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Public Service & Outreach Planning Commission
University of Virginia

Proposed Structure: Final Report

August 2000

 

Outreach: Making a Difference in Public Life Through Research, Teaching, and Service Activities.

Why Outreach Matters to the Future of U.Va.

It is critical for our various publics—general, elected officials, business and community leaders—to believe we are relevant partners in solving the challenges that face our society.

U.Va. is clearly more than an outstanding undergraduate experience and we have to engage the public so they appreciate our wider mission (i.e., why does research matter to public life? How does faculty expertise matter to someone who never attends U.Va.?)

We are uniquely qualified in some ways to make a difference in this community, the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

We have a responsibility as a state public institution to contribute to the well-being of all Virginians (not necessarily a direct, one-to-one impact).

 

Current Factors That Keep Us From Excellence

We’re doing a tremendous amount of outreach but few people (including our own university community) appreciate the magnitude or impact. We have lacked a mechanism for speaking about outreach at the institutional level. We do not communicate our current activities and their impact effectively.

We lack clear priorities for what we should be doing in the way of outreach that will make the greatest difference for the public and draw on our unique strengths.

Our outreach activities are decentralized to the point that we cannot respond or partner effectively as an institution when public issues don’t correlate with our academic disciplines or schools. We respond well when our organizational units can address public concerns independently or where we have created a unit to address particular issues (i.e., the Weldon Cooper Center supporting local governments throughout the state or Teen Health Center providing health care for community teenagers.)

Our one school which has academic outreach as its primary mission operates under a restricted funding model that prevents it from responding adequately to demonstrated educational needs among public constituencies.

The centralized administrative unit currently responsible for public service lacks adequate staffing and financial resources to support a level of outreach commensurate with our excellence in teaching and research.

 

If We Embraced Excellence in Outreach

Our Vision: We look to a future in the year 2020 when the University of Virginia will be recognized for its commitment to working in partnership with its neighbors and the people of Virginia to focus and apply its expertise towards the enhancement of the quality of life in the Commonwealth, the nation, and beyond.

NOTE: We still need to articulate how the world will be different if we embrace excellence in outreach. The following points all speak to how we will be more appreciated and supported.

If we communicated our activities more effectively and responded aggressively (through a variety of ways, including partnerships) to public needs that corresponded with our strengths in teaching and research, public constituencies, including our state legislature, would:

  • recognize and turn to us for our strengths;
  • be able to name at least three things for which U.Va. is recognized for excellence, with at least one of these involving some facet of our outreach programs;
  • point to ways in which U.Va. is responding to issues that concern them; and
  • agree that U.Va. is a public asset for all Virginians.

In addition, by demonstrating our reliability in brokering solutions to social issues, we would become a more attractive prospect for private support:

  • foundations would recognize that U.Va. shares their concerns for the challenges facing society and has prov
  • individuals would know that through U.Va. they can make a lasting and positive contribution to public life; and
  • corporations would trust us as flexible and innovative partners.

 

Where U.Va. Strengths Match Public Needs

—Proposed Strategic Priorities—

Although we engage in outreach that spans every school and discipline, four areas emerge as possible priorities for institutional priorities for excellence:

  • Health Care

  • Education

  • Environment (Planned and Natural)

  • Supporting a Strong Democracy: From Civic Engagement to Public Policy

When broadly defined, these areas reflect a wide array of public priorities. Examples include healthy aging, quality health care among rural populations, excellent K-12 schools, lifelong learning, workforce development, transportation, conservation of natural resources, civic involvement of youth and adults, and regional planning.

Our current activities in these four areas are multidisciplinary, innovative, and address the issues involved from many perspectives. Many of our activities focus on the innovative application of technology to issues within these areas.

 

What It Will Take to Become Excellent

The crafting of our vision and the strategies for implementing it have been guided by two fundamental beliefs. First, we believe it is critical to ensure that the University of Virginia is a valuable social resource by establishing a record of outstanding achievement in scholarship, teaching, and the integration of its expertise with public service. Second, we believe U.Va. must commit itself to being accessible, engaged, and responsive to the needs of society. To this end, U.Va. must establish multiple points of access for members of society and invest the financial and organizational resources necessary to cooperate with members of society in developing effective responses to pressing social concerns.

We therefore have defined the following goals for U.Va.

  1. To be recognized for the ways in which we contribute to public life
  2. To strengthen our commitment to having an impact on public life
  3. To focus and apply expertise to public concerns that match our unique strengths
  4. To work in partnership with other organizations to address public issues

 

NOTE: Is it important that the goals be exclusive? These goals are not—many of the strategies will apply to two or more of these goals. Goals 3 and 4 could also be viewed as manifestations of 2.

It should be emphasized that implementation of the commission’s recommendations would require significant new resources to be allocated at the university level. It is not envisioned that the necessary resources to implement the following recommendations would be reallocated from existing teaching or research programs.

 

Strategy 1: Simplify Public Access to U.Va. Services

From a series of local interviews, the commission continues to hear that people in the community do not know who or where to make an initial inquiry. A centralized and well-publicized entry point is recommended so that the public can find us quickly and easily.

We recommend U.Va. create a conveniently located, adequately staffed referral office with free parking for people to ask questions and receive information about U.Va. Such a physical space could be located in one or more places, such as the Cavalier Inn and/or the new Connected Community facility near West Main Street. Public terminals would allow visitors to access main U.Va. information sites, including Outreach Virginia, UVa Top News, and the Web Calendar. Over the next five years, this referral office could become a central departure point for visitors to U.Va., linked to the Groundswalk and the university bus system. See Appendix E—Public Access for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Anne Oplinger, Clo Phillips, Iva Morris)

In conjunction with the referral office, we recommend U.Va. establish a central phone number (UVA-4YOU) answered by staff trained to help the public navigate the university’s programs and services. Publicize the referral number throughout the local and regional communities using a variety of mediums (newspapers, radio, bus billboards, Internet, etc.). See Appendix E—Public Access for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Ida Lee Wooten, Anne Oplinger, Carolyn Engelhard, Iva Morris)

We support the creation of Outreach Virginia, a web-based, interactive guide to public service opportunities and off-grounds academic courses and programs available through the University of Virginia. We recommend that sustained staff and funding support be provided for Outreach Virginia. Outreach Virginia will include volunteer service programs as well as academic public service programs and will continue to be shaped through an advisory board of public and university representatives (faculty, staff, students, and alumni). Explore promoting public access through terminals in libraries or through temporary terminals in other public spaces, such as shopping malls or movie theaters. See Appendix E—Public Access for Outreach Virginia materials. (Laura Hawthorne)

 

NOTE: Is it appropriate to add distance learning as access piece here?—If the university’s goal is to reach people anywhere, then it needs to invest in the most effective and efficient ways of doing so. If distance learning is determined to be an effective and efficient tool, then U.Va. needs to invest in it.

Strategy: Increase Public Knowledge of Opportunities Provided by U.Va.

Increase the type and variety of public messages to inform local and global citizens about medical, educational, legal, economic, environmental, business, artistic, architectural, and engineering opportunities. Invest in corporate sponsorship of public radio stations. Develop a strategic communications plan that builds on a consistent theme and visual message. See Appendix F—Strategic Communications for sample communication plans and cost projections (Louise Dudley, Ida Lee Wootten, Laura Hawthorne, Virginia Collins).

Increase the methods by which faculty public service activities are communicated to state legislators, local officials, and the public. Develop annual print publication highlighting faculty contributions to public interest, drawn from existing publications and databases, including Inside UVa, Explorations, Outreach Virginia, and other school and university resources. Distribute publication externally and internally. Program directors with direct contact with any public constituency will use publications as tool for illustrating broad scope of U.Va.’s contribution to public life. See Appendix F—Strategic Communications for details and cost projections. (Louise Dudley, Laura Hawthorne, Dolly Prenzel, Ida Lee Wooten, Betsy Flanagan).

Hold local and regional summits of and for public service and outreach at various traditional and nontraditional locations including the SCPS regional centers and Weldon Cooper Center sites to facilitate conversations about public service and to share best practices among universities, colleges, and public groups. Develop projects to promote public service activity among academic faculty, such as a Summer Institute on Integrating Curriculum and Community Service. See Appendix G—Special Events for more detail. (Hal Burbach, Louise Dudley, Penny Rue, Les Williams, Frank Griffiths, John Green)

Strategy: Employ New Funding Model for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

While there has been increased recognition of the public service and academic outreach made possible by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the commission is concerned about the funding model under which the university’s tenth school operates. Presently the school is charged with generating enough revenues to cover the cost of its personnel, programs, facilities, and operating expenses. Although the revenue picture has improved in recent years, the school does not generate enough revenues through enrollments to cover its entire expenditure budget. The university subsidizes the school, but only with the expectation that the subsidy will decrease and school revenues will increase in coming years.

This model does not acknowledge the public service dimension of the school’s mission. For example, the school provides academic courses and degree programs in regions of the state where enrollments cannot offset the cost of delivery. These programs are offered to meet public needs or to achieve political goals for the university. There is constant pressure in the school to fund these good works by improving profit margins in other programs that generate more enrollments, or by developing newer, and more profitable academic programs. However, under the current funding model, there is little seed money or capital to develop and market new courses, degree programs or professional development programs.

Furthermore, the present funding model, which requires the School of Continuing and Professional Studies to return all revenues to the university, precludes revenue-sharing agreements with other academic schools or with faculty. Without such incentives, many faculty and some schools are unwilling to commit resources to academic outreach efforts with the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

The commission recommends that the university change the funding model for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies so that the public service dimensions of the academic outreach are centrally funded. We believe that this is consistent with the university’s mission and that a new model will ensure that statewide public service needs are addressed consistently. We also recommend that the new funding model for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies include strategies to allow the school to develop revenue-sharing agreements with their university partners in academic outreach and strategies to ensure seed money for new course/program/degree development.

 

Strategy: Establish Position of Vice President for Public Service

Our vision and goals require a clear champion for public service among senior administration—person who is visible and directly involved in public service activities

Emphasize importance of supporting infrastructure, both personnel and financial, and sketch possibilities—importance of organizational links to dean’s offices and provost.

Need for credibility, both internal and external

Duties could include fundraising for public service, interfacing with state legislature, working with deans to develop rewards for faculty activity, improving public access, working with provost and vice president for student affairs to support service learning.

Include following recommendations as possible actions vice president may wish to implement:

Research Feasibility of Regional Outreach Councils.

Conduct Citizen Interviews to Assess Public Needs and Evaluate U.Va.’s Effectiveness

Conduct Marketing Studies to Assess Public Needs.

Review University Priorities for Outreach and Develop Mechanism for Revising

Establish University Advisory Committee for Public Service and Outreach

Develop Infrastructures for Supporting Academic Outreach

Establish Thematic Institutes for Outreach Grounded in Research and Teaching Excellence

Invest in and Expand Speakers Bureau

Strategy: Increase Students’ Opportunities for Service Learning.

Enhance the role of service-learning by encouraging schools to authorize the "fourth-credit option." Service-learning is a pedagogical strategy to augment in classroom teaching with experiential learning through community service. Although many schools offer some form of internship or practicum experience as part of their curriculum, the university is well behind the leading innovators in service learning. There are opportunities to broaden the scope of service-learning at the university. If properly implemented, service-learning should add to classroom discussions making them more useful for students and faculty alike. Service-learning has also contributed to the faculty research.

The fourth-credit option is designed to encourage student initiative and faculty supervision to supplement classroom teaching with experiential learning through community service. Under the fourth-credit option, students would submit a proposal outlining a plan to enhance their classroom learning with learning through community service. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (John Echeverri-Gent, Penny Rue, Dolly Prenzel, Virginia Collins)

We see the fourth-credit option as a first step toward a larger vision of faculty integrating service learning into their curriculum increasingly, until such opportunities are so readily available that every student graduating from U.Va. will have at least one service learning experience.

 

NOTE: Final three recommendations concerning implementation and evaluation from previous report have been deleted. Can be stated in conclusion but seem responsibility of Office of Planning and Evaluation and therefore may not need to be included in commission’s recommendations.

TO DISCUSS: RECOMMENDATIONS RELATED TO VOLUNTEER SERVICE

11. Develop Mechanism for Gathering Information About Staff Volunteer Activity.

There is no instrument for collecting and aggregating information about the community service of staff. We suggest that the university consider ways of collecting such information. See Appendix I—Institutional Coordination for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (John Echeverri-Gent, Penny Rue, Dolly Prenzel, Virginia Collins)

13. Provide Institutional Support for Student Volunteerism.

Provide additional support to help Virginia Service Coalition collect data on volunteer activities and provide administrative support for service learning. Provide office space in Madison House, supplies—especially publicity materials, administrative staffing, a tool-shed, and transportation for student volunteers. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (John Echeverri-Gent, Penny Rue, Dolly Prenzel, Virginia Collins)

21. Create Position to Support Volunteer Services.

Create a new administrative line to enhance the effectiveness of volunteer community service and service-learning at the university. This line might be located in one of several offices: the Dean of Students, the Dean of the College, the Vice President for Research and Public Service, the Cooper Center for Public Service, or the Office of the President. In order to successfully fulfill its responsibilities, the position should be at the level of associate dean or director of community service. The duties of the position should include: providing support for student volunteer service activities, serving as a focal point for requests from the community for volunteer service, assisting in the implementation of the "fourth-credit option" for service-learning (see recommendation 23), acting in an advisory capacity in keeping the entries of volunteer service activities up to date on the university’s web pages for public service and outreach, and helping in the collection of data concerning the volunteer service of the members of the university community. See Appendix I—Institutional Coordination for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (John Echeverri-Gent, Penny Rue, Dolly Prenzel, Virginia Collins)

22. Provide Fund-Raising Assistance to Madison House.

Ensure fundraising for Madison House is a priority. Despite the benefits accrued to the university through the work of Madison House, Student Council voted in the fall of 1999 to eliminate its funding for Madison House over the next ten years. This funding amounts to one-quarter of all Madison House revenues. At a time when it already must turn away hundreds of students and requests from at least 20 community locations for volunteer services, Madison House has agreed to this arrangement with the understanding that the President’s Office will assist it in raising enough funds to replace the lost funding. We want to reiterate in the strongest terms the importance of the university fulfilling this commitment to Madison House since failure to do so would result in severe cutbacks in the services provided by this national model for student community service. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (John Echeverri-Gent, Penny Rue, Dolly Prenzel, Virginia Collins)

 

27. Establish Public Service Leave Opportunities for Classified Staff.

The university should commit to recognizing hours devoted to community service. See Appendix I—Institutional Coordination for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (John Echeverri-Gent, Penny Rue, Dolly Prenzel, Virginia Collins)

 

TO DISCUSS: RECOMMENDATIONS RELATED TO FACULTY REWARDS

20. Establish New Faculty Lines to Recruit Faculty Who Will Make Significant Impact on University’s Public Service Mission.

Establish additional faculty positions—one or two per school or college (depending on size and mission)—to recruit faculty who will make significant impact on the public service mission. Departments within each school will compete for the faculty positions, which will be granted for an initial period of five years. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Robert Hull, Rich DeMong, Betsy Flanagan, Jim Kennan, Marcus Martin, Bob Novak, Kathy Thornton, Ed Kitch)

 

23. Charge Deans With Articulating the Public Service Mission of Their School and Developing Appropriate Evaluation Metrics for Faculty Performance Review.

Definition by each school of its own public service mission, consistent with the university’s mission. Achievements of an individual, particularly if opting for public service as a primary activity, would then be evaluated in the context of that mission. Each school would be expected to develop a documented evaluation process for public service activities that addresses both quality and quantity of the public service contribution. One metric for the effectiveness of the chosen evaluation method would be that the mean salary raise awarded to that group of faculty who adopt public service as a primary activity should be equal to that group of faculty who do not exercise that option, when averaged over several years and assuming comparable evaluation of the quantity and quality of the relative contributions. Whatever evaluation metric is adopted, it should be sufficiently flexible to encourage and reward cooperative activities across units within the university. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Robert Hull, Rich DeMong, Betsy Flanagan, Jim Kennan, Marcus Martin, Bob Novak, Kathy Thornton, Ed Kitch)

24. Require Each Department to Demonstrate Significant Achievement in Public Service.

Have department chairs negotiate with the dean the parameters of that department’s contribution to the public service mission of the school. A component of a department chair’s own evaluation would be based on this metric. Similarly a school or college would be expected to demonstrate commensurately scaled (to be defined by negotiation with the appropriate university official or body) achievement in the public service arena, which would represent a component of the dean’s evaluation. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Robert Hull, Rich DeMong, Betsy Flanagan, Jim Kennan, Marcus Martin, Bob Novak, Kathy Thornton, Ed Kitch)

25. Require Each School’s Promotion and Tenure Committee to Demonstrate Service Contributions of Recommended Candidates as a Group

Ensure appropriate recognition of public service activities in promotion and tenure decisions, by requiring a school’s tenure and promotion committee to demonstrate that the slate of candidates recommended for promotion and tenure in a given year have, as a group, made significant contributions to the public service mission. One caveat to this requirement, however, is that schools should carefully consider whether encouraging substantial public service activities is in the best interest of tenure-track assistant and associate professors. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Robert Hull, Rich DeMong, Betsy Flanagan, Jim Kennan, Marcus Martin, Bob Novak, Kathy Thornton, Ed Kitch)

26. Establish Electronic Reporting Mechanism for Faculty Annual Activity Reports.

Assign responsibility and resources to Office of the Vice President for Research and Public Service to work with Office of the Vice President and Provost and deans of each school to develop an appropriate, centralized electronic database for collecting annual faculty activity reports. Currently, aggregate information about faculty activity is not readily available. University officials have no way of quickly identifying groups of faculty who excel in either research, teaching, or public service. See Appendix I—Institutional Coordination for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Carolyn Engelhard, Clo Phillips, Sondra Stallard, Rebecca Kneedler, Robert Hull).

28. Establish Endowed University Chairs for Public Service.

Establish at least one endowed chair per school. Faculty who has made outstanding contributions to the public service mission of the university will hold the chair for a fixed period of time (such as five years), with the expectation that the awardees will continue a comparable level of achievement during the tenure of the chair. Financing for the chairs in public service, and the remuneration associated with them, would be consistent with existing chairs for research and teaching. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Robert Hull, Rich DeMong, Betsy Flanagan, Jim Kennan, Marcus Martin, Bob Novak, Kathy Thornton, Ed Kitch)

29. Establish Sabbaticals for Public Service.

Award sabbaticals for public service activities competitively according to guidelines consistent with existing policies for research sabbaticals. Such sabbaticals should be available to academic, research, and general faculty, as well as to administrative staff. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Robert Hull, Rich DeMong, Betsy Flanagan, Jim Kennan, Marcus Martin, Bob Novak, Kathy Thornton, Ed Kitch)

30. Establish Annual "President’s Cup" and Awards Banquet for Public Service.

Make funds available to support an annual awards banquet, hosted by the president, to celebrate and recognize the outstanding service contributions of faculty, staff, and students. The President’s Cup would be awarded to that member of the university community who embodies the highest ideals of service to others. Additional cash awards, modeled after the existing Harrison Awards for Excellence in Teaching, would be established to honor faculty who integrate service with teaching and research to further the university’s mission.

In conjunction with this annual event, the university would sponsor a full-page advertisement in local papers announcing the awards and all those members of the U.Va. community who have achieved some level of service. The president would also include a statement about public service and outreach in his annual state of the university address. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (John Echeverri-Gent, Robert Hull, Dolly Prenzel, Virginia Collins)

31. Institutionalize Recognition of Faculty Service Accomplishments.

Establish a universal acceptance and application of the tenet that public service is at least as valuable as teaching and research. To encourage substantial public service initiatives by faculty, we recommend that schools consider mechanisms whereby public service can be elevated to a "primary" activity. For example, a "dual ladder" for faculty professional development could be established, whereby faculty could opt to identify public service in combination with either research or teaching as their primary activities, with the remaining activity being of secondary importance in evaluating the individual’s contributions. (Note that this would not affect the requirement for quality in application of the secondary activity. For example, were teaching chosen by an individual as a secondary activity, this would translate into a lower number of courses taught, rather than a reduced commitment to quality of teaching). This would offer an exciting (even revitalizing) opportunity for many members of the faculty. The choice of which ladder to follow should not be irrevocable, and could change several times during an individual’s career according to opportunity and enthusiasm.

Each school /college would be expected to develop and implement a mechanism for formal recognition of public service activities (either the dual ladder model above, or an alternative system), according to their needs, their strengths, and their mission. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (Robert Hull, Rich DeMong, Betsy Flanagan, Jim Kennan, Marcus Martin, Bob Novak, Kathy Thornton, Ed Kitch)

36. Promote Activities to Bring Current Students and Alumni Together Through Service.

Work closely with its alumni to support their volunteer initiatives. In establishing Cavaliers Care Coast-to-Coast to encourage alumni service-based activities nationwide, the U.Va. Alumni Association and the Young Alumni Council are connecting with their memberships in novel ways. We recommend that the university promote activities that could bring current students and alumni together through volunteer service, such as alternative spring breaks and summer service projects. See Appendix J—Internal Climate for rationale, descriptions, and cost projections. (John Echeverri-Gent, Penny Rue, Dolly Prenzel, Virginia Collins)

 

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