The University differs from virtually all other Research 1 universities in the emphasis we place on educating students—and our ability to elevate the student experience is entirely due to the commitment of our faculty. Faculty members here are passionate not only about their research and scholarship but also about imparting knowledge. These activities are intertwined. Our students learn not just from textbooks but also directly from the scholars whose work will be featured in their next edition.
The impending rise in faculty retirements at U.Va., and at every university in the nation, means that we will have to work hard—and compete hard—to sustain a faculty that values this balance. This will require us to invest in the professional development of our best young faculty through programs such as Leadership in Academic Matters as well as to make up ground in faculty compensation lost during the recession.
But renewing the faculty means far more than replicating it. We are now formulating a strategic plan that will help us identify areas where our strengths intersect with new disciplines and technologies. We see renewing the faculty as an opportunity to shape these fields, not merely to react to their emergence.
Whatever our decision, an important priority will be to build on our core group of faculty members who readily move across disciplines—humanists, scientists, social scientists, and faculty at the professional schools—and who are motivated by their curiosity to work side by side. This willingness to join forces is essential in an age in which solving the great challenges requires multiple perspectives. It is also crucial for a relatively small university like ours, where collaboration creates critical mass.
Successfully renewing our faculty will enable us to retain our position as a top Research 1 university while ensuring that the next generation of scholars and students benefits from our special culture.