Board discusses diversity, salaries, benefits and more
William B. Harvey, U.Va.’s newly appointed vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, was among those attending the full Board of Visitors meeting, held last Friday. Currently vice president of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., Harvey officially begins his job at U.Va. on Nov. 1, but according to President John T. Casteen III, he is already contributing to the University community.
In introducing him to the board, Casteen credited Harvey for having provided advice to the University in the aftermath of the racial bias incidents that had occurred early in the school year, and for suggesting the “‘community unity’ gesture of wearing black ribbons,” which took place on Grounds during the last two weeks of September.
In discussing the racial incidents, Casteen said the perpetrators were “trying to kill the kind of open discourse Thomas Jefferson envisioned.” He told board members that a variety of proactive measures have been taken to support the identification of the perpetrators, including the placement of advertisements in The Cavalier Daily, and the distribution of information cards to students detailing how to report racial and bias incidents that may occur in the future.
None of the University’s responses to date should be viewed as “an ultimate solution” to the problem, Casteen said. The point of them was “to place the situation front and center” within the community.
“This is a very serious concern for us,” Casteen said.
That seriousness was underscored later in the day when board members endorsed a resolution on diversity. The resolution stated the board’s “firm position … that racial intolerance and bigotry on any level at the University is inherently incompatible with the University’s educational mission, and repugnant to individual liberty and equity.”
It also expressed the board’s conviction “that any threatening conduct or act of intimidation directed personally at or against any member of the University community because of his or her race, national origin, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other prohibited basis will not be tolerated and will be appropriately disciplined in accordance with University policy and applicable law.”
In addition to discussions on racial bias and diversity, board members reported on committee meetings that had been held earlier in the month. Highlights of those meetings are presented below:
Two years into a five-year plan to boost its faculty salary ranking into the top 20 among American Association of Universities member institutions, U.Va.’s average annual faculty salary of $91,090 ranked 23rd in 2004-2005 — seven places higher than where it ranked in 2002-2003.
The 2004-2005 ranking is the University’s highest since the 1999-2000 AAU survey, when U.Va.’s faculty salaries ranked 21st.
At the University’s request, an outside actuary compared U.Va.’s health insurance plans with those of six peer institutions: the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan and Cornell, Duke, Emory and Stanford universities. The study concluded that U.Va.’s offerings were second among the group for both faculty and staff, behind only Michigan.
(The actuary also compared the University’s self-insured health plan to that offered to other Virginia state employees, and found that the state plan offers only 84 percent of U.Va.’s plan in “net relative value to employees,” a measure of what an employee pays and receives.)
U.Va. Human Resources staff performed the rest of the benefits comparisons, based upon information requested from the peer schools or publicly available.
Among faculty, Virginia was tops among the peer group in short- and long-term disability plans and sick and personal leave. Faculty defined-contribution pension and employer-paid life insurance plans ranked second; its defined-benefit pension plan and education benefits were third in the group. Vacation leave was fifth, although it was close to the other schools, said U.Va.’s Yoke San Reynolds, vice president and chief financial officer.
For staff members, Virginia was first in employer-paid life insurance and vacation time; second in sick and personal leave and short-term disability; and third in defined-benefit pension plans (staff are not eligible for defined-contribution plans), long-term disability and education benefits.
The Finance Committee approved $31.74 million worth of academic division budget requests for the two-year state operating budget that the General Assembly will take up in January. The request does not include additional monies for faculty salary increases, undergraduate financial aid or base-budget adequacies.
Additionally, the Medical Center is seeking $34.2 million in reimbursements for providing care to indigent patients. It is also seeking to redefine “indigent” to include those whose incomes are 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($58,050 for a family of four). The current definition is 200 percent ($38,700 annual income for a family of four).
“That would be good for the patient and good for the University,” Sandridge said.
The University’s investment portfolio earned a 14.3 percent return on investment in the fiscal year that ended June 30, better than the 12.6 percent target, said Christopher J. Brightman, who heads UVIMCO, the University-related foundation that manages U.Va.’s investments and those of other University-related foundations.
The fund’s returns outperformed its targets over three, five and 10 years as well, Brightman said.
UVIMCO’s total assets under management rose from $2.3 billion to $2.6 billion, including $328 million in investment returns and $56 million in new contributions, minus $94 million in distributions and withdrawals, he reported.
Excellent progress already has been made during the “quiet phase” of the University’s $3 billion campaign, currently slated to close in 2011.
The immediate aim is to raise at least $1 billion in time for the public kick-off on Sept. 30, 2006. Campaign chairman and BOV member Gordon F. Rainey Jr. reported that $699.4 million had been counted toward the campaign total as of Aug. 31. That total represents 23.3 percent of the goal, with 21 percent of the campaign’s planned time span elapsed.
Some elements of the campaign are doing extremely well, Rainey reported. The Alumni Association and U.Va. Fund already have raised $12.2 million, or 94 percent of the $13 million goal. Athletics has raised more than 44 percent of its $300 million goal; and the Health System, 35 percent of its $500 million target.
Endowed professorship levels
The Finance Committee voted to increase the minimum donation needed to establish an endowed professorship from $500,000 to $2 million, a level that is consistent with that charged by many of the University’s peer institutions.
Additionally, the minimum endowment for a deanship was set at $5 million.
A gift of $1 million will allow a donor to name a “faculty fund for excellence” in a given field, and a $500,000 gift will establish a named “research fund.”
A few of the University’s schools, including Law and Darden, already plan to ask more than the $2 million minimum to establish an endowed chair. Others may allow a smaller figure to endow a chair, but on a case-by-case basis, Sweeney said.
Board member Glynn Key, chairwoman of the Educational Policy Committee, said she and the other members are gathering information for a spring 2006 proposal they will make on protecting and enhancing the undergraduate experience.
The results of an optional national survey about student satisfaction with academic experiences were presented by J. Milton Adams, vice provost for academic programs, and Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer.
The data from the 2004-2005 National Study of Student Engagement indicated that students’ satisfaction rate puts U.Va. above the mean in the categories of faculty-student interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment, as well as class size.
Fifty-one percent of U.Va. classes consist of 20 or fewer students, excluding discussion sections and labs. Only 16 percent of classes enroll more than 50 students, with the remaining percentage of classes falling between those two sizes.
Getting students into the classes they need, and into the appropriate kinds of classrooms, including those equipped with the latest technology, will continue to be important objectives, Adams said.
Lampkin noted a nationwide trend in the increase of students’ use of mental health services. At U.Va., almost twice as many students, 64, were hospitalized for psychological disorders last year, compared to 34 two years ago. Counseling and Psychological Services records show 1,700 students made 8,700 visits last year.
She also noted that a slight increase in emergency-room visits related to alcohol use by students may actually be due to encouraging them to seek medical help. In-house surveys by CAPS and the Center for Alcohol and Substance Education show a downward trend in other alcohol-related incidents, such as students missing class, having unprotected sex, getting hurt or being involved in fights.
Other board news
- The Finance Committee OK’d a measure that allows U.Va. to borrow up to $20 million over four years to complete construction of the John Paul Jones Arena. The loan had been part of the original financing plan for the $129.8 million project.
- The Buildings & Grounds Committee has approved preliminary plans for a $78 million expansion of the Medical Center, in anticipation of a 2.6 percent annual increase in demand for beds through 2013, and a $12 million second building for the School of Nursing, to support the education of more nurses.
- Academically, U.Va.’s student-athletes graduated at an 83 percent rate, tops among Division I-A public universities, but short of the University’s stated goal of 100 percent, reported Student Affairs and Athletics Committee chairwoman Susan Y. “Syd” Dorsey.