Chapter One: History, Organization, and Mission
Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819. He planned the curriculum, recruited the first faculty, and designed the Academical Village. Comprised of a central lawn and surrounded by residences and gardens, the “village” symbolizes Jefferson’s intent to create an institution that supported the free and open exchange of ideas, close interaction among students and faculty, and collegial collaboration across disciplines. The Academical Village is an architectural design of global significance; UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1987, in recognition of its universal cultural value.
The University was innovative for its day because it was dedicated to educating leaders in practical affairs and public service rather than for professions in the classroom and the pulpit exclusively. It was the first nonsectarian university in the United States and the first to use the elective course system.
The University opened for classes in 1825 with a faculty of eight and a student body numbering sixty-eight. Jefferson took great pains to recruit the most highly qualified faculty, five of whom were found in England and three in the United States. Instruction included ancient languages, modern languages, mathematics, moral philosophy, natural philosophy, chemistry, law, and medicine. The students came from the American South and West and were predominantly non-Virginians. Jefferson opposed the granting of degrees on the grounds that they were "artificial embellishments." In 1824, however, the Board of Visitors authorized granting the Master of Arts degree, which throughout most of the nineteenth century remained the University's most prestigious academic award. The M.D. degree had been awarded to the first graduates of the School of Medicine in 1828, and the LL.B. was first awarded for law school graduates in 1842. The bachelor's degree was awarded beginning in 1849, but became the standard undergraduate degree and a prerequisite for the master's degree in 1899, bringing the University into conformity with other institutions of higher learning. The Ph.D. has been awarded since 1883.
Still small for a state institution, the University of Virginia today enrolls over 20,000 on-Grounds students. About 69 percent of the undergraduate student body come from Virginia, two-thirds of the student body are undergraduates, and there are approximately equal numbers of men and women. The bachelor's degree is offered in over fifty fields and programs, the master's in sixty-seven, the educational specialist in six, the first professional in two, and the doctorate in fifty-seven. In some fields, more than one degree is offered at a particular level.
To better understand the University's administrative structure it is helpful to consult a graphic presentation of its plan of organization
The Rector and Board of Visitors
In 1819 an act of the General Assembly of Virginia established the University as a public corporation with the name "The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia." The governing body of this corporation is styled the "Board of Visitors." The sixteen members of the Board of Visitors are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate and House of Delegates of Virginia for four-year terms. Thirteen must be from the commonwealth at large and eleven must be alumni or alumnae of the University; no more than three alumni/ae may live outside of the Commonwealth. The board may appoint a full-time student at the University as a nonvoting member of the board for a one-year term. The duties and powers of the board are exercised in order to carry into effect the Statement of Institutional Purpose of the University (see section 1.4). The major powers and duties of the board are as follows:
Finally, on nomination from and concurrence of the president, the Board of Visitors elects the vice presidents of the University and the chancellor of the University of Virginia's College at Wise, all of whom are responsible directly to the president.
The president is responsible to the Rector and Board of Visitors as the chief executive and academic officer of the University. The president is also:
The president is authorized to suspend any faculty member at any time for proper cause, in accordance with appropriate procedure, after consultation with the dean, department head, and other affected administrative officers. A full list of the president's duties appears in the Manual of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia.
Senior Administrative Officers
The president delegates authority to eleven senior administrative officers are responsible for the major functional areas (subtitles are hyperlinked the webpages belonging to the Senior Administrative Offices):
The Executive Vice President and Provost of the University is the chief academic officer of the University.
The provost is charged by the Board of Visitors and the president with overseeing education, research, and public service in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, in each of the other schools of the University, in the University's libraries and museums, and in numerous other academically related units of the University.
The budgets of these units flow through the Office of the Provost. The provost also oversees the recruiting, hiring, retention, performance, promotion and tenure of faculty. In the University's organizational structure, offices associated with athletics, budget, development, health affairs, financial aid, student affairs, and technology report to the president through different vice presidents.
The Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer is charged by the Board of Visitors and president with overseeing the non-academic support areas of the University, including operations of the Health System, and supporting special initiatives that have a University-wide impact. The office is guided by its commitments to:
The Senior Vice President for University Development and Public Affairs supports the University's threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service by providing resources and services to development offices around the University Grounds, and by establishing policies and procedures.
University Development offers regional fundraising, planned giving, information services, research, gift accounting, communications, and donor relations services.
In cooperation with academic units and related foundations, the office also institutes policies for the conduct of development activities.
Public Affairs produces a variety of public relations activities, communications, and community relations initiatives for the University, designed to increase public understanding of programs in classrooms, research labs, and other service activities. Public Affairs' functions include management of web-based electronic communications, liaison with print and television media, and communication within the University community.
The Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Center is responsible for the operation of U.Va.’s hospital and clinics, in addition to all its affiliated financial and information technology functions.
The Vice President and Chief Financial Officer establishes and maintains financial policies and infrastructure for all units and divisions of the University, serving a wide range of customers. Among the officer's areas of responsibility are debt and credit management, managerial analysis and costing, financial performance measurements, and financial planning. The Vice President for Finance has administrative oversight of the University's affiliated foundations and the University's policy program.
The Vice President and Chief Information Officer facilitates the effective coordination of information technology-related activity across the Grounds and developing collaborations among U.Va.'s academic and administrative units that advance the University's missions. The CIO coordinates the University Committee on Information Technology and the Deans Technology Council, both of which help to guide institution-wide information technology projects and to establish strategic direction.
Additional duties include working with the University community and its leaders to define a vision for the role of information technology at U.Va. and in higher education, as well as making specific proposals, and advocating for resources to realize that vision.
The Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity assists and monitors all units of the University in their efforts to recruit and retain faculty, staff and students from historically underrepresented groups and to prove affirmative and supportive environments for work and life at the University of Virginia.
The Office of the Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer supports the University's primary purpose of enriching the minds and lives of its students. The division promotes the intellectual, cultural, personal, and social development of students while enhancing their physical and psychological well-being. Student affairs programs and services help students learn responsible decision-making; clarify personal values and identity; foster interpersonal relationships; facilitate career exploration; and promote the value of diversity, of informed citizenship, and of full membership of all students within the University community. The Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer oversees: the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Residence Life, the Office of African-American Affairs, University Career Services, the Department of Student Health, and WTJU.
The Vice President for Management and Budget oversees operations that fall under an array of University departments and programs, including budget, capital programs, facilities management, procurement, state governmental relations, and process simplification.
The Office of the Vice President for Research manages five principal activities: research compliance, research enhancement, intellectual property management, graduate studies, and postdoctoral enhancement. In addition, the directors of five interdisciplinary research institutes and programs report to the VPRGS: Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine, Nano and Quantum Science and Engineering, Programs in Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Healthy Aging, and Environment, Conservation, and Culture.
VPRGS also coordinates the various University units that comprise the research infrastructure, including the acquisition of research funding, the planning and development of academic research space, research commercialization, the incubation of new companies and recruiting of corporate research partners to local research parks, and public outreach.
In addition to these vice presidents, two other senior officers, the General Counsel and the Athletic Director, report to the president and serve as members of the president's senior cabinet. The General Counsel is the University's chief legal officer and is responsible for providing advice on all legal matters affecting the University under the direction of the attorney general, the Board of Visitors, and the president. The Athletic Director is responsible for supervision of all University intercollegiate athletic and intramural programs and facilities. Other officers who report directly to the president include the:
The president and vice presidents manage a diverse enterprise that is organized for budgeting purposes into three operating divisions:
Teaching and research are conducted by faculty members organized into schools and departments. Approximately 2,000 full-time faculty members teach in programs leading to bachelor's, master's, doctoral and first professional degrees. The eleven schools of the University are as follows:
Summer and Special Academic Programs is an extension of the regular academic year with course offerings to meet the academic needs of resident, degree students, as well as non-degree seeking students who are enrolled in courses for their professional development. Summer and Special Academic Programs is a separate administrative unit with its own director who works directly with departments and schools in selecting the courses offered and faculty employed during the summer. Each summer the University of Virginia offers a rich selection of courses to over four thousand students.
The University is host to several academic organizations with statewide, regional or national affiliations. These include the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the University of Virginia Press.
Several federal and state centers of professional activity are also located in the University community. They include the state's Division of Forestry, the Division of Mineral Resources, the Virginia Highway and Transportation Research Council, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the Federal Executive Institute. The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's School teaches military law to lawyers in the armed forces.
Health SystemComprehensive health care services are provided by the University of Virginia Health System, which consists of University of Virginia Medical Center, the School of Medicine, and the Health Services Foundation, and which operates more than forty clinics at numerous sites within and distant from the main precinct of the Medical Center. Satellite clinics include those at Northridge, Stoney Creek, and Orange. The Medical Center (originally called University Hospital) was established in 1901, to complement the teaching and research activities of the School of Medicine and to provide hospital and related services to a broad region.
This four-year undergraduate college was opened in 1954, initially as a two-year branch of the University. It functions to some extent as an independent institution, although its chancellor reports to the president of the University of Virginia and its Board of Visitors. In 1999, the University of Virginia's College at Wise was established in the southwestern part of the state to serve an area that has limited access to higher education. It currently enrolls more than 1,800 students.
The University draws on the knowledge and resources of faculty, students, and staff to serve on a number of committees dedicated to furthering the mission of the institution. University committees serve a variety of functions and vary in terms of their charges and memberships. Their charges, committee structures, and current memberships may be explored online.
The Faculty Senate also supports a broad range of standing committees and task forces, offering faculty the opportunity to contribute to the governance of the University. The full listings of these opportunities can also be found online.
The central purpose of the University of Virginia is to enrich the mind by stimulating and sustaining a spirit of free inquiry directed to understanding the nature of the universe and the role of mankind in it. Activities designed to quicken, discipline, and enlarge the intellectual and creative capacities, as well as the aesthetic and ethical awareness, of the members of the University and to record, preserve, and disseminate the results of intellectual discovery and creative endeavor serve this purpose. In fulfilling it, the University places the highest priority on achieving eminence as a center of higher learning (Adopted by the Rector and Board of Visitors in May, 1985.)
The University of Virginia seeks to achieve its central purpose through the pursuit of the following specific goals:
The University of Virginia has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) since 1904. The last reaffirmation of the University’s accreditation was in 2007. In addition, a significant number of the University’s programs and schools undergo review by accrediting bodies or licensing and certification entities. This listing does not include Medical Center accreditations.