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A Statement from Michael Strine, University of Virginia Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

February 29, 2012

We find ourselves at the University of Virginia in the difficult position of trying to hold down tuition, meet the growing demands for financial aid, grow student enrollment, advance learning and create knowledge, as we also serve the growing health care needs of patients across the Commonwealth.  National and state attention is squarely focused on the affordability of higher education. Resources that fund our core missions are more constrained than ever.  The General Assembly adjourned today at a budget impasse.

At the same time, we are addressing compensation for our faculty and staff in the wake of four consecutive years of state salary freezes.  It is our faculty and staff who make it possible for the University of Virginia to realize its bold ambitions for excellence in teaching, research, public service, and patient care.

We care deeply about the well being of all individuals in the University community and have consistently worked to earn their trust and that of the Board of Visitors, donors, and others to whom we are highly accountable.  Over the past weeks, we have heard from faculty and staff, students and alumni, donors, and leadership of community and business organizations with diverse perspectives regarding issues of wages and benefits.  Last night, Student Council heard strong voices on all sides of these issues, resulting in a motion to withdraw a resolution supporting the living wage campaign.  This community thrives on such robust and civil discourse through free speech and established processes of engagement.

It is in this context that we write to affirm our continued commitment to improving salaries for all University employees – as our resources and statutory authority allow.  We will continue to make progress on salaries through merit- and performance-based increases, with specific focus on increasing the compensation of our lowest-paid employees. When we are able to give salary increases, we will report publicly on the progress made, including, but not limited to, the wages of our lowest-earning employees.

We have approached Student Council to create a student budget advisory committee to mirror that of the faculty budget advisory committee.  The committee will provide a forum for regular discussion of our financial condition and capacity and address important issues facing the University.  This committee also will provide a venue for insight into University finances and an opportunity for student leaders to articulate their priorities during the budget process.

We also are committed to periodic, public reports on data that are critical in the effective management of our resources.  We will compare the University’s wages, benefits, and total compensation, including that for entry level positions, to those in the wider market to the extent that comparable data are available.

In addition, we will begin to gather information on key contracting and trends, which will help us better manage and communicate to the Board of Visitors regarding our reliance on contracted partners that support and advance our mission.  We hold these partners accountable to federal and state mandates for equal employment opportunity and other fair labor standards.

Attracting and retaining the best faculty and staff are critically important to our goals.  Making our compensation competitive, fair, and performance-driven is among President Sullivan's highest priorities as we enter this year's budget cycle that we will propose to the Board of Visitors in May.  We demonstrated collective commitment to this issue in the budget submitted last year and in the additional compensation enhancements the University has introduced to further support our lowest-paid employees. You may read more about these at

We take our responsibility and accountability for the University of Virginia, its people and our missions very seriously in all that we do.  These responsibilities and accountabilities flow from the Commonwealth and our Board of Visitors; they are not negotiable or transferable.  In fulfilling our duties as Officers of the Board of Visitors, we listen to and are considerate of others, especially those affected by our decisions.  We are thoughtful in the commitments we make and the approaches we take. 

We are ever mindful of and grateful for the supportive and engaged community that shares our commitment to these values and principles and to this great University.

Michael Strine
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
University of Virginia