Feb. 13-26, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 3
Back Issues
A Bold Plan
Turner: ‘The journey continues’
Raising the Bar
Headlines @ U.Va.
Research yields insight into working families
Team designs computer model to predict pathways of blood vessels
Yvonne Hubbard levels the playing field
Board discusses diversity, tuition and more
Faculty Actions
‘Traditions of Exemplary Women’
U.Va. Health System reaches out to uninsured
Linda Layne discusses pregnancy, feminism and health
Poet-critic Alan Williamson here as Rea Visiting Writer
‘Dada DJ’ and friends spin the vinyl Feb. 17
Manned Mars missions on the horizon

Board discusses diversity, tuition and more
Plans include bolstering science and engineering and moving Varsity Hall

From Staff Reports

Over the course of three days last week, the Board of Visitors tackled a number of large issues, including a new financial aid plan (see story, page 1), diversity, tuition and a science and technology initiative.

At a meeting of the board’s Special Committee on Diversity, committee chairman Warren M. Thompson joined Angela M. Davis and Michael J. Smith, co-chairs of the president’s Commission on Diversity and Equity, in arguing for the creation of a high-level position to oversee the process of creating a more integrated culture of diversity on Grounds.

The person hired into this new position, Thompson said, would spearhead diversity efforts “in the near future and beyond” and would “bring about the results we want.”

Such focused attention would help produce “visible, viable and sustainable change” in the culture, said Smith, who also cautioned that diversity efforts this time “really must be different, or we risk losing our place as a leader among public institutions and as a university that rises to the challenge of preparing itself and its students for the diverse world of the 21st century.”

Smith and Davis outlined the work being done by four subgroups of the commission, noting that their findings would be reported to the board in May.

During the diversity committee meeting, board members also heard from three students about “Sustained Dialogue,” a student effort to cultivate and understand diversity through ongoing small-group discussions. “It has shown me [that] students can change the racial climate here,” said Priya Parker, co-founder and past chairwoman of the initiative.

The Finance Committee meeting held a preliminary discussion about tuition, while casting a wary eye towards Richmond, where a major budget battle was under way.

Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the legislature’s so-called money committees are “trying to be flexible” with public colleges and universities by not imposing tuition controls. But, he warned, a second straight year of double-digit increases would not be received favorably.

There were strong hints that in-state students might feel an additional tuition pinch this fall. Sandridge noted that out-of-state tuition typically has been roughly 2.5 times higher than in-state, but several years of in-state tuition freezes and then a state-mandated in-state rollback has left that ratio at about 4-to-1.

Sandridge suggested a “correction” to edge the tuition levels closer to their historic relationship, a notion seconded by outgoing Finance Committee chairman William H. Goodwin Jr., who noted that many in-state parents pay more for private secondary education than they do to attend U.Va., which costs $5,935 per year in-state, compared to $21,955 out-of-state.

Colette Sheehy, vice president for management and budget, suggested a few tuition strategies. One possibility, she said, would be to charge higher tuition for some higher-cost disciplines, like engineering, the sciences or nursing.

The board is scheduled to set tuition rates at its April meeting.
The Finance Committee did set housing rates for the 2004-05 academic year, boosting the average room charge in Charlottesville by 8.8 percent to $2,970, and for the College at Wise by 4.5 percent to $3,072.

In other business, President John T. Casteen III led the board in a policy discussion on the critical importance of a five-year, $126 million program to enhance science and engineering at the University. The discussion was the continuation of one begun in an August Educational Policy meeting, where University provost Gene D. Block outlined an aggressive strategy meant to position the University as an internationally pre-eminent research institution in select science and technology fields.

Casteen noted that despite an increase in research funding for the sciences, engineering and medicine, the University continues to be ranked 49th in total federal research and development expenditures among research universities.

The state is in part responsible for this situation, he said, having provided neither the infrastructure nor the philosophy for its universities to become leaders in science and technology research. “In effect, Virginia has three universities — U.Va., Virginia Tech and VCU — waiting to take off, but the state has not been able to help them develop the necessary research clout.”

Casteen said that commitment to and investment in scientific research is “a survival issue.

Either we get in, or we atrophy as an institution.”

In October, Block and R. Ariel Gomez, vice president for research and graduate studies, received board approval, in concept, for a $60 million commitment for recruiting faculty, funding salaries and building new research space. Last week, they returned to the board with a detailed plan on how the University would target research opportunities, including specific goals and objectives, as well as funding and measurements guidelines.

Key objectives of their plan include attracting 10 new star faculty teams to spearhead research in selected fields; increasing laboratory space; enhancing infrastructure; and hiring and retaining top faculty with competitive compensation packages and other incentives.

Board members unanimously endorsed the plan, praising Block and Gomez for the meticulous nature of their work and its level of checks and balances.

“The commitment they have made to us is extraordinary,” said board member John O. Wynne.

The board approved another groundbreaking initiative — Access UVa (see story, page 1) — that with the science and technology plan have the power to transform the University, Wynne said, and place it in the top ranks of great national public and private institutions.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee discussed plans for Varsity Hall, the University’s first infirmary, which will be moved this summer from Hospital Drive to 204 15th Street. The move will make room for a 115,000-square-foot expansion of Rouss Hall, which will house the McIntire School of Commerce.

New University architect David J. Neuman, in his debut before the committee, noted that with its history as a medical building, Varsity Hall would be a good fit with the other Medical Center buildings in the vicinity of 15th Street.

In OK’ing the move, the committee agreed to demolish Brugh House, home of the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction, which currently occupies the site and which, Neuman said, has no historical significance.


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of the University of Virginia

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