Nov. 12-18, 1999
Health premiums to rise
Commission emphasizes primary role and breadth of public service in the University's mission
Mini-Med School

Computers marry maps, data and produce new insights

Rimel advocates renewed civic action -- nation is in need, she says
From the desk of ... Dolly Prenzel
Hot Links - Biological clocks
Biotech center launches careers, answers a need in the community
Illuminating reflections: Bibliographical devices reveal which is which
Research Computing Support Center opens
Scholarship created for E-school employees' children
Marriage benefits men by giving them positive identity, book asserts
Cavalier sports fans have many cheering options

From the desk of...
Dolly Prenzel, U.Va. Community Relations Director

A community relations program at any university exists to facilitate communication between the institution and the external community and to promote the development of mutually beneficial relationships between the two. The program has two components: the "official program" endorsed by the administration and carried out by the individual assigned that responsibility, and the environment in which the official program functions.

The institution's students, staff, faculty and leaders create the environment as they go about their normal lives, on and off the job, through their actions and contacts with people inside and outside the university. When members of the U.Va. community are seen as responsible citizens and leaders who contribute to the welfare of the greater community, it reflects positively on the institution as a whole.

In our local community, we are frequently called to respond to needs outside the boundaries of the University. These requests may come on or off the job, and may or may not be voiced. As University employees, it is up to each of us to look for opportunities to help and to serve.

For example, a family touring the University may obviously need directions. A patient may require special assistance. A governmental organization may need technical assistance. A business associate may ask us to serve on the board of a local social service organization. A civic group may need volunteers to deliver Thanksgiving turkeys to families in need. A citizen may have a complaint. Do we respond, or ignore the need? The choices we make as individuals help determine how the University is seen within the greater community where we live.

We are, in a sense, ambassadors for the University as we go about our daily lives, on and off the job. While some of us would like to separate our personal lives from where we work or go to school, most of us have found that to be difficult or impossible. Because we are U.Va. employees, people listen to what we say and watch what we do. We are expected to know and understand the position of the University on every matter. While it is not possible for any individual to know everything about the University or the positions it takes, it is important that each of us possess a basic understanding of the total University, its facilities, services and programs. It is also important that we make every effort to be courteous and helpful to anyone who seeks assistance from the University or us as individuals.

This is an awesome responsibility for our students, staff and faculty. However, in my work in the community, I find that almost all of us handle that responsibility very well. Our students are generally seen as responsible and well-mannered, and our faculty and staff are often cited for their work in the community and contributions to local civic and social service organizations. When unresolved problems come to my attention, it is usually because the parties have not considered the problem from each other's perspective as human beings. One of the parties is still wearing his official University hat, and the other individual is still wearing her official outsider hat. We must take off our hats, sit down and talk if we hope to solve problems.

I would like to hear from members of the University community on any community relations matter. For example, where are the greatest opportunities in community relations? How can we educate members of the University community in their responsibilities as ambassadors for the University? How can the University address the "elitist" image, which is sometimes mentioned? You can write to me at Booker House, call me at 924-1321, or send me e-mail at


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of the University of Virginia

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