th June 2006 the Learning Resource Centre was opened by Chief Minister Dr. Orlando Smith, OBE. The centre was founded by the Government of the BVI and the European Development Fund to equip students with a facility for research, provide study spaces, computer access and other library services.

Following the construction and outfitting of the right wing to the Learning Resource Centre, the College opened its Auditorium on August 25 2011.  For lack of a better venue, the College’s main and administrative building was the stage for the College’s dynamic Classics in the Atrium Series. The imaginative programme was conceived by former president Dr. Michael O’Neal with a group of faculty and community members to expose the BVI a wide range of world-class musical presentations not readily available in the BVI.  As the Atrium was often packed with literally standing room, a bigger place became necessary as the purpose behind the construction of Auditorium. The new venue offers a fully air-conditioned 416 seat capacity with a sophisticated stage, lighting, rigging and sound system to stage larger theatrical presentation.  The Classics in the Atrium was renamed the Performing Arts Series and on its opening, the Auditorium was dedicated to Ms. Eileene Parsons by the Premier Ralph T. O’Neal for her varied contributions from co-ordinating the establishment of the College, being its first employee to charting the governance of the College and the territory as a whole.

Lavity Stoutt Community College was accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) in June 2015. Achieving accreditation status on the College’s 25th Anniversary was the perfect gift for the journey in reaching this milestone.

The College’s offerings can be grouped into four (4) academic divisions: Arts and Sciences; Business, Tourism and Information Technology; Technical and Marine Studies; and Education and Community Programmes.

The College’s growth is reflected in the continuing development of existing academic programmes and the creation of new offerings to address identified needs.  Through articulation and other collaborative arrangements with external tertiary institutions such as the University of the Virgin Islands, Wright State, University, Missouri Southern State University and the State University of New York at Buffalo, the College has delivered baccalaureate and master’s degree programs in such areas as education, business administration, and nursing.

Structurally, we’ve grown from having one (1) single building for classes and staff, to five (5) buildings in addition to an Academic Services Building, a Learning Resource Centre, state of the art Auditorium, Cafeteria, with still the need for mobile trailers to serve our students.

The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College will continue to build upon the sustainable success of the past, continue to build the nation, and advance as a model of excellence in learning in tertiary education.