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Public Service & Outreach Focus Group Summary
1998 All-University Planning Retreat
September 18, 1998

Facilitator: Karin Wittenborg

What is public service?
Faculty perspective: service to other educational institutions, consulting with industry, service to professional organizations, volunteering in local community.
Student perspective: community involvement, volunteering with community organizations.
University-wide perspective: service to the Commonwealth.
Important to define public service to reflect what it means to various constituents (e.g., local community, taxpayers, legislators).

Suggested definitions of public service
"Something done in one's professional capacity but not performed for a fee."
"Targeting services provided by the University to people who don't normally have access."
"Promoting the public good."
"Leaving something better than you found it."
"Public service is our ability to touch the day-to-day lives of citizens of the Commonwealth and to provide services that improve the quality of life."
"Adding value and resolving issues beyond the traditional boundaries of the academy."

Questions and issues related to public service
Reward system: If University is going to make this a priority, faculty reward structure must reflect it. Some faculty members do not see service as part of U.Va. mission or as something that is valued in promotion and tenure review.
Should there be a community service requirement for students?
How does image of University as an elite institution mesh with goal of public service/outreach?
What can U.Va. do within the Commonwealth that will distinguish it from the work of Virginia Tech and other public institutions? (This came out of discussion of mission of U.Va. vs. land-grant mission of Va. Tech.)
Needs assessment: should determine compelling needs for public service in the state and choose the two or three where U.Va. already has strengths and can make a significant impact.
What is the point of focusing on public service - to raise the profile of what already is being done or to create additional programs/opportunities for public service? Need to understand that there will be a cost.
What is the difference between public service and outreach?
Many believed this is a public relations issue. Need to combat the perception that the University is not involved in service and outreach. Reality is that much goes on, but few know about it. Must be more proactive in getting the word out about what is being done.

How to proceed on public service
Where does one start? Students clearly felt that University should begin in its own backyard, i.e., Charlottesville. Also important to reach out to local African-American community. Others felt it is important to focus on the General Assembly.
Must assess what is being done, find ways to get the word out. Identify where the gaps are and determine whether/how the University can fill them.
Need a University-wide strategy on service and a central coordinating point.
Must recognize that additional resources will be needed to support service and outreach programs. What are sources of potential funding? Will these areas be funded at a cost to something else?

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