Feb. 28, March 13, 2003
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Funding: Issue dominates Faculty Senate meeting

By Matt Kelly

Speaking before the Faculty Senate on Feb. 13, U.Va. President John T. Casteen III predicted the General Assembly would approve a tuition cap and that the governor will not veto it.

Mouse-over to see 2002-2003 Revenue from Tuition & Fees

Sure enough, after much wrangling state legislators approved a cap on tuition for in-state undergraduate students (see related story, Legislature: Cuts, caps and salary raises).

The final version of the state’s budget has been sent to Gov. Mark Warner.

U.Va.’s Board of Visitors last spring increased tuition for in-state undergraduate students by 8.8 percent for the current school year. As additional budget cuts were made, it added a $385 surcharge for this semester.

Casteen said the legislators, who last year condoned tuition increases in the wake of earlier state budget cuts, were concerned about re-election.

“They realized there are elections in November and they can’t deal with what they told us to do six months ago,” Casteen said.

He expressed concern about the impact of a tuition cap on the University’s program, how it ranks with other schools in comparative surveys and its ability to raise private money.

Turning the University private is not the answer to its problems, Casteen said, noting that such a move would require an endowment between $10 billion and $12 billion. While fund-raising efforts have been “excellent,” Casteen cautioned that stock market downturns endanger gifts. As the economy slows, $2.5 million gifts to the endowment have been reduced to $500,000 gifts.

“I hear this every day now,” he said. “We need more donors.”

In other matters, the Faculty Senate approved a committee report on faculty involvement in University planning. Presented by Marcia Childress, chairwoman of the Research and Scholarship Committee, and former Senate Chairman Rob Grainger, the report calls for faculty participation in the next capital campaign and re-establishing planning committees similar to those used in the Virginia 2020 process. The report will be forwarded to Vice President and Provost Gene Block.

Childress said active faculty involvement would be a boon for both the University and faculty, since it would sustain faculty morale.

The Senate also approved without comment a plan for an undergraduate biomedical engineering degree, which was presented by Academic Affairs Committee chairman Robert W. O’Connell.

O’Connell also presented recommendations for faculty participation in an online course evaluation program, which sparked extensive debate. O’Connell recommended the Senate ask Block to appoint an academic leader for the project, that a faculty advisory panel be created, and that a written agreement among departments codify the evaluations’ basic structure. After discussion, the measures were amended to include more student participation as well.

The Senate passed O’Connell’s recommendation with a lone no vote, and senators agreed that many of the points they had argued would be best left to the faculty advisory board to work out.


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