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Strategic Planning Public Forums Continue, Including Upcoming Forum For Students

The University of Virginia’s strategic planning process continues the week of Jan. 14 with six more public forums, including a chance for students to share their thoughts on the University’s future with the strategic planning steering committee. 

The process launched this academic year by President Teresa A. Sullivan includes seven working groups, each tasked with assessing an area of the University’s operation. Five of those groups will host meetings the week of Jan. 14 to seek public feedback, beginning with the Faculty Recruitment, Retention and Development working group on Jan. 14 at noon in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom.

The public meetings continue on Jan. 15 with the Streamlining Working Group at 11 a.m. in the South Meeting Room in Newcomb Hall, and on Jan. 16 with the Resources Working Group at 4 p.m. in the Commonwealth Room in Newcomb Hall. .

On Jan. 17, the Technology Working Group will meet at 2 p.m. and the Student Life Working Group will follow at 4 p.m., both in the South Meeting Room in Newcomb Hall.

All of the meetings will also be streamed online.

The steering committee, the group that will develop the combined strategic plan that guides the University’s operation in years to come, will host a public forum for students on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium in the Harrison Institute and Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Student input is welcome at any of the public forms, but that Jan. 16 meeting is specifically designed for student participation.

“We hope many students will be active in providing ideas to the planning process and identifying how we may improve the graduate and undergraduate student experience,” said Senior Vice Provost Milton Adams, who is overseeing the strategic planning process. “Their creative ideas to make U.Va. better are key to success.”

More on the other public meetings:

• Dorrie Fontaine, dean of the School of Nursing, chairs the Faculty Recruitment, Retention and Development Working Group, which meets Jan. 14. The group is considering issues such as the recruitment of new faculty, development and retention of existing faculty, and the best ways to fill a wave of soon-to-be-vacated positions. Peer review and recommendations for best practices will also be addressed.

Faculty development, retention and recruitment will remain a major concern in coming years as the University confronts profound changes to the makeup of its faculty, Fontaine said. Sullivan has said it is among the University’s top priorities.  

“This is a high-profile activity that centers on looking at the question of how we deal with changes to the faculty here over the next decade,” Fontaine said.

• The Streamlining Working Group, which will hold an open meeting Jan. 15, is chaired by Robert F. Bruner, dean of the Darden School of Business.

The group is considering opportunities to simplify or improve practices at the University in ways that will clear the path to excellence. Streamlining improves processes, he said.

Bruner said the group seeks to identify any barriers to excellence confronting University faculty, staff or students, and to identify ways to overcome those barriers. The public forums are an important step in that process.

“By focusing on the experiences of members of the University community, we hope to reveal the most compelling opportunities for streamlining,” Bruner said. “Input from the University community is necessary to help our group identify the areas in which we can be the most effective.”

• The Resources Working Group is chaired by David W. Breneman, Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education and former dean of the Curry School of Education. The group is tasked with developing priorities for enhancing private support for the University.

The group isn’t considering issues such as tuition, state appropriations or future faculty staffing needs, but will instead concentrate on ways to engage younger alumni in support for the University. It will take an inventory of financial resources that don’t come from the state or tuition, as well as of the non-faculty human resources and the physical resources of the University.

“In short, the other groups will be bringing ideas to the table about things they think the University should be doing. Our group is there to say, ‘Here are the constraints, the possibilities and the opportunities to implement some of these ideas,’” Breneman said in a video interview on the strategic planning website, which also includes meeting information and online forums for U.Va. community members to offer feedback.

• The Technology Working Group, which meets Jan. 17, is working to make sure that the University is engaged with the most important questions to enhance learning by technology. The group, chaired by Vice President and Chief Information Officer James Hilton, is also considering whether the University has the best technological support services for faculty, whether it should offer different or more degree programs that are online, or partially online, and whether IT resources are appropriately configured to support educational innovation and research, both now and in the future.

 “Information and communication technologies are changing the ways we teach, learn, discover, publish and collaborate,” Hilton said. “As such, it is vital that the Technology Working Group hear from faculty members, students and staff about the ways technology shapes their work and the opportunities and strategies that they see on the horizon.” 

• The Student Life Working Group, which also will meet Jan. 17, is chaired by Tom Faulders, president and CEO of the U.Va. Alumni Association.  

“The Student Life Working Group is focused on perhaps the most important constituency of the University, the students,” Faulders said in a video describing the group’s mission.

The group will look at student experience – both generally and in terms of what makes U.Va. special – and will also try to identify what attributes a student or graduate should have that would be attractive to future employers. In addition, it will evaluate curricular issues and questions, access and affordability of University admission, and how the University could provide more career services advisory capability to students as they leave the University, he said.  

The Synergy Working Group and the Public University Working Group held public forums in December.

Planners will develop their first set of ideas and strategies by late January, and present an update to the Board of Visitors at its February meeting. Consultants hired to perform a peer assessment will also update the board on their findings. A working draft of the complete report will follow in late summer.

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