Board of Visitors Approves First Projects Supported by Strategic Investment Fund

Winged Aviator statue
September 16, 2016

The Board of Visitors on Friday approved the first round of investments from the University of Virginia’s Strategic Investment Fund, authorizing approximately $26 million for projects supporting pioneering research, enhancing students’ academic experience and bringing next-generation technology and research infrastructure to Grounds.

The board also confirmed that it will consider proposals related to affordability and access at the next meeting in December.

The 13 initiatives funded Friday represent critical first steps in meeting the ambitious goal behind the more-than-$2 billion investment fund, which the board established to support transformative projects aligning with priorities in UVA’s Cornerstone Plan and the Medical Center’s Strategic Plan.

The Strategic Investment Fund has been developed alongside UVA’s Affordable Excellence program and other initiatives to ensure a world-class education affordable for all Virginians. In this year’s incoming class, 69.3 percent of students are from Virginia, exceeding goals of existing enrollment plans. Another enrollment plan, currently being developed for the board’s consideration, is expected to further increase in-state enrollment.  

The projects approved Friday provide some of the research, research infrastructure, personnel, technology and other resources needed to form a strong foundation for the fund’s long-term goals. The board anticipates that recommendations for additional investments will occur on a regular basis during future board meetings, with funding typically awarded in three-year grant cycles. Ultimately, up to $100 million will be allocated on an annual basis, as new investment projects are approved and funding for other projects expires.

“The breadth of these initial investments illustrates the impact that the Strategic Investment Fund can have on every department and discipline on Grounds,” Rector William H. Goodwin Jr. said. “It is an extraordinary opportunity to improve the academic experience at UVA and provide our students and faculty with the tools they need to do groundbreaking work.”

The first round of funding includes projects helping UVA engineers bridge the gap between the cyber world and the physical world, supporting law students who wish to go into public service but lack the means, and providing continuing education for public safety professionals. There are also projects that will reimagine UVA’s libraries, improve the digital infrastructure that is so critical to research across Grounds, and fund undergraduate and graduate students who want to get involved in cutting-edge research.

“We are approaching a decisive moment in UVA’s history, as we prepare to begin the University’s third century,” UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “The investments we make now will help us strengthen existing areas of excellence, open new frontiers of discovery and ensure that UVA continues to fulfill its founding purpose of preparing students for national, and increasingly global, leadership.”

The initial projects lay the groundwork for future “moonshot” initiatives that are expected to be considered for funding support, such as ambitious health care efforts focused on curing juvenile diabetes. Further, projects that support UVA’s efforts to provide a world-class education that remains affordable and accessible are forthcoming in December, allowing the funding to be more closely coordinated with tuition-setting and the development of the University’s next operating budget.

Goodwin also confirmed that the process by which proposals are submitted and reviewed for potential investments is currently open to students. Phoebe Willis, the student representative serving on the board, is already working with UVA’s Student Council to formalize a process for seeking and approving student proposals.

Projects funded in the initial round of investments include:

• School of Engineering and Applied Sciences LinkLab for Cyber Physical Systems - $4,810,000

Interdisciplinary research and lab space dedicated to developing cyber physical systems that can bridge the gap between the cyber and physical worlds and spur further technological and economic development.

• Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research Federal Work Study Research Program - $559,500

Leverage federal funds to expand student work-study program and provide research experiences to first-year, second-year and transfer undergraduate students with financial need, providing valuable hands-on experience that students say has changed the course of their academic and professional careers.

• School of Continuing and Professional Studies Public Safety Program - $600,000

Seed funding to help meet the needs of state and federal law enforcement agencies by expanding public safety offerings promoting consistent training and education standards.

• College of Arts & Sciences Doctoral Student Support - $4,800,000

Increased financial support for doctoral students, essential to research output and quality.

• College of Arts & Sciences Center for Catalytic Conversion of Natural Gas - $1,955,000

Augmented resources for laboratory and research center studying cost-effective processes for converting natural gas into liquid fuel to optimize utilization and limit negative environmental impact.

• Law Public Service Program - $1,000,000

Enhance an existing program to attract and support students interested in public service as their vocation, including new public service scholarships, support for a student travel program and a public service loan forgiveness program.

• ResearchNET Research Development - $4,461,000

A suite of tools designed to better position UVA students and faculty to identify, pursue and win large-scale research opportunities nationally and internationally.

• Research UVA Next Generation Technology - $2,952,724

Robust electronic research support system to handle increased research application volume and changing technology requirements.

• Curry Research Faculty - $2,406,400

New research appointments in UVA’s Curry School of Education to increase education research, identify proposal opportunities and secure additional grant awards.

• Darden Merit-Based Scholarships - $1,000,000

Provide a bridge to increased private support for scholarships that will attract the most qualified students to UVA’s Darden School of Business.

• Research Computing - $750,000

Expand capability and support for high-performing and secure computer clusters.

• McIntire Global Commerce Program - $500,000

Seed funding supporting the new one-year, three-continent M.S. in Global Commerce program offered by UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce in partnership with top business schools in Spain and China.

• Reimagining Librarianship Strategic Plan - $250,000

Examine shifting scholarship needs and create a plan to support new forms of research, including new digital resources.

Click here to view the full presentation given at Friday’s meeting.

More information about the Strategic Investment Fund can also be found here:

Ad Hoc Committee Reviews Guidelines for Strategic Investment Fund Grants

Fund To Propel Strategic Investments in Academic, Research and Health Care Excellence

Questions and Answers About the University’s Strategic Investment Fund

Media Contact

Anthony P. de Bruyn

University Spokesperson Office of University Communications