March 3-9 , 2000
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In Memoriam

Housing rates increased; rector backs more active role for board

By Rebecca Arrington, Anne Bromley and Dan Heuchert

he Board of Visitors took care of some regular business, such as setting student housing rates, and considered recent issues, such as the impact on fraternities of changing the date for Greek rush, at its Feb. 25 and 26 meeting. Rector John P. Ackerly III suggested that the board seriously consider recommendations in the governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education that boards of visitors take a more active role in academic matters.

With the board's sanction, the University now has a 10th school -- the Continuing Education Division was renamed the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Housing rates to go up

The Finance Committee approved a 3.8 percent average increase in student housing rates, in part to address increasing maintenance demands. Still, double-occupancy rates remain well below the statewide average.

An audit of housing facilities completed in 1997 identified the need for specific major repairs, said Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, who noted that over half of U.Va.'s housing facilities are more than 30 years old.

Other business
  • Designs approved for expansions of Darden and Law schools and the Miller Center
  • Five new endowed professorships established
  • Health System received reacreditation

The University has devised a 10-year program to address maintenance needs, and is currently reserving $3 million per year to fund them -- a figure Sandridge hopes to increase to $3.5 million annually with 1 percent annual boosts in housing rates over the next three or four years.

U.Va.'s average rate for a double room in the current school year is $631 less than the state average of $2,690 per year for public four-year institutions -- the third least-expensive rate in the state, trailing only Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Tech.

School of Continuing and Professional Studies

The board approved without fanfare restoring the school status to the Continuing Education Division. The name has changed a few times during its 80-some years. For example, in 1971 it was called the School of Continuing Education, which was then replaced with "Division" in 1977.

Changing its name to "School of Continuing and Professional Studies" not only enhances its status, but will make its degrees and programs more marketable, said Vice President and Provost Peter W. Low. The new name will appropriately recognize the importance of continuing education within and outside the University community, and will send a strong message that life-long learning and educational outreach are valued enterprises, he said. It is also more consistent with similar units at other universities.

Impact of moving Greek rush

In a surprise move, the Student Affairs and Athletics Committee passed a resolution that left the door ajar to reconsidering a change in fraternity and sorority rush dates.

The move of first-year rush from the fall to spring semesters, announced in 1998 by then-Dean of Students Robert T. Canevari, arose from recommendations from the Faculty Senate and a University-wide task force on alcohol abuse. They suggested that the delay would give incoming students time to acclimate themselves to the University before making major commitments.

The Inter-Fraternity and Inter-Sorority councils have continued to campaign against the change, arguing that the shift infringed upon the University's tradition of student self-governance and caused Greek houses financial hardship resulting from the loss of one semester's dues from new members.

Committee chair Henry L. Valentine II offered what he called a "compromise resolution," which passed by unanimous voice vote.

While generally supportive of fraternities and sororities, the board declined to get involved in setting rush dates -- "unless it is established at a future date that the delay of rush seriously prejudices the financial stability of fraternities and sororities." It directed the administration to "promote the good health and strength of the fraternity and sorority systems" and to report back on its actions at the June meeting.

Student representative Robert Schoenvogel asked the board to more closely define financial instability, but received no further clarification. Vice President for Student Affairs William H. Harmon said it was difficult to obtain reliable financial data and to determine how much financial hardship was attributable to the rush date change, citing a "strong suspicion" that some houses do not maintain adequate records.

Harmon reaffirmed his support for the Greek system, and said, "I don't think anybody in the administration of the University wants to see the demise of fraternities and sororities."

Afterward, Faculty Senate chair David T. Gies was supportive of the resolution. "It seems like an appropriate move," he said. "They have been besieged with phone calls from one side. In essence, what the resolution said was, 'Please quit calling us, and we'll have Student Affairs look into it.'"

U.Va. rector supports taking more active role
In remarks during the preliminary meeting, Rector John P. Ackerly III suggested the Board of Visitors move quickly to adopt recommendations from the report of the governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education that boards of visitors take a more active role in examining curriculum, grade inflation and faculty review. He cited the report's recommendations that boards:
  • review their institution's general-education curriculum every six years;
  • "carefully examine" the average grades of its graduates for signs of grade inflation;
  • monitor the tenure and faculty performance review processes to make sure that they "encourage and support the dedication of time and energy to undergraduate teaching";
  • require that "implementation of Š post-tenure review policy be tracked and reported as institutional priorities";
  • and "become familiar with various alternatives to tenure currently in use around the country, in particular the use of short- and long-term contracts."
Ackerly asked that administrators review the recommendations and report back to the board at its April meeting. He noted that while other aspects of the report were still before the General Assembly, "I think this is fixed and we ought to be careful to comply with it."

Building updates

Board of Visitors member Albert H. Small, a professional engineer who has served two full terms on the board, chaired his final Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting Feb. 25. He said he has tried to think about how new buildings will represent the University at least 50 to 75 years from now.

In thanking Small for his contribution, Rector John P. Ackerly III said, "With your esteemed career, you've brought a real talent to this committee. We all appreciate that."

The board gave the green light to preliminary designs for expansions to the Darden and Law schools and the Miller Center of Public Affairs, with one slight change to the addition planned for Sponsors Hall at Darden. The preliminary design phase is the final step requiring board approval before construction. In order to make way for the latter two projects, the board approved the demolitions of a small house behind the Miller Center and of Café North near the Law School. The Darden and Miller Center projects are scheduled to begin in August and the Law School's in November.

As part of a plan to enhance the University's foreign language houses, the board also authorized tearing down the Gildersleeve apartment building on Monroe Lane, along with two houses, to build a new residence hall that will bring together Russian, German and Asian houses. Earlier, the University considered renovating the existing building, but it would have been too expensive.

The University plans to build a new residence hall on Monroe Lane that will bring together Russian, German and Asian houses. With the nearby French and Spanish houses, the block will become an area dedicated to an international focus.

The Monroe Lane Residence Project, estimated to cost $7 million, will be a four-story building for 80 students plus faculty and graduate advisers, emphasizing communal living with common lounge areas on each floor and kitchen and dining facilities. With the nearby French and Spanish houses, the block will become an area dedicated to an international focus.

Architect for the University Samuel A. "Pete" Andersen III also told the board initial plans are being made to enhance Blandy Experimental Farm, located near Winchester. Andersen said visitation has increased three-fold in the last 10 years and is expected to continue, because of the population growth in that area. The master plan for the farm calls for raising funds to build a visitor's center to improve public education, plus a new road and bike and foot paths to make the research lands more accessible.

Health Affairs Committee

The University's Health System has received reaccreditation for inpatient and ambulatory services from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Dr. Robert Cantrell, vice president and provost of the Health System, told the board at its Feb. 25 health affairs meeting. The accreditation is effective for three years.

The Health System's score of 94 is a one-point increase over that earned in 1996, despite a more stringent survey process, Cantrell noted. Most hospitals' scores dropped by 20 percent compared to prior surveys, according to statistics from JCAHO, which evaluates and accredits more than 19,500 health care organizations nationwide. "This remarkable achievement is attributable to the excellent skills and dedication of the Health System's employees," he said.

At the meeting, board members also approved two conflict of interest exemptions and heard a Medical Center financial report.

The board granted one exemption for a sponsored research contract and material transfer agreement between the School of Medicine and Upstate Biotechnology, Inc., for developing gene therapy for slow-growing brain tumors and prostate cancer. C. David Allis, Byrd Professor of Microbiology, is working with the New York-based company on this venture.

The other exemption the board approved involves the medical school and DirectGene, Inc., developing adenoviral-based gene therapies for cancer and bone repair. Leland W.K. Chung, professor of urology and cell biology, along with three other U.Va. faculty members and one graduate student, are involved in this project.

Larry Fitzgerald, assistant vice president for Health System finance, reported that the Medical Center's revenue of $272 million for the first seven months of this fiscal year is roughly $1.6 million above the projected budget and about equal to last year's.

He also reported that the operating expenses of $261 million -- the containment of which is "key to our long-term success" -- is below last year's figure of $266.6 million, and slightly below what's budgeted for this year.

The $10.9 million operating margin (revenue less operating expenses) meets the Medical Center's aim of maintaining a 4 percent operating margin, he said.

Fitzgerald also noted that the number of full-time employees stands at 4,411 for the first seven months of this fiscal year, down from last year and below the budget of 4,554. There's an "acute labor shortage" of nurses and medical technicians here and nationwide, he said, because of the economy, for one reason.

"Why work nights and weekends when you can make the same living, about $40,000 to $50,000 per year, in a [less demanding] field such as programming?" he said.

Responding to board member Terence Ross' question as to how U.Va. is addressing this need, Cantrell said the Health System is looking at expanding its operating room technician program and has expanded its radiology tech program. Ross asked for a more complete report at the June meeting.

Endowed chairs

The board established the following five new endowed chairs, bringing the total to 426: the Sidman P. Poole Professorship in Environmental Sciences; the Elwood R. Quesada Professorship in Architecture; the Ward K. Ensminger Professorship in Geriatric Medicine; the Edward W. Hook Distinguished Professorship in Internal Medicine; and the John W. Kluge Professorship in Urology.

Other business

€ University Treasurer Alice Handy reported that the University's endowment has added more than $300 million over the past seven months, and stood at $1.56 billion as of Jan. 31. She attributed much of the increase to successful private equity investments. Over the past three years, the endowment has grown at a 22.5 percent annual rate, easily outpacing the 6.9 percent combined rate of inflation and spending.

€ The board approved the purchase of property on the east side of Emmet Street, at the intersection of Emmet and Massie Road, to support future growth and to enhance one of the University's main corridors.

€ The board also approved U.Va.'s purchase of the Augusta County Dialysis Center, a kidney dialysis unit, and authorized the sale of land at the north end of the U4 parking lot, near the intersection of Wertland and 14th streets, to the Renaissance Investment Corporation.

€ Vice President for Development Robert Sweeney reported that fund raising for athletics -- and the football stadium enlargement in particular -- is "going remarkably well." The athletics campaign has already raised $21.8 million of the $31 million goal to support the stadium project, and 33 of the 44 luxury suites have been leased.

€ Stephen S. Phelan Jr., a second-year Law student, was elected to a one-year term as the new student board member. Phelan is a 1998 Arts & Sciences graduate who also played football.

Additional reports to the board and Faculty Actions will appear in upcoming issues of Inside UVA.

Board of Visitors meetings for the remainder of the academic year:

€ April 14 and 15
€ June 16 and 17


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