Rising to the challenge
Faculty recruitment, diversity initiatives, South Lawn project top BOV agenda
|Architectural concept sketch shows phase one of the South Lawn project — new classroom buildings to be built just south of Jefferson Park Avenue with a wide terrace spanning the road and connecting the new construction to the Cabell Hall vicinity.
By Brevy Cannon
Challenge — that was the common theme to emerge from the diverse reports heard at Board of Visitors committee meetings on Jan. 19 and 20. Despite the challenges, all those reporting were optimistic that U.Va. will succeed in its goals, among them faculty hiring, the South Lawn project, the $3 billion campaign and improving diversity initiatives on Grounds.
Photo by Dan Addison
|Gertrude Fraser, vice provost for faculty advancement, said U.Va. will need 392 new faculty hires by 2015.
Gertrude Fraser, vice provost for faculty advancement, explained how several trends are occurring that will create a need for many new faculty in the next 10 years and make it more important than ever for U.Va. to promote faculty job satisfaction and loyalty.
Large numbers of faculty nationwide are reaching retirement age. At U.Va., 51 percent of the faculty are between ages 50 and 69, and human resources projects that 277 faculty will retire by 2015. Over the same period, student numbers are expected to increase by 1,500. An “optimal” ratio of 13 students per faculty member will require 115 additional faculty “to maintain the quality of our educational and research mission,” Fraser said. Altogether U.Va. will need 392 new faculty hires by 2015.
Competition for the best faculty will get even tighter if the talent pool continues shrinking as it has in recent years, she said. In 2004, there were 4 percent fewer Ph.D.s awarded to U.S. citizens than in 1999, and among those receiving doctorates, only 55 percent intended to work in higher education. The bright spot in this scenario is that the overall demographics of the Ph.D. pool are shifting towards more women and minorities, which is an opportunity that U.Va. needs to take advantage of, Fraser said.
U.Va. currently lags behind other universities in most measures of faculty diversity. Among the 61 schools in the American Association of Universities, U.Va. currently ranks in the top third (21st) for percentage of African-American faculty, but near the bottom in percentages of women faculty and faculty from all other minority groups. The University’s percentage of women faculty has grown slowly over the last 15 years, from roughly 15 percent to 25 percent. More promising, however, is the fact that among assistant professors, who tend to be younger and more recent hires, the ratio of women to men is roughly 1:1.
Fraser acknowledged that U.Va. “has a lot of work to do to catch up” where faculty diversity is concerned. One key to recruiting diverse new faculty, she said, will be to offer incentives that help faculty manage the competing demands of work and life. U.Va. already has many “family-friendly” policies, but peer institutions like Berkeley and Michigan have done more. But she is optimistic. “I think we are on the right path.” In the past year, more than 70 percent of all faculty offers were accepted, with 86 percent of African Americans and 83 percent of women accepting offers (increases of 55 percent and 29 percent, respectively, from 2003-2004).
Where U.Va. does lead, Fraser said, is in efforts to develop our faculty into leaders and into successful researchers and teachers. The School of Medicine’s faculty development program is “among the best in the nation,” and the Excellence in Diversity Fellowship program, run by the Teaching Resource Center, is “one of the premier such programs,” she said.
South Lawn Project
University Architect David Neuman presented conceptual sketches for phase one of the South Lawn project — new classroom buildings to be built just south of Jefferson Park Avenue with a wide terrace spanning the road and connecting the new construction to the Cabell Hall vicinity.
Neuman noted that the South Lawn area is an incredibly difficult site, because it is divided by a major road, contains rock outcroppings and a buried stream, and slopes steeply with an 80-foot change in elevation.
He plans to “work and rework” the South Lawn concept drawings to refine the subtle nuances. He likened this process to what Jefferson went through in his own designing, as evidenced in the founder’s correspondence with U.S. Capitol architects William Thornton and Benjamin Henry Latrobe.
Neuman also passed out his newly written “University of Virginia Design Guide,” filled with numerous pictures and sketches of buildings and sites around Grounds that illustrate various design themes found in the University’s architecture. The guide was created “to inform and inspire architects and others interested on how to best contribute to the continuing architectural legacy of this University,” as the foreward puts it.
Campaign Has ‘Turned A Corner’
Robert D. Sweeney, vice president for development and public affairs, reported that the capital campaign is ahead of schedule, and has “turned a corner” by having already raised $850 million. This makes Sweeney confident that the $1 billion goal will be reached, as hoped, before the official kickoff this coming October in the new John Paul Jones Arena.
Housing Rates Increase
The Finance Committee approved a proposal from Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, to increase student housing rates for 2006-2007 by 9.7 percent, making the average double room charge $3,639. Roughly half of the increase comes from a $200 per student increase that is necessary to pay for the $200 million replacement of Alderman Road housing and improvement of other housing over the next 15 years, to create the quality of housing that U.Va. “should be providing,” Sandridge said. After holding down housing costs in the 1990s and currently offering one of the lowest housing costs among all Virginia public colleges, U.Va.’s new housing costs will still be average among Virginia schools, and will be the third lowest of 25 peer institutions (among them only Illinois and Virginia Tech offer lower costs). New student housing costs roughly $100,000 per new bed built, Sandridge noted.
Harvey to Create Diversity Operations Council
“Around the Grounds in 80 Days” was the title of William B. Harvey’s report on what he has done and learned in his first 80 days on the job as vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity. He noted that the racial incidents of this past fall were portrayed unfairly in the media as though they were routine or tolerated. And that is clearly not the truth, he said. U.Va. is once again leading the nation in black student graduation rates, and the School of Medicine is the only medical school in the country with three African-American department chairs.
Harvey said he plans to continue using the report of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Equity as his roadmap for progress. “The document is the most comprehensive and far-reaching that I have seen in the country.” He also is creating a Diversity Operations Council to serve as a “think tank” and central communication forum. Departments and offices across the Grounds will designate a representative to sit on the council, thereby providing a holistic perspective on where the University is on various diversity issues. Each department can share with the council any questions or issues that arise, he said.
Spending With Minority Owned Businesses Up 29 Percent
Bill Cooper, director of supplier diversity for procurement services, began his report to the board by saying, “Thank you for your support because we have overcome the first obstacle — that is, a commitment from the top.”
Cooper has been in his new position for just six months, but U.Va. spending with SWAM vendors (small-, women- and minority-owned businesses) has already seen significant increases. Spending with minority-owned businesses has increased $200,000 per quarter in fiscal year 2005-2006 compared with the previous year, a 29 percent increase.
U.Va. spends about $260,000 per day, with about half of that spent in the Charlottesville/ Albemarle area in smaller purchases that average less than $300. To increase SWAM vendor access to that local spending, Cooper meets with the Central Virginia Minority Business Association, a group of black entrepreneurs in the Charlottesville area, to help connect their services with U.Va. purchasing needs.
To get the word out about U.Va.’s new commitment to supplier diversity, Cooper is placing ads in black newspapers around Virginia. He also brings business leaders into the U.Va. community by hosting them at athletic events, and he joined the National Minority Supplier Development Council for high-level nationwide networking opportunities. His office organized the first ever SWAMfest on Dec. 7 where purchasing administrators from nine Virginia colleges met with over 500 minority business people.
Until recently, there have been no SWAM vendors competing for U.Va.’s high-dollar construction spending, Cooper said. Part of the problem is that there are no SWAM construction management firms based in Charlottesville and very few in this region, he said. “Our biggest obstacle is finding the right vendors who are not only capable but interested in doing business with us,” he said, noting that he was able to find one SWAM firm in Virginia and one in Tennessee interested in bidding on U.Va. projects. The Virginia firm has plans to partner with a local non-SWAM firm and may win a major building contract in the near future, Cooper said.
He also reported that his office is buying new Oracle software to streamline finding a SWAM vendor when using U.Va.’s purchasing software. Whenever there are SWAM vendors offering a certain product or service, the new Oracle interface will show those SWAM firms at the top of the list of suppliers in the U.Va. purchasing database. The new software should be installed by December, said Cooper, whose tagline when he spreads the word about increasing supplier diversity is: “I’m your SWAM coach, and it’s time for everybody to learn how to SWAM.”
In Other Business
J-TERM • Vice President and Provost Gene D. Block reported that during the most recent J-Term, more than 500 students took 30 courses, doubling the numbers from last year. There were also twice as many study abroad offerings this year. (For more on J-Term, see story on page 8.)
UJC • Tim Ormsby, chair of the University Judiciary Committee, said the UJC is preparing a long-term database that will hold all current and past records of the judiciary committee. The consolidation of all past (and future) records will provide better protection against lawsuits, and will be a great boon to the daily administration of the committee. The committee hopes to have the database running by fall 2006.
STANDARDS OF CONDUCT • Board member Susan Y. “Syd” Dorsey asked for an update on the debate about modifying the standards of conduct following this past fall’s racial incidents. Ormsby responded that there are still regular meetings on the issue. The UJC believes that the 12 standards already in place are sufficient for prosecuting any cases like the ones this fall, he said, but the committee is also looking at the issue in a larger context. When Dorsey asked if there was any timetable for these discussions, Ormsby said it would be an ongoing conversation.
COCKE HALL CLOCK • The Cocke Hall clock hasn’t functioned since the 1980s, but the workings are currently being repaired off-site. By late spring, members of the University community will be able to look up at the pediment of Cocke Hall and know what time it is.
ARTS GROUNDS PARKING GARAGE • Neuman presented plans for a new Arts Grounds Parking Garage, to be located north of Culbreth Theatre, tucked into the hillside next to the railroad tracks. The new garage will replace parking spaces that will be lost in construction of the future arts complex, and will provide an additional 275 parking spaces in this high-demand area. The garage also will provide parking for games at the John Paul Jones Arena, thanks to a foot path running from the garage to Emmett Street. The board approved these schematic plans.
U.VA.-WISE CAMPUS PLAN • Neuman presented a new 10-year campus development plan for the College at Wise, a two-year design process that included extensive consultation with faculty, staff and students of Wise. The main entry to the campus will be transformed with extensive landscaping changes and the complete renovation of Crockett Hall, one of the school’s two original buildings, that has long been considered a “heart” of the campus. The board apporved the plans, with the Crockett renovation estimated to cost $4.75 million.