Agenda for the Third Century
The University of Virginia, founded in 1819, will enter its third century in 2020.
Envisioning the Universitys future and planning for the change and opportunities
that lie ahead are the goals of Virginia 2020: Agenda for the Third Century.
Virginia 2020 is focused on four areas: the fine and performing arts, international
activities, public service and outreach, and science and technology. Strengths exist in
all four areas, but each area as a whole offers great potential for achieving higher
standards of excellence. The success of Virginia 2020 will help ensure the
Universitys success as an institution dedicated to the fundamental principles of
teaching, research, and service, and at the same time, devoted to the changing educational
needs of people who will face unique challenges and questions of the 21st century.
President John T. Casteen III, who announced his concept for Virginia 2020 during his
State of the University address in March 1998, has described the endeavor as part of the
Universitys ongoing commitment to excellence:
While many goals have been achieved, the University of Virginia does not now find
itself at a stopping point. Rather, successes have won us a vantage point to identify
directions for further improvement. If our intention is to continue to build on the strong
base developed in the last decade and to become the nations premier public
institution in every sense, then we cannot be afraid to acknowledge areas of weakness.
Leading the Virginia 2020 initiative are four distinguished faculty members. In the
fall of 1998, they accepted Mr. Casteens invitation to chair planning commissions
for each of the four areas of emphasis. They are:
Robert Chapel Fine and Performing Arts
Brantly Womack International Activities
Rebecca D. Kneedler Public Service and Outreach
Anita K. Jones Science and Technology
A web site has been developed to disseminate information about Virginia 2020 and to
post the commissions work for responses from the community at-large. The address is:
Why These Four Areas?
The University of Virginia is a strong institution, nationally recognized for the
excellence of its academic programs and opportunities available to students and faculty.
At the same time, self-assessment shows great capacity to achieve even higher levels of
excellence. When describing the Universitys institutional growth, President Casteen
The University can be seen as a semi-mature institution: mature enough to have made
hard choices and dramatic progress, yet young enough to show surprising potential for
growth as well as obvious needs. A hard look at what we have accomplished and our
aspirations for the future suggests four areas where we must plan to improve: science and
technology, the arts, public service, and international initiatives.
Science and Technology At no other time in history has
the store of knowledge about science and technology increased so rapidly. Science is
broadly defined as the search to better understand natural phenomena. Technology is the
application of knowledge scientific knowledge and beyond for a useful
The University has solid education and research programs in science and technology, but
many endeavors need new support if they are to provide the environment for a first-rate
educational experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Excellent facilities,
excellent laboratories, and constant evaluation are necessary for the University to be a
leader in creating knowledge of science and technology and in teaching this expanded body
"Change is prevalent in science and technology," said Anita K. Jones, chair
of the Science and Technology Planning Commission. "New discoveries are changing the
face of individual science and engineering programs with increasing frequency. That is
part of the opportunity."
Fine and Performing Arts A liberal arts education,
embodying all the "useful sciences," makes the fine and performing arts central
to all areas of the curriculum. In fact, few areas touch more students, including
non-majors. Each semester, the courses in music, art, and drama attract more than 4,600
Despite the programs influence on students and the local community, the
University lacks a comprehensive plan for the arts. Facilities are uneven and, in some
cases, severely inadequate. The dean and department chairs in arts and sciences have begun
work to identify strengths and weaknesses in these disciplines. Examples of excellence
include the Bayly Art Museum's collection of Old Master prints, the Heritage Repertory
Theatre's summer productions, the music department's computer composition laboratory,
archaeological investigations of an ancient city in Sicily, and an interdisciplinary study
of ancient Pompeii using computer models.
These arts programs have made advances under less-than-ideal conditions. Departments
lack sufficient scholarships and fellowships to compete for the most talented students.
Although more than 400 endowed professorships have been established at the University,
only two faculty members hold endowed chairs in all the arts programs.
As a first step toward correcting these deficiencies, a team of architects and faculty
members is developing a conceptual physical plan for an Arts Precinct that incorporates
the programmatic as well as physical needs for the arts. The project focuses on the art
department, the Bayly Museum, the drama department, the architecture school, and the fine
Plans to strengthen the arts are ambitious. "It will not happen overnight, but my
dream is that in the not-too-distant future, when young people who want to major in the
arts start considering where they want to go to college, one of their first thoughts will
be the University of Virginia," said Robert Chapel, chair of the Fine and Performing
Arts Planning Commission.
Public Service and Outreach Service and outreach are
inherent in the Universitys mission as a public institution. Citizens of the
Commonwealth look to the University to provide value through its teaching and research and
to demonstrate leadership in determining future priorities.
Defining the scope of its work has been an important first step for the Public Service
and Outreach Planning Commission. Rebecca Kneedler, chair, and commission members have
developed two working definitions of public service as follows: (1) The application of
University of Virginia-based expertise to issues of concern to the greater community, and
(2) Harnessing and directing the intellectual resources of the University of Virginia to
promote and enhance the economic, intellectual, social, and physical well being of the
Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.
Recognizing that universities have unique obligations to discover knowledge and to
transfer it to the communities they serve, the commission is evaluating the
Universitys current public service and outreach efforts and recommend strategies for
the future. Joining in the task is the Office of the Vice President for Research and
Public Service, a unit established in 1998 under the leadership of Gene Block.
International Activities Virginias and
Americas range is global. The global perspective in learning, in scholarship,
in understanding is as essential to todays and tomorrows graduate as
are critical thinking and technological competence.
Telecommunications and the Internet are creating an ever-smaller world, and students
will need a global perspective to thrive in the 21st century. Internationalizing the
curriculum includes many components study groups that give students the opportunity
to live in another culture and speak the language; faculty research in foreign lands;
initiatives that bring international experiences back to the Grounds; international
business programs; and new endeavors, such as the Universitys collaboration with the
emirate of Qatar to establish a campus in Doha, capital of that Arabian Gulf nation.
"The University and the world are already well mixed," said Brantly Womack,
chair of the International Activities Planning Commission. "Our task is to take stock
of the current situation and to consider how the University might best structure and
encourage its international programs and activities for continued growth and leadership in
an ever more internationalized environment."
Leadership and Participation
Organization of the commissions and selection of members was an inclusive process,
eliciting the thoughts and suggestions of many in the University community. As a result,
each commission is strong in expertise and is representative of a variety of disciplines
and individual interests and talents. The commissions consist primarily of faculty
members, but also include students and leaders from the local community. Ad hoc and
ex-officio members contribute in meaningful ways as well.
Prior to the commissions formation, the Universitys Board of Visitors
unanimously endorsed Mr. Casteens plans at their May 1998 meeting. In September, at
the annual All-University Retreat, members of the University community came together to
participate in focus groups on each of the four initiatives.
Staff members with responsibilities for communications, development, and technology are
providing support for the commissions work and ensuring that these three critical
functions are part of the planning process from the start. Their contributions and roles
are expected to increase as the commissions move toward implementation plans. In addition,
staff members from the Office of the President are assisting the commission chairs with
administration and communication. Denise Karaoli, a member of the presidents staff,
is the full-time project director for Virginia 2020.
The Planning Structure
The charge for each commission, over the next two years, is substantial: to define
clearly the scope of their work, to identify the leading universities or other
institutions in that field, to determine which characteristics make them first rate, to
measure the University against those benchmarks, to identify opportunities available now
and in the future, and to outline what the University needs to seize those opportunities
and to bridge the gap between ourselves and the best. The commissions
recommendations will, in effect, constitute the "case statement" for the next
generation of significant fund raising.
By late 2000, the commissions will present written reports that, as charged, will
outline action plans based in fact and supported by data to validate future fund raising,
budgeting, and priority-setting. Recommended priorities and timelines for implementation
will include strategies for making investments in current and new programs, such as
personnel, facilities, and support services.
Each planning commission chair has developed a structure and work plan that best serve
the needs of the individual commission and area of study. While the commissions share some
characteristics, their size, use of subcommittees, and work plans vary.
At a March 22 meeting with approximately 15 members of the Universitys senior
leadership, each chair reported on her or his commissions progress and presented a
work plan with a projection of tasks and timelines for completing the work. Each
commission is planning various activities a conference, workshops, and focus groups
that will broaden dialogue, seek external evaluation, and help the commission
develop final recommendations.
Guiding the commissions work is a six-step Framework for Planning:
Definition of Scope. Each commission is drawing boundaries to
determine the scope of its work.
Identification of Aspiration Groups. During this phase of their work,
the commissions will identify other institutions that represent the best of what the
University of Virginia might aspire to be in the area of scope.
Metrics of Aspiration Group. This step will involve determining the
basis for excellence in the above aspiration groups. Specific factors will be identified
Metrics of the University of Virginia. The same factors, or metrics,
used in measuring the aspiration groups will be used to evaluate the Universitys
programs and activities.
Gap and Opportunity Analysis. The commissions will use the comparison
between U.Va. and "the best" to identify potential improvements that would move
us into the aspiration group.
Strategies for Improvement. Considerable work will take place during
this phase. The commissions will develop specific proposals, strategies, and initiatives,
and they will recommend priorities and timelines for implementation. The final results of
this work will help to determine the Universitys immediate funding needs and those
to be supported during the next capital campaign.
Open and inclusive communication with key constituents and stakeholders is a priority
for Virginia 2020. In order to be successful in building a common vision and in meeting
long-range goals, the commission chairs are seeking and fostering broad communication
within the University about their work.
Supporting the effort is a marketing and communications team consisting of staff
members from various University offices. Led by Robert Sweeney, vice president for
development, and Louise Dudley, director of university relations, the group has developed
a communications plan with broad application within the University and beyond.
The plan serves as a guide for disseminating information about the commissions
progress and for identifying opportunities for communicating with various constituents.
The Universitys internal audience deans, faculty, staff, students, the Board
of Visitors, and alumni leaders is considered the top priority for communications.
Other key audiences are alumni at large, parents, friends, members of the local community,
state officials, and leaders in higher education.
Vehicles for communication include face-to-face discussions through meetings and public
presentations; electronic communications via e-mail updates and a web site; and news
coverage in the internal press primarily Inside UVA, the Cavalier Daily, Alumni
News, Envision, Of Arts & Sciences and externally in the Daily Progress and
regional or national publications that may be reporting on activities at the University.
Virginia 2020: Agenda for the Third Century will carry the University into the first
part of the 21st century. This endeavor follows the successful planning efforts of the
1990s. The past ten years can be characterized as a time in which disciplined choices,
thoughtful planning, and restructured finances have supported progress and enhanced
quality in many areas of the University. Success, however, is a process, not an event
and not a single ranking held over time. Virginia 2020 is expected to serve as a
template for future planning as the University meets challenges of a new era.
The rewards of this long and painstaking effort will be great. As President Casteen has
stated: "The benefits will be more powerful teaching, better prepared graduates,
greater impact on the communities we serve, and greater value in all University
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