May 3-9, 2002
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Casteen discusses employee issues, academic mission
Gift to provide $5M for Arts Grounds
Elwood, key figure in U.Va.’s desegregation, dies
Center promotes value of politics and importance of civic-mindedness

Pedalin’ professor weaned himself from his wheels

Letters -- letter from Eugenio Schettini
Hot Links -- Office of the Architect
Graduate assistants receive teaching awards
Summer camps to keep kids busy
Politics 101: Gov. Warner addresses students

Casteen discusses employee issues, academic mission

President John T. Casteen III
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
President John T. Casteen III

By Anne Bromley

The University will weather the state’s financial woes and emerge stronger, as it did in the ’90s during the state’s last budget crisis, said President John T. Casteen III in his annual address April 24. Speaking to faculty, staff, administrators and students in Old Cabell Auditorium, Casteen discussed several topics “that have interested the University community in recent times and that seem to me to be serious matters for the present and the future” — salary issues, budget cuts and future plans.

The values that were part of Thomas Jefferson’s dream in founding the University have enabled it to evolve as times have changed, he reminded members of the University community. U.Va. will continue to offer an education to talented students against the backdrop of human freedom because today’s knowledgeable students become tomorrow’s citizens.

“Our founder believed that free minds are the seed bed of free nations,” he said.
Therefore, students and their experience remain the primary commitment of all who work at U.Va. Besides conducting curriculum and other reviews of the student experience, the University is expanding research and international opportunities for students, reflecting U.Va.’s place in the global community, he said.

Since the General Assembly just adjourned, Casteen said “all of the pieces are finally on the table and we can assess the damage done and the remedies available. I am convinced that the crisis is survivable.”

Despite state cuts from general funds of $25 million in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, and $33 million the following year, U.Va. will set aside money to give an average 5 percent raise to faculty who have been promoted or received tenure. This will aid in retaining faculty whom U.Va. may be at risk of losing to other universities.

“It’s hard to identify where we might be at risk. We must ask deans and department heads to tell us,” Casteen said.

Other faculty — teaching and administrative — will be eligible for an average 2.5 percent bonus payment based on merit.

With the state freeze lifted, increasing tuition by 9 percent will replace about half of the appropriation cuts coming in the next biennium. Casteen acknowledged, however, that for the students “these increases are real, and they matter to those who must budget the dollars to pay for them.”

As a result of the budget cuts, vacancies in 26 faculty and 20 graduate teaching assistant positions will not be filled. That will put pressure on class size and availability, Casteen said. As the University seeks ways to increase graduate student support, it will also be one of the top features in the next fund-raising campaign.

U.Va. has sought to protect classified employees from layoffs, but 35 positions will be eliminated through attrition, he said. In lieu of salary increases, classified staff will get a 2.5 percent bonus or 10 additional days of paid leave, or a combination of the two options, in August. The Medical Center has also made the commitment to give the same bonus to its employees.

Casteen also addressed the call for increasing wages of contracted workers, saying the situation is more complicated than has been portrayed and the University cannot require companies to pay their employees a certain wage.

“Several factors, including the cost passed on to the students and patients who ultimately pay most of the bills for contractors’ services, figure in contracting out work. We look for fair prices, high quality and certainly for contractors with a track record of fair treatment of employees,” he said. While the University will continue to monitor these factors, Casteen suggested that organizers try other avenues, such as going to the General Assembly, the state attorney general’s office or directly to the contracted businesses.

He mentioned that the controversial planned parking garage between Emmet Street and Ivy Road is an essential adjunct to some of the key capital projects, such as a new basketball arena and a performing arts center. Although he sympathized with Lewis Mountain Road neighborhood residents, he said he didn’t know of a better choice and that the University will do all that it can to alleviate traffic congestion.

More positive aspects of the current financial scenario, he said, include the capital bond referendum the legislature approved, as well as continued high levels of private support. The $1.2 billion bond package addresses “critical infrastructure needs that will support key academic projects.”

“The saving grace now, as in the last state crisis, is private fund-raising,” Casteen said. Philanthropy is not a panacea, and all but about 3 percent of donations come with strings attached, he explained.

Among plans and aspirations for the future: to expand interdisciplinary and study-abroad programs, to develop efforts that support and promote diversity; to advance in the sciences and technology and to become a center for the arts.

Casteen made a point of thanking the University community — alumni, students, faculty, staff, employee councils, neighbors, the Board of Visitors and members of the advisory groups — for their suggestions and comments that have been “remarkably useful and often simply brilliant.

“I am grateful to you and awed by your determination and courage and aspirations. Each of us counts, each member of the University has a role in building for today and tomorrow.”


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of the University of Virginia

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