BOV discusses diversity and housing
First chief diversity officer search under way, finalist to be selected in May
By Carol Wood
Two Board of Visitors committees met March 21 in Richmond to discuss issues related to diversity and housing, respectively.
During the first meeting, Warren M. Thompson, chairman of the Special Committee on Diversity and Equity, expressed concern over the pace of change in the University’s climate. At the same time, he said, the board knew that diversity would remain an area of focus for some time, and that patience would be a necessary ingredient.
Thompson’s fellow committee members pointed out that much progress has been made under his leadership. “This committee has worked in concert with the President’s Commission [on Diversity and Equity] on some very complex work,” said Rector Gordon F. Rainey Jr. “A good deal of work has been made over the past 18 months, and this committee played a very important role in that.”
“I share some of your frustration,” Rainey added, “but we are ever so much closer than you might think. ... We soon will begin to see results.”
Rainey was referring to current efforts to recruit the University’s first chief diversity officer, who will be charged with articulating goals and objectives and implementing procedures for change.
Yoke San Reynolds, U.Va.’s vice president for finance and chairwoman of the search committee, reported that the pool of candidates for the position has been narrowed to 12 semifinalists. “We expect to bring three to five [of these] candidates to Grounds by the end of April,” she said, and to select the finalist in May.
At the second board meeting, Milton Adams, vice provost for academic programs, updated the Student Affairs and Athletics Committee on a review that has been taking place involving the University’s overall residential plan.
“We hope to create a seamless connection between the academic experience and the residential experience,” Adams said. “We visited Cornell [University] and other universities to see what is working best. It’s important to me as an academic that we provide leadership and personal development opportunities for our students and that we incorporate these things into where they live.”
Adams said the housing work group — comprising representatives from the offices of the vice president for student affairs, the provost and the vice president for finance — looked at key objectives for housing options from first-year through graduate school. For first-year students, they outlined a focus on institutional culture, sense of community, diversity, access to resources and involvement in University life. For upper-class students the focus also included community and diversity, but with greater emphasis on independence.
Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president for student affairs, discussed the replacement of the dorms on Alderman Road — a project that will be done in phases over the next 15 years. When finished, 11 old dorms will be replaced and 400 beds added.
At the suggestion of the housing work group, the committee unanimously reaffirmed, in a resolution, an existing policy requiring all first-year students to live together in University housing — “for the purpose of creating community and a comprehensive first-year experience.” The resolution also included an endorsement of the replacement of the Alderman Road dorms.