Oct. 13-19, 2000
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Envisioning the University transformed: Casteen seeks comment on 2020 reports

Staff reports

After an estimated 25,000 person-hours -- many spent in biweekly meetings beginning as early as 7:30 a.m., and many more spent late at night basking in the glow of computer monitors -- the 122 members of the four Virginia 2020 planning commissions have released their recommendations.

Now it's your turn. The four reports, on Science and Technology, the Fine and Performing Arts, Public Service and International Activities, are published at http://www.virginia.edu/virginia2020. The next step is a period of review and comment open to the entire University community -- faculty, staff, alumni and students.

Virginia 2020 Activities

January 1999

Four planning commissions begin meeting
School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers U.Va.'s first international full-credit, distance-learning course, "Technology and Human Development," taught by Engineering School professor Mark Shields to students in Turkey

September & October 1999

Commissions attend workshops with representatives from other universities on benchmarking best practices in their respective areas

March 2000

General Assembly approves funding for construction of studio art building and for planning renovation of Fayerweather Hall
A new language house, to be built on Monroe Lane and completed by fall 2002, approved

April 2000

Institutional and private funding support feasibility study of Carr's Hill Arts Grounds

May 2000

$1 million Venture Fund for Excellence in Science and Technology is announced
An international residential college will be housed in Sprigg Lane dormitories by next fall

September 2000

William B. Quandt appointed vice provost for international affairs
SCOLA, which brings in international television broadcasts via satellite, reconnected at U.Va.
New undergraduate language study program started in Lyon, France

October 2000

Engineering School wins $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a new Center for Nanoscopic Design
New independent foundation for biomedical research created
"Outreach Virginia" Web site for U.Va.'s public service launched


Publication of Arts Magazine and departmental newsletters for art, music and drama

The recommendations are exciting. A thriving arts precinct. Undergraduate students regularly taking "fifth years" abroad. Interdisciplinary centers pushing the envelope of information technology. New ways to share the University's knowledge with the world.

They are also expensive. The cost of the capital projects identified in the Fine and Performing Arts report alone is nearly $192 million, plus nearly $3 million in additional annual support and $60 million in new endowments. The Science and Technology plans are even costlier, with a total estimated price tag of $800 million.

Getting this far has been a long but deliberate process. University President John T. Casteen III first proposed the planning effort in his March 1998 "State of the University" address, and the Board of Visitors endorsed the concept later that year.

After much preliminary work, the commissions began meeting in January 1999. Their charge was nothing less than envisioning the University transformed in 2020, with areas of current relative weakness as newfound strengths.

"All of us owe debts of gratitude to the commission chairs and members," Casteen said. "Their hard work over many months gives us something few universities have ever had -- comprehensive visions not bound to individual disciplines or departments of what the University can hope to become as it adapts, works outside the customary limits, and grows accustomed to working at the leading edge in fields that have historically never had quite the means to be the nation's best."

Casteen and chief planning officer Laurie Kelsh will gather comments this fall through several sources, including online forms at the Virginia 2020 Web site that will be available throughout the fall semester.

The reports will also be discussed at separate retreats for deans and vice presidents this month, and again in November at a gathering of young alumni and at Casteen's All-University retreat. Finally, all four reports will be discussed at the Board of Visitors meeting Jan. 18-20.

What will eventually emerge are implementation plans, funding plans and timetables for program enhancement, facilities, support operations and fund raising.

"If we do our jobs well and honestly in the next several months, if we analyze strategies and calculate ways and means, and seek out consensus on genuinely hard issues, we can hope to see transformations of many kinds," Casteen said.

"These reports are a grand beginning toward the goal of finding new areas of strength, new centers of excellence, even as we sustain and build excellence where it already exists."

Fine and Performing Arts

"By 2020, our goal is to have the arts at the University of Virginia thought of immediately as one of the great strengths of the institution," said Robert Chapel, drama professor and chair of the Commission on the Fine and Performing Arts. "We also want students who wish to study the arts, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels, to automatically think of the University as a top choice among schools."

Already there is much activity surrounding the commission's recommendations with the arts precinct on Carr's Hill, planned as a hub of creative life, on the way to becoming a reality. A $9 million appropriation from the General Assembly for construction of a new Studio Arts building as well as funding to plan the renovation of Fayerweather Hall, has allowed these first two projects to proceed. With funding from both institutional and private sources, architectural firms are working on feasibility studies for a new music building, a new comprehensive library to serve all the arts, an addition to the drama building, an addition to the School of Architecture and a new University Art Museum. In addition, a performing arts building is being planned for a nearby site across University Avenue near Memorial Gym and Alderman Library.

Other major recommendations include: greater emphasis on recruiting undergraduate student artists; expanding existing programs, establishing honors programs, and creating new graduate programs in the arts; building an undergraduate program in dance and movement; developing collaborative arts projects and interdisciplinary courses to strengthen the University's recognition of the arts as a key component of a liberal arts education.

To promote the University's art image as well as its programs, one of the recommendations was to develop publications targeted to key student and alumni audiences. One-time funding for an arts magazine and newsletters for each of the departments -- art, music and drama -- has pushed these publications forward.

International Activities

The University of Virginia hopes to come from behind its peer institutions in supporting international activities with new initiatives stemming from the Virginia 2020 Commission on International Activities.

There are many exciting activities already under way, especially faculty research projects abroad, including Richard Guerrant's international medicine program in Brazil and the architecture program in Italy. Yet when it comes to foreign language study abroad, only about 16 percent of U.Va. students study overseas at some point in their college careers, less than half of the 44 percent of Duke University students who participate.

One of the primary goals of the international commission is to boost student participation in foreign study programs to 80 percent of the student body by 2020, according to William Quandt, the recently appointed vice provost of international affairs.

"We need to help identify and create these programs and make information easily available to students," Quandt said. "Over the next several years, we'd like to increase the proportion of students studying abroad to close to 30 percent. We realize a lot of work must be done to make this possible."

Among its goals, the commission proposes to internationalize the curriculum, host more foreign students and scholars, foster international liaisons and exchanges and sponsor international activities.

The commission also found that U.Va. needs to beef up the infrastructure that supports foreign students and scholars studying here as well as for the U.Va. students who study abroad, but recommendations did not include a suggested budget. For comparison, Bruce Kuniholm, vice provost for international affairs at Duke University, said his institution has earmarked $20 million in the current capital campaign to fund international initiatives.

Another recommendation calls for establishing three centers: a Center for International Medicine that will build on U.Va.'s existing strengths in that area, an International Institute of American Studies, extending U.Va.'s strengths in faculty and library collections in the field, and an Institute of American Language and Culture to promote the teaching of English as a second language.

Public Service and Outreach

During its study, the Commission on Public Service and Outreach learned that every school at U.Va. is engaged in outreach activities, and every city and county in the Commonwealth benefits from U.Va.'s public service.

As a nationally ranked public research institution, U.Va. is well-positioned to make a difference in its local community, the Commonwealth, the nation and the world, the commission members conclude in their final report. Thus it is critical to let constituents know that the University is their partner in meeting the challenges facing our society.

"We've made the case over the last 15 months that we continue to uncover more and more outreach efforts [made by faculty and staff]. What's missing is the administrative staffing to make those efforts more visible to the public and better coordinated within the University," said education professor Rebecca Kneedler, who chaired the commission.

For its purposes, the commission focused primarily on academic service, defining it as "the application of scholarly knowledge and professional expertise to the health, economic, educational, civic and environmental needs of the public."

Based on its review, the commission found University programs strong in the following five areas: civic engagement and public policy; economic and business development; education, both K-12 and lifelong learning; the environment, both planned and natural; and health.

The University should institute ways to support and reward academic faculty for their contributions, like other schools do, Kneedler said. The commission found models of such programs at other universitites, including Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill.

"To achieve excellence in outreach by 2020," the report says, "U.Va. must focus and apply its expertise to issues of public concern, work in partnership with the public on these issues, demonstrate its commitment to public service and outreach, and increase the visibility of its many contributions to public life."

Science and Technology

The Science and Technology Planning Commission has developed seven strategic recommendations designed to advance the University in coming years as a national leader in selected areas of the sciences and technology, and to broadly enhance all related disciplines. The commission notes that technology is enabling changes from stem to stern and is proposing that the University substantially strengthen its science and engineering programs across the board. The expected cost over the next 20 years, if funded fully, is $800 million.

Three recommendations focus on new initiatives: to establish a University-wide Information Initiative with goals to build international leadership in computer and information science and engineering, by creating multidisciplinary bridge programs in these areas and developing related world-class education programs; to establish an Institute for Quantum and Nanoscale Science and Engineering; and to create an interdisciplinary Institute for Biodifferentiation. The latter area is an emerging field of biomedicine which seeks greater understanding of how cells, tissues and organs acquire form and function, and of the cell processes that lead to disease conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

Broader, long-term recommendations include: supporting strategic new faculty appointments with stable, long-lived resources to fund start-up costs; devoting resources to improve the quality of graduate education and to attract the nation's best graduate students; and establishing a long-lived Fund for Excellence in Science and Technology. The University also should strengthen central leadership for a broadly based strategy for improving science and engineering, and empower this leadership with resources to implement strategically important programs.

"Our intent is to dramatically strengthen science and technology across the board in medicine, in [Arts & Sciences], and in engineering, and to move several disciplines into the top ranks nationally," said computer science professor Anita Jones, chair of the Science and Technology Planning Commission. "By 2020, we want to see five programs in the National Research Council's top 10 percentile and 10 programs in the top 20 percentile ranking."


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