Over the last decade, the University of
Virginia has successfully entered the ranks of the nation's premier
educational institutions. We have been able to outpace many of our
peers because of the generosity of alumni and friends combined with
support from the state. The success of our students, the commitment
and creativity of our faculty, and the dedication and professionalism
of our staff have contributed to our standing among the very best
We would be mistaken, however, to take our achievements for granted. While we have been undergoing this important transformation, the nation's leading universities have redoubled their efforts to find more effective ways to serve their constituents. To attain the preeminent position we seek, the University of Virginia must improve even more rapidly. The move to the next level will not be an easy task. It must be accomplished with precision and strategic vision. The decisions we face now and the progress we intend to make require extraordinary foresight and commitment.
We move into the new century with several advantages. We understand our core values as well as our obligations to our customers. We benefit from a unique heritage, an attractive physical location, a sound financial footing, extraordinary faculty and students and a vision of what the University can become. Indeed, we now have one of those rare opportunities to inæuence our future. The actions we take will shape the University for decades to come.
Supporting the 2020 Vision
Our planning for the future must be firmly grounded in our strengths and commitments to excellence, integrity, and respect for all those with whom we deal. Within that framework, President John T. Casteen III has asked the Virginia 2020 commissionsómade up of faculty, staff, and studentsó to set a course for achievement in the fine and performing arts, science and technology, international activities, and public service and outreach.
Those of us who support the delivery of the University's primary services of teaching, research, public service and health care must ensure that the University is prepared to act swiftly on the recommendations made by the commissions. It will be essential for every operating unit and individual to understand the role they will play in furthering the goals of the planning initiatives. The commissions are charged with reimagining critical areas of the University. It is our responsibility to develop the means to realize their vision. This effort will require operating units not simply to analyze their capabilities, but to align them with the directions established by our faculty to a degree never before realized. Each unit must be prepared to subordinate internal priorities to the priorities of the University as a whole.
Even as the commissions complete their deliberations, we are putting in place the necessary infrastructure to realize their vision. We are beginning to deploy sophisticated integrated information systems needed to improve the responsiveness and æexibility of an institution of our size with an annual operating budget of more than $1.2 billion. Technology unlike anything we have known previously will be key to what we plan and accomplish. We are carefully managing our endowment with the help of outside advisers who augment the sound judgment of the University's board members. We continue to streamline administrative processes and to make management information easily accessible to all administrators and University planners. We place paramount importance on the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations.
Building on an Established Foundation
Fortunately, we already have many assets in place that will further our efforts. One critical, although intangible, asset is the University's credibility, others ' faith in our ability to deliver what we say we will do. The University has undertaken many ambitious initiatives in the last decade, and we have each time attained or surpassed our goals. This reputation for credibility and delivery is extremely valuable as we collaborate with the state and private citizens alike to realize the University's vision.
We have a reputation as good stewards of our resources. The University of Virginia is one of the most efficiently run universities in the nation, known for its stability and fiscal strength. We care about and protect our physical facilities, many of which are historic. Our master plan for the Grounds is up-to-date. Ours is a low-debt institution, with diverse and predictable revenue sources.
Growth ( in Millions)
One source of the University of Virginia's extraordinary stability is its endowment, the second largest held by a single public university, and among the top twenty-five of all colleges and universities in the nation. This year, the University's endowment reached $1.2 billion.
Growth ( in Millions)
Our research program is robust and our research parks afford unique opportunities for collaboration with industry. In the University Health System, we are tackling many difficult issues that our nation's academic medical centers face without compromising the quality of care we offer our patients. We are in the midst of developing a long-term plan for our athletics programs. We have a firm foundation on which to build.
Achieving our Goals
As we move forward, we must ensure that we can carry out our commitment to the University's vision over the long term. This is partly a matter of providing appropriate technology and protecting our investment in an outstanding faculty. It also requires an ongoing assessment of our allocation of financial resources, facilities, and staffing to improve our programs. And we must continue to be accountable and willing to measure our performance against the very best.
I have consistently said that the University's most important asset is our seasoned team of dedicated employees, many of whom have worked closely together for years. The continuity, sophistication, and expertise they bring to bear are exactly the skills we need as we set our sights on the future. Without them, we cannot succeed over the long term.
We have also made a priority of identifying and developing the new talent that will guide this University in 2020. To them will fall the task not simply of leading the University in 2020, but envisioning a University that lies beyond the reach of even our boldest dreams.
Leonard W. Sandridge