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November, 1991

There are two major sections to this report. The introductory section describes the committee's charge and procedures, a definition of service, and a brief description of many of the service activities at the University of Virginia. The second section presents the committee's recommendations in the areas of recognition and value, documentation and dissemination, and improvements and new emphasis.


Charge and Procedures of the Committee

The Faculty Senate Task Force Committee on the Faculty's Role in Performing service was charged with examining the many ways service currently is being offered and performed by faculty at the University, studying the ways these service activities are being communicated, and making specific suggestions for improvement of both the service itself as well as the methods of communicating that service to the University community, to state government, and to the public at large.

For its review of current service activities, the committee relied on numerous documents and reports. These documents are available in a separate addendum to this report. A few of these reports, although somewhat outdated, were ambitious attempts to survey service activities of the faculty (e.g., the Report of the University Self-Study Committee on Continuing Education, Institutes, and other Outreach Activities (1986); and Resources for Business & Industry (1987) prepared by the Task Force on University-Industry Relations for President O'Neil). The fact that even such comprehensive efforts as these inevitably omit many important service areas clearly demonstrates the difficulties inherent in trying to examine an area with such magnitude and diversity as service efforts by faculty at the University of Virginia.

Members of the committee also interviewed a number of faculty and administrators regarding public service activities at the University. We regret that due to a very tight timeline, we could not conduct a larger sample of interviews, especially since these interviews greatly enriched our discussions.

Finally, our report is the result of our committee discussions. Each member of the committee has a clear and strong connection to public service at the University and brought that history of experiences to bear both on the committee's discussion and in shaping the recommendations in this report.

 B. Definition of Service

The concept of service can be defined to include so much that it becomes meaningless. Teaching and research are activities that clearly perform a "service" to the larger community. Faculty efforts in University committee work and administrative positions also are accurately referred to in our annual reports as service. In addition, activities such as conference presentations and participation in professional associations are described as professional service. For the purpose of our charge and this report, however, we believe it is more appropriate to describe service in a way more common to non-university laypersons. To the average Virginian, the tasks of teaching, research, University governance and professional activities are seen as parts of the job we are hired to do. "Service," on the other hand, is typically viewed as the extra outreach efforts members of the University community make to benefit the public. Thus, in spite of the importance of such areas as teaching, research, University committee and administrative work, and professional tasks, we have defined the notion of service as it affects the general public -- i.e., "public service."

C. Amount and Impact of Public Service Activities

It is far beyond the scope of this brief report to describe adequately the quantity and impact of public service activities currently taking place throughout the University community. As described in the Draft Plan for the Year 2000,

"The University currently provides an array of services, including comprehensive health services; consultative services for government, industry, and education; continuing education, professional and executive education, and leadership development; library, data, research, and evaluative services; technology development, applications, and assessment; licensing and certification services; applied research to improve education, government, health, and the environment; cultural and intellectual enrichment; and fine arts events and activities." (p. 11)

A few examples clearly illustrate the breadth and diversity of these current public service activities:

1. Outreach efforts and special projects abound in the important K-12 arena
    throughout the Commonwealth.

  • Many of these programs emanate from the Curry School of Education and encompass a wide range of "consumers" such as 4-year-old youngsters in nonliterate homes (the Tempo Reading Program), rural students with interest and aptitude in math and science (Project SCAMP), and gifted adolescent students attending a Summer Enrichment Program.
  • Many other units of the University direct their efforts toward serving the needs of K-12 teachers and students throughout the Commonwealth as well. Examples are the courses and programs in a variety of disciplines offered to teachers by the Center for the Liberal Arts, and a Global Change program for high school teachers given by the Department of History through the Division of Continuing Education.
  • In 1991, over 16,000 teachers, school administrators and other professionals enrolled in courses offered through the Division of Continuing Education. Over 20 of these courses are presented through interactive televised instruction programs on DCE's electronic equivalent of the academical village.

2. In the area of the Health Sciences, numerous examples of service activities

  • The Health Sciences Center operates a variety of clinics, including teen clinics and free clinics. In the past fiscal year, the hospital provided 49.1 million dollars of indigent care.
  • Continuing medical education programs provide additional training to health care professionals in community hospitals throughout the state. In 1990, the University of Virginia School of Medicine sponsored 35 national conferences in which over 1400 physicians from 43 states participated.
  • Hundreds of projects with clear public benefits are conducted annually such as the study of Smoking Cessation Among Rural Blacks in Virginia which is a community intervention program to reduce levels of smoking in 1,300 households sponsored by the Center for Survey Research, National Institutes of Health, and the School of Medicine.

3. In addition to over 200 special centers and institutes, units within the University conduct a number of service activities so large that they permeate almost all areas of the University but are virtually impossible to count. Faculty and students participate in service activities in a variety of ways as the following examples show.

  • The University Admissions Office participates in the Partnership Program with Virginia State University and Longwood and Lynchburg Colleges. This program is designed to inform and interest disadvantaged and minority secondary students in attending college.
  • Students in architecture are required to take Planning Application Courses (PLACS) which are public service projects in such areas as land use planning, housing, community development, economic development, neighborhood analysis and transportation planning. Most of these projects would have been too costly for the localities across the state to undertake and have provided valuable assistance in providing information on issues of public importance such as affordable housing, substandard housing, and homelessness.


A. Recognition and Value of Public Service Material on public service appears in the University's current Draft Plan for the Year 2000, both in the General Assumptions section and in a separate section on Public Service. In spite of the inclusion of the need for, and importance of, public service in such documents, the committee determined that significantly more emphasis needs to be given to public service throughout the University. A recurring theme we encountered during our interviews, for example, was a strong belief that the President, the Board of Visitors, the Deans, and department chairs need to increase substantially their efforts to encourage and recognize public service activities of their faculty, particularly tenured faculty.

With regard to nontenured faculty, the issue is more complicated. In spite of the fact that promotion and tenure documents from the various units of the University state an expectation of public service as part of a faculty member's role, the definition of, and the degree of expectation regarding, that service varies significantly among the different disciplines. It was the view of this committee that a substantial change in promotion and tenure expectations with regard to public service was not possible or advisable at this time. At the same time, however, the committee believed strongly that junior faculty who engage in public service activities should not be penalized for those efforts. In addition, the granting of tenure should carry with it the expectation that more public service will be performed.

Recommendation 1: The President and the Board of Visitors should make a formal statement reiterating the importance and value of public service performed by faculty.

Recommendation 2: Deans and department chairs should increase their recognition of, and rewards for, public service efforts undertaken by tenured faculty.

Recommendation 3: The University should sponsor an annual Public Service Awards Banquet with media coverage and high status recognition for outstanding public service activities by its faculty, similar to the faculty awards made annually by the Commonwealth to recognize outstanding teachers and scholars.

Recommendation 4: The University should establish a three-credit public service requirement for all undergraduate students to bring visibility to the many student public service efforts currently underway and to demonstrate in a tangible way the value the institution places on such efforts.

  1. Documentation and Dissemination of Public Service Efforts

As noted in the Introduction of this report, the volume and diversity of public service activities undertaken by faculty at the University is enormous. But sufficient coordination of those efforts and their communication to both the University community and the general public are lacking. This deficiency, as it relates to publicity and public awareness, greatly harms the University by perpetuating an untrue picture of an insulated research institution removed from real world problems and solutions. Examples of public service and outreach opportunities at the University abound, but this information needs to be more easily accessible and pushed closer to the front of our (and the public's) image of the University.

A variety of extensive efforts in public service are housed in separate entities, including the Center for Public Service, the Division for Continuing Education, the Center for Survey Research, the Health Sciences Center, the Center for Environmental Negotiation, etc. A coordinated effort among these units is needed to make their accomplishments more apparent and their opportunities more accessible to the public.

With regard to communication and dissemination efforts, the Office of University Relations has increased its efforts to promote service projects of the University through the media. Suggestions to increase further this media coverage and publicity about faculty public service activities are the following:

1. Establish a continuing prominent feature on faculty public service activities in the University alumni publication.

2. Re-instate "Concept," the journal of the Division of Continuing Education.

3. Increase radio coverage of University public service activities through local talk shows and "expanded report" programs.

4. Obtain airtime on Channel 10 in Charlottesville for a video "magazine" on University public service activities.

5. Create a system to report public service activities from a particular geographical area to that area's state legislators.

Recommendation 5: The University should create a Clearinghouse for Public Service to provide central information about the public service activities of all units of the University. Faculty should report service activities using the current Effort Certification Report or similar document.

Recommendation 6: The University should increase the methods by which information about faculty public service activities are communicated to state legislators, other state and local officials and the public. In addition to the methods suggested in this report, every project director should see as part of his responsibilities the task of communicating the project's accomplishments to the area's state legislator and local officials.

C. Improvements in and New Emphasis on Public Service

For many years, the University of Virginia has occupied the unique position of being the premier institution in the Commonwealth with a following of loyal supporters throughout the state unmatched by other Virginia colleges and universities. At the same time, the University, with its national prominence, has directed many, if not most, of its public service efforts and publicity toward national and international constituencies rather than to its state constituencies.

There is no question that the University of Virginia is well established as an institution nationally renowned for its research and teaching. Over the past few years, the University has gained ground nationally as it repeatedly appears on Top Ten and Top Twenty lists of colleges and universities in the United States. Where the University has not gained ground, however -- and, indeed, many would argue has lost ground -- has been within the Commonwealth itself.

Demographics have shifted dramatically over the past decade to change the University's position within the Commonwealth. Other state-supported institutions in Virginia have experienced tremendous growth over that decade, and as they have grown, they have focused a larger portion of their public service activities within the Commonwealth. While University faculty have been directing many worthwhile and highly visible activities to a national and international audience, other Virginia universities have developed large, loyal, and powerful state constituencies, especially in the heavily populated areas of Tidewater and Northern Virginia. This committee is not recommending that the faculty "improve" its public service; the quality and quantity of its public service achievements already are at an extraordinarily high level. Instead, this committee is recommending that we faculty redirect a larger portion of our public service energies toward the Commonwealth and the needs of its citizens. We see a clear need to be much more visible in this area and recommend that senior administrators, deans and department chairs provide greater leadership, guidance and incentives to increase state service than we have seen in the past. The University has a great number of outstanding service programs in which national figures are involved. Some of these same programs should be redirected or modified to include and feature participants from the state or to benefit more directly our nearby citizens. For example, the Mayor's Institute on Design in the School of Architecture could serve as a model for a similar institute for Virginia mayors, councilpersons, and supervisors. The Mayors Institute as it is now constituted, is funded by the National Endowment of the Arts and brings in mayors and leading urban designers from all across the United States. A Virginia Mayor's Institute on Design could invite local government officials to discuss similar issues with the design experts in the Architecture School. The University of Virginia already has outstanding centers and governmental relations personnel to direct service efforts and give greater visibility to such efforts in the Commonwealth. The Center for Public Service, for example, has as one of its main missions public service to the state and its people. The problem lies not with these centers, institutes, and the governmental relations office; instead, the problem rests in the fact that we faculty, for the most part, are not aware or involved with such centers. Faculty should be encouraged to be involved, accessible, or, at the very least, informed about the activities of these centers as well as the changing roles of the Division of Continuing Education (DCE). With regard to DCE, we already have a system of seven regional centers throughout the state which are used primarily to deliver credit courses. Although a number of service activities are provided or supported through these centers, we can increase their efforts to broaden their roles as true "service centers" for the University. Combined with greater use of telecommunications, they could provide a major voice for the University throughout the state on issues of local or regional importance.

Recommendation 7: The President, senior administrators, and faculty should commit the next ten years as a decade of an increased public service focus on our state constituencies. This new emphasis should be on greater visibility, greater publicity, and greater participation in public service activities within the Commonwealth.

Recommendation 8: Faculty should increase their participation on Governor's commissions, General Assembly study commissions, state boards and commissions, and other activities within state and local government.

Recommendation 9: Senior administrators should work with the Executive Assistant to the President for State Governmental Relations to identify areas of need where the General Assembly, state and local governments, and the public of the Commonwealth would benefit from increased public service focus by University faculty.

Recommendation 10: The President should establish a speakers bureau for faculty to be available throughout the Commonwealth to describe relevant research and public service activities to civic organizations and community groups.

Among the five General Assumptions in the University's Draft Plan for the Year 2000 is "That service to the larger community is essential to the University's future vitality." After studying the area of service, this committee applauds the degree to which University faculty and administrators devote their efforts to public service. The main purpose of this report is to suggest ways in which these efforts can be more visible and of even greater value to both the University and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Committee Members:

Ms. Rebecca Dailey Kneedler, Chair, Curry School of Education

Mr. Robert Collin, School of Architecture

Dr. Sharon L. Hostler, Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center

Mr. Bernard A. Morin, McIntire School of Commerce

Mr. John R. Redick, Division of Continuing Education


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