Top Ten Benchmark Findings
University of Virginia Public Service & Outreach
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.
- 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.
- The volume, variety and impact of these projects are not well known to us or to our
- We lack the university-wide communication structure and media tools to convey our
services to the public (Michigan, Penn State, Virginia Tech).
- 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).
- We do not evaluate the quality and impact of our public service and outreach programs
although such measures are available (Michigan, Michigan State).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
- 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.