April 23-May 27, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 8
Back Issues
‘We want to see results!’
Board of Visitors calls for progress on diversity issues
Adams sees program review as an engine of progress
Senate to students: Reject lying and cheating in your midst
Headlines @ U.Va.
Faculty Actions
U.Va. digital history center reaches out to Virginia schools
It’s Personal: An aspiring group of teachers makes learning meaningful
Casteen: Budget stalemate won’t close University
Wise leadership
WHTJ marks Brown anniversary
Feast for the soul: Sufi devotional music of Pakistan
Talk to cover Health System’s master plan
Bowen urges ‘class-based affirmative action’

‘We want to see results!’
Board of Visitors calls for progress on diversity issues

Staff Report

At its three-day meeting last week, the Board of Visitors examined topics as wide-ranging as tuition and pollution control. However, the discussion that generated the most adamant call to action was the one that occurred during the April 16 meeting of the board’s Special Committee on Diversity.

In their report to the diversity committee, Vice President and Provost Gene D. Block and Arts & Sciences Dean Edward L. Ayers outlined their offices’ activities to increase the numbers of women and minority faculty at U.Va.

“One of my top priorities has been to increase the number of women and minorities in top positions at U.Va.,” Block said. “It is critical that our faculty be a diverse, creative group that represents the best of teaching and scholarship today. I believe there is a relationship, not a choice, between excellence and diversity, and we will not compromise in either.”

While encouraged by the reports, rector Gordon F. Rainey Jr. said the board wants to see goals and progress in recruitment and retention.

“Let’s be crystal-clear; we want to see results,” Rainey said. “The board has a deep engagement with this issue. I’m encouraged that we’re starting to get traction with more leadership in this area.”

With respect to full professors, Block said 2 percent are African American and 13 percent are women — numbers that have stayed relatively flat since 1998.

“We’re not happy with the numbers,” responded Warren Thompson, chairman of the diversity committee. “If any other area had those flat lines for five years, we’d address it. We owe it to the University to improve that.”

Referring to the budget problems of the past two years that resulted in hiring freezes, Block said the University now has the opportunity to move ahead, with 250 faculty searches initiated since July 2003.

Creating a diverse pool of applicants has been part of the process, he said, adding that he plans to bring details to the board’s June meeting on the newly hired faculty.

Ayers supplied details on Arts & Sciences’ efforts to expand the pool. He said 41 offers have been made for some of the 55 openings so far, including 23 to women and 10 to minorities. “That’s a sea change,” Ayers said.

Board member John O. Wynne asked the administrators how they were addressing the climate and if they might consider a more family-friendly tenure process. “It’s the culture that has to be changed,” Wynne said.

Block and Gertrude Fraser, the new vice provost for faculty advancement, described one of her initiatives that will address retention. She is forming faculty focus groups across schools to discuss what types of mentoring programs work best, as well as other diversity-related issues, including those related to climate.

Ayers pointed out that the University’s culture carries the burden of its history, and it should not only be acknowledged, but also turned into an advantage. He decided to build on the College’s strengths in American Studies and challenged departments to create the most diverse pool of applicants for open positions.

As a more diverse group joins the faculty, it will bring a critical mass to the University that will help change the culture, he said.
Block added that his office is working with Equal Opportunity Programs to develop on online training module for search committees on the best ways to create a more inclusive applicant pool. They are also working with Human Resources on a protocol for spousal hiring.

During its April 15 session, the Finance Committee of the Board of Visitors set new rates for tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year. In-state undergraduates at U.Va. will pay $636 more in tuition and fees next fall, for a total of $6,600 per year, while non-Virginians will pay an additional $716, for a total of $22,700.

The new figures represent a 10.7 percent increase for in-state students over last year’s tuition and fees, but only an 8.7 percent ($1,006) increase when the total cost of education, which includes room and board, is used as the basis for comparison.

Non-Virginians will see a 3.3 percent rise in tuition and fees over last year’s cost, and a 3.9 percent ($1,086) rise in the total cost of education.

The increase comes at a time when the state budget has stalled in the General Assembly, and state agencies, including colleges and universities, are being required to make financial decisions without the benefit of knowing what their state appropriations will be.

Finance Committee member John O. “Dubby” Wynne suggested pursuing a more aggressive boost in out-of-state tuition, arguing that the market could support it and that the extra revenue generated would address several institutional needs. His suggestion, to match the percentage increase of in-state tuition, would have more than tripled the dollar value of the proposed out-of-state hike.

Leonard W. Sandridge Jr., executive vice president and chief operating officer, countered that a more drastic rise in out-of-state tuition would erode the University’s competitiveness for the top national students, would come as a shock for current students, and would likely exceed the parameters outlined in at least one of the state budget proposals.

Wynne dropped his proposal and moved for the adoption of the recommended increases.

Funding issues in the form of state-mandated tuition rollbacks and consecutive years of tuition freezes have dogged higher education in Virginia for much of the past decade. As a result, the 2003-04 tuition at U.Va. is actually less than inflation-adjusted 1995-96 tuition.
In February, the University launched a groundbreaking financial aid program called “Access UVa,” through which all eligible undergraduate students will be offered financial aid packages that meet 100 percent of their demonstrated need. Students whose family income is at or below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines will receive grants in place of student loans and thereby graduate free of debt. Beginning in fall 2005, all other students receiving need-based aid will have their loans capped at 25 percent of the total cost of an in-state education in order to reduce the debt they carry at graduation.

About $2 million of the $11.6 million in additional revenue yielded by the tuition increases will augment the funding for Access UVa. The new tuition revenues also will fund additional salary and benefit increases for faculty and staff ($7.6 million), and increased utility, lease and operating and maintenance costs ($2 million).

The board also raised graduate tuition and fees by $1,344, to $9,200, for Virginians, and by $236, to $20,200, for non-Virginians. Costs will also increase by $1,980 for all Darden students, to $30,300 for Virginians and $35,300 for non-Virginians, and by $1,900 for all entering medical students, to $26,074.

Additionally, the committee approved a 3.6 percent increase in the rates for contract meal plans, attributing the increase to increased food and labor costs. Aramark, the company under contract with the University to run Dining Services, will increase its minimum wage to $8.37 per hour to bring it in line with the University’s minimum.

Building & grounds

The Board’s Buildings and Grounds Committee approved on Thursday a $51.8 million renovation to the University’s central heating plant.
The plan, which calls for two new boilers, additional coal- and oil-storage capacity, and more pollution-control equipment, will bring the plant into compliance with federal and state environmental regulations into the foreseeable future and allow it to run at full capacity.

The University heats all of its medical facilities and most of its academic facilities with steam and hot water from the central plant, which was built in stages over the past 55 years. The expanded and modernized plant will also supply heat to many of the proposed building projects, including the South Lawn project and the new McIntire School of Commerce building.

Pollution controls at the plant will be enhanced. Two existing bag houses, which filter particulate matter from the boiler exhaust, will be modified and a new bag house added.

A second railroad siding for coal cars and a fifth coal silo will also be added, increasing on-site coal storage to a maximum of nine days. Existing underground oil storage tanks will be replaced with larger ones.

The plant will continue to operate with three fuel sources — coal, gas and oil — to assure uninterrupted service, on the chance one of the fuel sources fails, Robert P. Dillman, chief facilities officer, told the committee.

Dillman, who presented the plan to the board, said planning for the project, which should be completed by 2008, began in 1996.
Board members also asked about plant security. Dillman said the building is closed, and the staff, which mans the facility 24 hours a day, is alert to strangers on the premises. Committee chairman Mark J. Kington said he wants further discussions about security at the plant.

Student affairs

On April 16, members of the Student Affairs and Athletics Committee, meeting in the new Kaleidoscope Center for Cultural Fluency in Newcomb Hall, heard reports on the new center, student housing and student-athlete recruitment.

Committee chairman Thomas F. Farrell II called on committee member Susan Y. Dorsey to give a brief summary of an open forum the two hosted with students the prior Monday evening. Topics raised by students included housing, faculty hiring, the Student Activity Fee and related appropriations, and pedestrian safety. Citing the forum’s success, Farrell said he looked forward to similar meetings in the future with different cross-sections of students.

Shamim Sissson, senior associate dean of students, reported that between its Feb. 26 opening and the end of this semester, the Kaleidoscope Center will have served as the venue for 39 programs, including a World of Tea lecture series, a Native American Student Union reading group, and a program on “What is Whiteness?” The latter, Sisson elaborated, resulted in a substantive, post-program discussion among a small, diverse group of students — an example, she said, of the center’s potential to bring different groups together in meaningful dialogue.

Future plans for the center, she said, include collaborating with the International Studies Office on a film series, hosting art exhibitions, continuing a variety of programming and lounge nights, and expanding the center’s resources to include international cable.

Sandridge, who was in attendence, announced that this fall the University will begin to guarantee on-Grounds housing to all first-year students who want to live on Grounds in their second year and who make application by Nov. 1. Transfer students entering the University in the fall who want to live on Grounds, he said, will receive offers housing offers beginning in June. Both guarantees are intended to alleviate the uncertainty and stress that many entering students experience over housing.

Athletics Director Craig Littlepage reported on the recruitment of student-athletes, a subject that has drawn intense scrutiny at other institutions in recent months. He described NCAA regulations that govern an athlete’s “official visit,” and noted that U.Va.’s official visit for its prospects meets NCAA criteria.


Closing out its three-day meeting on Saturday morning, the Board dove into a lively, free-ranging policy discussion on the University’s physical planning process.

Sandridge laid the groundwork, noting that successful university campuses were not accidental. “Planning in all areas of resource management is necessary both to achieve and to sustain excellence in universities,” he said. “Academic, financial, and physical planning must work in close harmony in order to develop workable strategic plans that can accomplish institutional goals within the time and budget allotted.”

Sandridge turned to David J. Neuman, architect for the University, to walk the board through a new physical planning process that might accomplish several goals, including designs that better accommodate academic needs and planning that is more comprehensive and efficient. “While much of our growth has been carefully planned in the past,” Sandridge said, “much has also been episodic in nature. … This is a renewed effort to plan more fully and comprehensively.”

Neuman outlined his plan, which included a series of board checks and balances, but was cautioned by several board members not to ask for too much input. “It is not our job to micromanage this process,” Farrell said.

“We should set policy and framework,” Saunders added. “Not tell you what goes into each building.”

Neuman said that all planning should be driven by the mission of the University and that all decisions should be informed by academic planning, physical planning and a capital needs plan. “We will look at space needs on a regular basis and benchmark how we use our resources.”

To that end, Neuman laid out a proposed process time line for all building projects than included intermittent board involvement. It “put logic” back into the process, Sandridge said, adding that at times programmatic needs of a building came mid-way through the building process instead of at the beginning and that some key issues, including fund raising, were left to the end.

Neuman believes that the recent creation of a capital development executive committee, charged with a rigorous vetting of every project, will transform the process and help avoid future missteps. Its members include Neuman; Sandridge; Block; Colette Sheehy, vice president for management and budget; and Robert D. Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs.

“No project will go to the president or board without going through this committee,” Neuman said.

Rainey summed up board members’ enthusiasm for the changes that included a strong focus on fiscal responsibility and a recommendation that might require that an operating endowment be confirmed before a new capital project is approved.

“This is good work,” Rainey said, “and we look forward to your bringing back to the board a final proposal.”


© Copyright 2004 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

UVa Home Page UVa Events Calendar Top News UVa Home Page