June 10, 2011 — The University of Virginia's Board of Visitors on Friday took a significant step toward resolving questions about how to handle future restoration work in the Academical Village, approving guidelines that identify "periods of significance" for various elements of the oldest part of the University.
For instance, the "period of significance" for the exterior of the Rotunda was identified as 1898 – the year of its Stanford White-designed reconstruction after the 1895 fire – while the period of significance for the pavilions, colonnades and student rooms on the Lawn was pegged at 1825, the year the University opened.
The design guidelines were among many issues handled by the board during its quarterly meeting, held Thursday and Friday in the Rotunda. The board also passed a $2.5 billion budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, initiated a review of the University's financial aid program, elected a vice rector and approved Universitywide sustainability targets.
Board member L.F. Payne, who chairs the Buildings and Grounds Committee, introduced the guidelines by noting that Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village "is often referred to as the greatest example of American architecture that exists." Along with Monticello, the Academical Village is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.
In introducing the plan, David Neuman, architect for the University, stressed that wholesale changes are not in the works.
"This is not the start of a campaign to restore the entire Academical Village," but merely a framework to guide future decisions, he said.
The resolution adopting "A Planning Framework for Future Work in the University of Virginia's Academical Village" pointedly notes that all future projects will be presented to the board "for its review, discussion, decision and approval."
The Academical Village – the Jefferson-designed original portions of the University and the first major additions to the Grounds, the buildings enclosing the south end of the Lawn designed by the New York-based McKim, Mead and White architectural firm – has undergone many changes in the two centuries since Jefferson first put quill pen to paper. The new guidelines come in the wake of years of discussion and historical research, climaxed by a symposium of national experts held in April that focused on interpreting the periods of significance for various elements of the village.
The guidelines peg the designated period of significance of the Rotunda's interior as the late 1970s, when it was restored to an approximation of Jefferson's original design. The ranges and hotels were almost immediately modified after Jefferson's original design, and the guidelines designate their period of significance as the mid-19th century. The facades of the buildings of the South Lawn – Old Cabell, Rouss and Cocke halls – remain much as they were designed by McKim, Meade and White in 1898, and should remain so, according to the guidelines.
The guidelines assign varying periods of significance to different parts of the landscape, which will remain mostly as they are today. The first trees planted on the Lawn in the 1820s were black locusts, but were in decline by the mid-19th century and were replaced by the current mix of ash and maple trees, which the guidelines recommend maintaining. In the mid-20th century, the pavilion gardens underwent major renovations led by the Garden Club of Virginia, which the guidelines recommend preserving.
The first test of the new guidelines will likely come in the fall, when the board is expected to receive a recommendation for restoring and repairing the Rotunda's leaky roof and crumbling column capitals. The future color of the roof in particular has been the focus of debate inside and outside the board.
Neuman noted that the roof has only been its present bright white color since the 1976 restoration. "Jefferson's Rotunda dome was never white," he said.
$2.5 Billion Budget Includes Historic Cut for Academic Division
The board endorsed a 2011-12 operating budget that calls for $2.487 billion in spending, with a major increase for the Health System and the first-ever year-to-year reduction for the Academic Division. The budget takes effect July 1.
The Health System's $1.1 billion spending plan represents a 10.3 percent increase over the current year. It reflects anticipated new revenues from new facilities, including the Emily Couric Cancer Center, the Transitional Care Hospital and the soon-to-open, 72-bed expansion of the Medical Center; the just-announced acquisition of a large, regional, private cancer practice, Hematology Oncology Patient Enterprises; and savings realized from the full implementation of a new electronic medical records system, said Larry Fitzgerald, associate vice president for business development and finance for the Health System.
Meanwhile, the Academic Division's budget of $1.3 billion is 2.1 percent lower than the current year's budget.
The reduction stems largely from $51.5 million in state funding cuts since October 2007 and the expiration of federal stimulus spending, said Colette Sheehy, U.Va.'s vice president for management and budget.
The savings will be realized through various measures, including freezing job vacancies, consolidating other positions, deferring equipment replacements and increased productivity, Sheehy said.
The budget anticipates a slight reduction of the Academic Division workforce by attrition, from the equivalent of 8,756 full-time positions to 8,739.
There will be some areas of spending increase, including faculty and student support hires to accommodate enrollment growth; a state-mandated 5 percent raise for employees enrolled in the Virginia Retirement System, to offset a newly mandated 5 percent contribution to retirement benefit premiums; increases in operations, maintenance and utilities incurred by the opening of new buildings; and increases in financial aid associated with this year's increases in tuition and fees.
The board approved a special allocation of $3 million to address certain strategic compensation issues.
Vice presidents and deans will address critical faculty and University staff recruitment and retention issues in their school and units. These funds are to be used selectively for merit-based salary adjustments to retain highest performers. Senior administration, Sheehy noted, will determine a set of guidelines to use when making salary adjustments.
Additional funds will also be set aside to provide special salary adjustments for the University's lowest-paid University staff.
Board Launches "Philosophical Dialogue" on AccessUVa
The board launched a wide-ranging "philosophical dialogue," according to Vice Rector Helen Dragas, on the direction and financial sustainability of AccessUVa, the University’'s ambitious and comprehensive financial aid program.
Created in February 2004 as a key board initiative, AccessUVa was considered at the time to be unprecedented among U.S. public institutions and later became a model for other colleges and universities. Since that time, the total annual cost of AccessUVa, which includes institutional funds as well as funds from other sources, has jumped from just under $30 million annually to more than $85 million for the coming academic year.
The board originally had committed institutional funds of $16 million annually to AccessUVa to "level the playing field" for students of need. Now, some 7 1/2 years later, annual institutional funds will more than double, reaching $38.8 million for the 2011-12 academic year.
"This review is about a number of things. It's about ensuring that AccessUVa is producing the results we intend it to," Sandridge said. "It's also about ensuring that AccessUVa be financially sustainable, so we can continue to attract a socio-economically diverse student body."
Controlling costs without compromising the board's commitment to accessibility and affordability is critical, he added.
AccessUVa was designed – at the direction of the board and former President John T. Casteen III – to make a University education affordable for all students who qualified for admission, regardless of economic circumstances. As envisioned, the program would not only keep a University education affordable for the lowest-income students, but also address the concerns of middle-income families that were increasingly being squeezed by rising tuitions resulting from ever-decreasing state support.
While early financial models did not predict such extraordinary growth in cost, Sandridge attributes a number of unanticipated factors that have contributed, including the economic downturn and declines in federal and state support to higher education.
Sandridge said he wanted to make it clear that Thursday's meeting would be just the beginning of an ongoing discussion that would likely continue into the fall – and that no changes would be made to AccessUVa at this time.
Board member Austin Ligon suggested that the University engage an outside consultant to review the program and make recommendations to the board.
Kington Elected Vice Rector
The board on Thursday elected Mark J. Kington of Alexandria as its new vice rector, effective July 1. After a two-year term, he will become rector of the University – the board's chairman – in July 2013.
Kington, managing director of X-10 Capital Management and president of Kington Management Corporation, was first appointed to the board by Gov. Mark Warner in 2002 and served one four-year term; Warner's successor, Gov. Tim Kaine, chose not to reappoint him. He also served as a director of the University of Virginia Investment Management Company from 2002 until 2009.
Gov. Robert McDonnell reappointed Kington to the board in July 2010. He currently serves on the Buildings and Grounds, Educational Policy, Finance and Student Affairs and Athletics committees.
The current vice rector, Helen E. Dragas, will become rector July 1, succeeding John O. Wynne, whose term expires.
Board Signs on to Sustainability Goal
The board unanimously approved a resolution committing the University to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 250,000 metric tons or less by 2025 – which is 25 percent below 2009 emission levels.
Without reduction efforts, such emissions would be projected to rise to 380,000 tons in that time frame, meaning the University must find ways to cut 130,000 tons in the next 15 years.
Facilities Management has identified "opportunities" to save approximately 77 percent of that total, with the major projected savings coming in increased energy conservation and efficiency and building a new facility that would allow the University to generate its own heat and power, said Donald Sundgren, chief facilities officer.
He said that ways to realize the other 23 percent of the reductions have not yet been found. "We don't know how to get there," he admitted.
Beyond greenhouse gas emissions, the resolution commits the University to address other "areas of concern," including "waste, water, nitrogen, stream and river protection, noise and light pollution, open space protection, and conservation of the historical and cultural legacy of the community."
Report Finds Faculty Diversity Increasing Slowly
Women and minorities are making slow gains in U.Va.'s faculty ranks, but progress has been stunted by a slowdown in faculty hiring and by the lack of career opportunities for partners and spouses, Gertrude Fraser, vice provost for faculty recruitment and retention, told the Educational Policy Committee on Friday.
Her 10-year study found that 26.1 percent of full-time, tenure-track faculty members are women, up from 21.6 percent a decade ago. Over the same period, the percentage of white faculty has fallen from 89.4 percent to 83.8 percent.
The ranks of Asian faculty have grown from 4.1 percent to 7.7 percent over that decade. Every other minority group has seen an increase, but no one group's share of the total faculty has grown by more than 0.5 percentage points.
From 2003 to 2009, U.Va. rose from the 47th percentile of its Association of American Universities peers in African-American faculty to the 83rd percentile. Its rankings among other subgroups lagged, including Asian-Americans (sixth percentile), Hispanics/Latinos (ninth percentile) and women (16th percentile).
The biggest factor "by far" reported by those declining tenure-track job offers is the lack of employment opportunities for a partner or spouse, Fraser said, noting that among underrepresented minorities, 83 percent rated career opportunities for spouses or partners as being "very important" in their decisions, compared to 53 percent of white candidates.
Fraser recommended expanding employment outreach efforts for spouses and partners and greater participation in a regional coalition of colleges and universities formed to assist in placing them in academic jobs.
Ligon said increasing high-speed access to the expansive Washington employment market could be the key. "Is there a way that would allow people to live in Charlottesville, work in D.C., and be home at night?" he asked.
The economic downturn has slowed new hiring in recent years, Fraser noted, which hampers efforts to diversify faculty. Ninety-four new faculty were hired in the high-watermark 2007-08 academic year, but roughly only half as many in 2010-11.
Fraser said her office is focusing on providing faculty hiring workshops for departments lagging in diversity, conducting debriefing sessions after selected searches, and sharing its research on faculty departures and job declinations and acceptances.
Changing of the Guard
The meeting was the last for three board members whose second terms were expiring: Wynne, Payne and Susan Y. "Syd" Dorsey. It was also the last for Sandridge, who is stepping down as executive vice president and chief operating officer after a four-decade career at the University.
In the board's opening session, President Teresa A. Sullivan read a letter of tribute to Sandridge from the secret Seven Society. At the conclusion, she brought out a locked wooden box, for which Sandridge had been mailed a key a few days earlier. After struggling momentarily to open the lock – "You have to work for another year to get one that works," vice rector Helen Dragas quipped – Sandridge got the box open and found a photo album of his life.
"Oh my gosh," he said. "Someone's been in cahoots with Jerry," his wife.
Calling in via speakerphone, board member W. Heywood Fralin read a tribute to Sandridge and his departing colleagues. Of Wynne, he said, "It's hard to imagine any rector who has had as much of an impact on the University."
The board also read resolutions for Sandridge and the retiring board members at the conclusion of the meeting, and Wynne and Sandridge were accorded standing ovations.
• In the meeting of the Special Committee on Diversity and Equity, Dr. Marcus L. Martin, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, updated the progress made on the recommendations made in 2004 by the President's Commission on Diversity and Equity. "All have been addressed and the majority have been achieved," Martin said. "The University's progress on the PCODE recommendations is impressive and continuous."
• Gilmer Hall and the Chemistry Building, both built in the 1960s, urgently require approximately $125 million worth of renovations to renew utility systems and accommodate projected enrollment growth, which is particularly targeted to the science fields. Richard S. Minturn, senior academic facility planner, presented the buildings to the Educational Policy Committee as a case study in the process the University uses to plan for enrollment growth. Funding for the Gilmer and Chemistry projects has been requested from the state, he said.
• The board solved the riddle of what to name the new first-year residence houses that will open in August: It recycled the names of the dorms that were razed to make way for them. Thus, one of the new buildings will be Balz-Dobie House and the other Watson-Webb House. The names honor early professors of the University.
• The Emmet Street approach to the University from the North will soon have a vastly different look. Two buildings across the street from the Cavalier Inn will be torn down this summer: a gas station at the corner of Emmet and University Avenue, and the building next door at 104 Emmet St., the former home of U.Va.'s Institute for Environmental Negotiation, which has been plagued by mold. The land will be left as open space, according to materials presented to the Buildings and Grounds Committee.