Faculty Involvement in University Planning
The university soon will translate recent vigorous planning activities into a vision for the academic enterprise and the physical environment and into the case for the next capital campaign. The Faculty Senate lauds the planning initiatives undertaken to date, especially the Virginia 2020 Commissions, which modeled an inclusive, creative approach to planning as they addressed weaknesses and deficiencies that limit U.Va. in its bid to be a top national research university.
The work of the 2020 Commissions, the Envision sessions in the schools, and the Virginia 2020 caucuses with alumni could benefit now from a thoughtful process of review and integration. The process should be aggressive, with a short timeline. Culminating planning in this way should recapture the momentum of multiple planning efforts and should achieve several objectives::
· Nearly two years have elapsed since the commissions filed their reports, and some commissions' recommendations are already being implemented; a status report on commission outcomes is appropriate before large-scale fundraising is organized around them.
· Bold scenarios for growth in the sciences and the arts should be reaffirmed and their necessarily high costs studied to make the most of resources raised and invested.
· The individual commissions' conclusions should be linked with one another - how might science, technology, and arts initiatives connect with each other, and with international activities and public outreach? These linkages in turn should be studied both for potential programmatic synergies and resource economies.
· The commissions' conclusions should be linked with other areas of the university, especially traditional areas of strength that may be at risk and must be sustained, such as the social sciences and our nationally prominent programs in the humanities.
· The commissions' conclusions should be connected with planning efforts undertaken in the last year by individual schools, such as the College of Arts and Sciences' ambitious South Lawn Project and the School of Medicine's integrated planning project with the Medical Center.
· Wherever possible, the 2020 Commissions' conclusions and recent school plans should be matched up with all-university themes identified in Envision sessions in the schools and with alumni, themes including graduate education, ethics and public life, public outreach, undergraduate research, science and society, and policy studies.
Integrating the various planning initiatives across the university can yield a comprehensive academic plan with significant cross-connections, a coherent plan for capital projects, and a fundraising plan that posits wise, focused, and efficient use of all dollars raised.
We strongly endorse such an intense, active all-university planning process. We call for generous and intensive faculty participation in this process and in the capital-campaign planning that will follow. As the 2020 Commissions demonstrated, faculty involvement can ensure that planning and related fundraising are anchored in the core institutional missions of teaching, research, and service, given that these missions are realized chiefly by the faculty. By engaging the faculty in planning, the university can engender in the faculty greater awareness of institutional goals and of the ways their own goals complement these; greater faculty investment in fundraising goals; and greater faculty allegiance to the university.
Careful planning for the university's future, especially when resources are scarce, must be about more than programs and buildings; it also must be about the excellence of the faculty, for it is the faculty who will enliven those programs and places. Faculty who joined the university decades ago shared U.Va.'s high ambitions then to become a leading national research university; these men and women, now our senior faculty, have invested their careers in this effort. We appreciate today the tremendous challenges to the university of staying in the top tier, much less of moving up. We appreciate too the difficulty of recruiting and retaining the best younger faculty, the next generation of scholars and teachers. We realize, though, that a vibrant community of first-rate faculty is at the heart of the university's continued success. Building the university for 2020 is an enterprise in which current faculty should share fully, for the yield of that effort will be, above all, the faculty of our future.