July 7-20, 2000
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Elevating the University, physically and academically

Staff Report

Several presentations made during the Board of Visitors meeting last month showed new visions for elevating the University, from the concrete -- the Groundswalk that will add walkways over roads -- to the intellectual -- a new interdisciplinary emphasis bridging computer science in engineering and information technology in humanities that would raise U.Va.'s standing in this emerging field.

The board also established two new endowed professorships and heard a review of U.Va.'s compliance with recommendations in the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education.

See the full report of the June 15-17 Board of Visitors meeting in the June 23 Inside UVA Online.

U.Va. should build up new discipline

The University should create a new cross-disciplinary center combining computer and information sciences and engineering, said computer science professor Anita Jones, who chairs the Virginia 2020 Science and Technology Planning Commission.

Speaking to the board's Educational Policy Committee last month, she said her commission is recommending in its report to President John T. Casteen III a plan to create a new set of "bridge" programs that would allow students to take computer-related courses in different schools for new interdisciplinary majors.

Computer and information sciences and engineering combined have emerged as a "substantial intellectual discipline" (called CISE) that fuels advances in hardware and software, but also can be applied to every academic discipline, she said.

The University is presently limited in resources and the number of faculty devoted to the new discipline, Jones said, but it should be developed here and would advance U.Va.'s academic standing in science and technology.

Jones proposed retooling the Shannon Center for Advanced Studies, which was originally established to recruit world-class faculty but has languished without funding in recent years, as a good place through which to coordinate the effort. Because it doesn't belong to any one school or department, it could provide a framework for new faculty to work together across disciplines (though they would still be hired into departments). A physical location is needed, she said, adding that a new building in the Engineering School dedicated to CISE is a top priority, but another facility will probably be needed that is connected with Arts & Sciences.

Methods of retrieving, presenting and electronically manipulating data are creating a new form of scholarly research. Bridge programs that combine courses from different schools in using emerging technologies might be similar to the kind of projects begun through U.Va.'s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, she suggested. New undergraduate and graduate majors in computer science could be established between Arts & Sciences and the Engineering School, she said. Right now there is neither a B.S. degree in computer science nor a related program in Arts & Sciences.

"I'd love to see a Bachelor of Arts program where you have a double-major in computer science and another subject," she said. More information technology courses are needed that go beyond the skill-oriented short courses offered by ITC and the library, such as the Introduction to Media Studies course being developed.

"If money were not an issue, how soon could this get going?" asked board member William H. Goodwin Jr.

"There's a lot we could do in the next two years," Jones replied.

Board members expressed concern that students are not able to enroll in existing computer science and information technology courses, which Jones said were oversubscribed.

Vice President for Development Robert D. Sweeney sounded an enthusiastic note, saying that donors may be interested in supporting this kind of initiative.

Re-visioning the University

Colette Sheehy, vice president for management and budget, said that phase one of the planned University Groundswalk, which will include a bridge and connecting walkway across Emmet Street to the Lambeth Colonnade, is scheduled to be completed by fall of 2002. She also mentioned that another pedestrian bridge is being planned over University Avenue to connect the Carr's Hill precinct with Central Grounds near the Chapel.

Sheehy then introduced a discussion on arts precinct design issues, which Casteen said would be the first of many talks about how to approach the challenges facing the University as it plans buildings for this "transitional area" on Grounds. He warned that the University's general design guidelines might not always apply explaining that the needs of the buildings -- in particular the natural light demanded in a studio art building -- would have to dictate their design.

Casteen said that he had been studying studio art buildings at other universities and that University Architect Pete Anderson had been compiling a collection of photographs from around the country. "I think this is going to be fun to work through," Casteen said, "but it also poses issues different from what we've dealt with before."

New professorships and residence hall name approved

The board established two new endowed professorships, bringing the total number to 444. It also named the new residence hall located with the Alderman Road dormitories.

An anonymous benefactor has given the School of Nursing its largest-ever outright gift, $1 million, to endow the new Centennial Distinguished Professorship in Pediatric Nursing.

A new endowed chair in pediatrics was also created, the Robert J. Roberts Professorship, in memory of the former chair of the department and director of the Children's Medical Center, who died in January 1997. The professorship has been funded with gifts and commitments from the pediatrics department, the Charles A. Dana Foundation and the Office of the Vice President and Provost of the Health System.

U.Va.'s newest first-year dormitory, under construction in the Alderman Road dormitories area, will be named Woody House in honor of the late T. Braxton Woody, an alumnus and member of the faculty in Romance languages for 43 years. While serving as assistant dean of the College, Woody was tapped in 1968 to head the committee that studied and later recommended full coeducation.

Board complying with recommendations

Gordon F. Rainey Jr., the U.Va. board member on the ad hoc committee that examined the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education Report, said that the group had done a detailed review of the recommendations and concluded that "with one exception, we're in full compliance."

The exception involves the recommendation that "each institution's budget requests to the Governor and General Assembly should be accompanied by a certification by the Board of Visitors that it has reviewed and considered the request ..." The timing of the state budget and the schedule of U.Va. Board of Visitors meetings has made it difficult to incorporate time for board members to look at the budget. It was decided that a copy of the final budget would be mailed to each member of the board for review.

Of the 73 Commission recommendations, Rainey said that a dozen applied to boards of visitors. He went through all 12, noting what was being done now and what might be done in the future to further enhance compliance. He referred several recommendations -- including one regarding core curriculum and another on grade inflation -- to the Educational Policy Committee for future discussion.

Correction:
In the June 23 Inside UVA article on the Board of Visitors June 15-17 meeting, the first mention of the board's approval of the endowment income distribution should have said it will be an increase of 30 percent, up to $13.6 million.

 

In other business:

  • The board agreed to issue bonds for construction projects at the Darden School, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the College at Wise;

  • The board approved the design for the Monroe Lane student residence project, a larger student residence facility on Jefferson Park Avenue that will replace the present Gildersleeve Apartment building; and

  • This year's College at Wise Samuel R. Crockett Award went to former board member Champ Clark, whom Chancellor Jay Lemons called "a beloved person in Southwest Virginia."

-- Rebecca Arrington, Anne Bromley and Carol Wood contributed to this report.

Note: Faculty Actions are listed in this issue of Inside UVA Online and will be published in an August issue.

 


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