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Top Ten Benchmark Findings
University of Virginia Public Service & Outreach
November, 1999


Based on surveys, interviews, literature reviews, and conference visits, here are ten key findings about us in relation to peer institutions. Benchmark institutions of particular note are provided.

  1. The magnitude of our public service and outreach efforts is surprising. Every school is engaged and every county in the Commonwealth is served directly by University of Virginia programs. We compare well to institutions far better known for meeting public needs and for their role within their state.
  2. The volume, variety and impact of these projects are not well known to us or to our public.
  3. We lack the university-wide communication structure and media tools to convey our services to the public (Michigan, Penn State, Virginia Tech).
  4. For the purposes of faculty rewards, we separate public service from the categories of research and teaching rather than assess it within those central missions. This practice diminishes its value. We should assess and integrate this application of scholarship (public service) within our assessment of research and teaching (Wisconsin).
  5. We do not evaluate the quality and impact of our public service and outreach programs although such measures are available (Michigan, Michigan State).
  6. We do not recognize public service with endowed chairs or other awards the way we do research and teaching (UNC-Chapel Hill, Michigan), although we have chair holders who have distinguished themselves in this arena.
  7. We should require an academically based service experience for every student at the University of Virginia. Most students in the eight professional schools already have this, and there is growing evidence of the educational benefits of this requirement to Arts & Sciences undergraduates (Georgetown, Penn). The majority of our undergraduate students enters the University with a strong background in volunteer service and would value this professional service experience. In addition, the visibility of this university-wide requirement would benefit external relations.
  8. We appear to be centralized with a Vice President for Research and Public Service, but the budget, staffing, and reporting lines for this office must be changed to adequately coordinate these activities (Michigan, Penn State, Virginia Tech).
  9. We need to do more listening in order to improve our collaboration and needs assessment, especially with our local partnerships and community relations (Duke, Penn, UNC-Chapel Hill).
  10. Universities are organized by disciplines and public needs are interdisciplinary. An integrated, multi-disciplinary approach runs counter to the governance, organizational, budget, and cultural world of the current model of universities. This is the biggest obstacle for us and all our benchmark institutions.
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