Feb. 27-March 11, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 4
Back Issues
Think About It
Greenberg: Brown Helped break segregationist South
Medical Center operating in black
Headlines @ U.Va.
‘Homegrown’ administrator credits mentoring in career success
Faculty Senate turns its attention to matters of honor, money
He’s no dummy
Online master’s program trains nurse leaders from underserved rural areas
What About the Children?
Discovering new life at the bottom of the sea
Leap year has U.Va.’s zip code
Francesca Fuchs
Research yields benefits, mankind, marketplace

Faculty Senate turns its attention to matters of honor, money

By Matt Kelly

Robert Davis
Photo by Greg Harris

“The Honor System is an issue that is hitting at all levels of the University, from the Board of Visitors, through the upper administration, through the faculty and to the students.”

—Robert E. Davis,
Faculty Senate

Money and honor are big topics for the Faculty Senate under Robert E. Davis’ chairmanship.

The Senate is studying faculty members’ roles in the Honor System and faculty participation in fund raising and setting priorities for the new capital campaign, issues that first appeared under previous chairpersons.

The student-run Honor System, which is being examined by the Academic Affairs Committee, became a topic of concern last year after physics professor Louis A. Bloomfield approached the Senate’s Executive Committee about the system. In 2001, Bloomfield had initiated 158 honor cases against students who allegedly turned in plagiarized papers during his How Things Work course.

n the wake of the Bloomfield cases, 30 trials were held, 45 students left the University and three degrees were revoked. Bloomfield recommended that faculty members no longer initiate cases until students get more involved in the system, that there be a full range of sanctions available, and that students reinstate a no-tolerance doctrine for violations.

“We are relying on discussions with the students, on past surveys of the faculty on their viewpoints, on contemporary discussion with faculty about their current views, and interactions with the administration to understand its role in all this. It is very complex,” said Davis, 43, who understands that students will control any changes in the system. “I think this is an issue that is hitting at all levels of the University, from the Board of Visitors, through the upper administration, through the faculty and to the students.”

The Senate is also discussing faculty participation in long-term decision making at the University. Former Senate chairman Robert M. Grainger and current chairwoman-elect Marcia D. Childress had drafted a report calling for more faculty involvement, and Robert D. Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs, has addressed the Senate on the importance of faculty taking part in the upcoming capital campaign.

While faculty members may not be comfortable raising money themselves, they still have their “eyes and ears open to potential donors who could donate not only to the University in general but might be able to help a particular faculty member or department,” Davis said.
With state funding falling off, Davis added that the University has to find new revenue sources.

“We don’t see the University of Virginia becoming a private school, but we are effectively a private school in terms of our reliance upon fund-raising and tuition to support programs” Davis said. “And we will become more reliant upon these revenue streams in the future.”
The Senate is also continuing its focus on how to attract graduate students and improve conditions for them.

“You can’t do great science without having a strong graduate program,” said Davis, an environmental sciences professor and climatologist. “Improving graduate education not only improves the sciences, but [improved sciences, in turn,] affect the research enterprise of the entire university. By improving graduate education, we make the University a more vibrant place to work, we raise the level of research productivity and scholarship, and we collectively garner more accolades nationally and internationally.”

The University is taking all the right steps to attract graduate students, said Davis, who cited increased stipends, improved health care and the Senate’s dissertation-year fellowship as examples.

“This University is striving to be one of the top in the country,” Davis said. “The way to improve your stature is to find growth areas, things that we can do better than we’re are doing now.”

The Senate can also react in positive ways to current events. “Last year, we were having discussions about diversity in light of some of the incidents that happened on Grounds,” Davis said. “We talked about diversity at one of the faculty meetings, and then Michael Smith was chosen to co-chair the diversity commission that was appointed by [President John] Casteen.”

Davis has been a Senate member for eight years. He has worked on the Academic Affairs Committee, where he suggested the committee examine the larger issue of graduate education. Originally nominated for Senate membership in order to provide “young blood,” Davis has become one of the deft hands at the Senate’s tiller. While he said he is not a political person, he is proud of the Senate’s progress.

“I think the Senate in the last 10 years or so has done quite well and has more of a presence at the University,” he said. “I am very happy to be part of that.”


© Copyright 2003 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

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