Photo by Ian Bradshaw
April 12, 2005
Higher Education Restructuring Bill has been the subject
of much discussion this
past year here and across the state and even the
became the focus of national attention as it grappled with
how to address necessary
changes to its system of higher education.
you attended one of the six University briefings held through
the fall and winter, you perhaps
got a good sense of what was happening
and of the many voices that were heard
throughout the process. You also would know
that we are on the brink of changes that can
transform higher education and at the same
time preserve the character and quality of Jefferson’s
great legacy, the University of Virginia.
I am grateful for the work done on the University’s
behalf by the many people who helped
guide these changes to coincide with the best
interests of the commonwealth, its citizens and
all members of our own community. You may
have been involved yourself, and many of our
colleagues and our Board members worked
hard for two years to achieve this result, and
their work will have a lasting impact.
Mark Warner and the General Assembly also are to be thanked
for going beyond the call
of duty to bring varied perspectives to the table
as the details of the bill were hammered out and
voted into law. Gov. Warner recently called the
bill “the most sweeping change in our outstanding
system of public higher education in
decades.” Many have said that it is the most
important legislation on higher education in
Virginia since 1819.
In summarizing, Gov. Warner said: “In
the effort to provide colleges and universities with
more predictability and flexibility, we have
worked to ensure that Virginians see tangible
benefits, like improved access, affordability and
quality. And in return for additional autonomy
from the state, the institutions must remain
committed to enterprisewide government
reforms. … We worked to make sure all employees
are treated the same in areas like retirement
and health insurance, and that existing employees
have an initial choice — and then regular
opportunities — to enter a new university
you know, we plan to make application to become a Level
Three institution, a classification
that gives the Board of Visitors full responsibility
for managing the University’s
operations in several key areas that directly
affect our capacity to accomplish our mission.
These include capital outlay, procurement,
information technology and human resources.
bill reiterates the board’s authority (already
stated in the Code, but frequently ignored in
recent years) to set tuition and fees and adds
specific authority to set salaries at market levels.
with this responsibility will come full
accountability to be written into a management
agreement with the state in the course of this
management agreements, which both the governor and the
General Assembly will
eventually approve under the new law, expect a
good bit of sophistication from school faculties
and their deans and of our academic officers
because they require six-year operating plans.
General Assembly’s intent in setting up this
six-year calendar is to introduce discipline into
planning for new programs so that both the
institutions and the state can reasonably predict
what is going to happen. These plans will include
financial, academic and enrollment data.
follows is a brief summary of the bill’s
highlights that I believe will interest you.
University will remain a state agency.
• We all will remain state employees.
Faculty employment practices will be
• Classified staff employed prior to the effective date of
the management agreement
will have a choice of whether to
participate in the new human resources
system or remain under the current state
employees will get that same choice at least every two
years from the
initial effective date of the management
• There will be no change for classified staff
from current retirement plans, workers’ compensation
insurance or the grievance process.
• The University will have the ability to develop new human
governing compensation practices, leave,
disability, or life insurance and severance.
• All staff hired after the effective date of the initial
management agreement will
fall under the University’s new human
addition to what is in this restructuring bill, the state
budget for 2005-06 now calls for a special
base budget increase to classified salaries.
division [classified] employees who have been rated at
least “contributor” on the
state’s rating scale, and who have worked for
the state for at least five years, are entitled to a
$50 increase for each year of service. This is
above any other increase to which they may be
entitled. (We are awaiting details from the state
on how years of service will be calculated, and
we will inform you once we receive word.)
Higher Education Restructuring Bill provides a framework
for change. Details will
emerge as we develop the management agreement
with the state, and as these details are
developed, they will be communicated on a regular
basis so that we can get advice from members
of our community.
think it is important that this legislation ties our increased
autonomy to the state’s goals for
higher education. This link brings responsibilities
we all share. The goals include the University’s
commitment to access and affordability in
higher education; a broad range of academic
programs; high academic standards; uniform
articulation agreements with community colleges;
stimulation of economic development;
increase in externally funded research; and partnerships
with local K-12 schools in order to
improve student achievement. The results of
these new commitments ought to be felt in
every public school in Virginia.
developments are grounds for optimism about the future
of higher education
in our state, and especially about the University’s
future. We have a lot to do, both within the
University and beyond it. Together, with the
good work and dedication of all members of the
University community, we have the opportunity
to take Jefferson’s early vision and carry it forward
for generations to come.
We are in the process of updating the University’s
Higher Education Restructuring Web site
(www.virginia.edu/restructuring/) to reflect
recent changes in the legislation. Please visit the
site from time to time for news on the management
agreement as well as to continue to submit
your questions as we move forward.
I thank you for your steady support and
thoughtful queries over this past year. Your good
counsel helped to shape this legislation and to
make it better at every step along the way.
John T. Casteen III