Brendan Nigro is a history major, and he is about to experience history in the making at the University of Virginia: As this year’s student member of the Board of Visitors, Nigro will get to work with UVA’s ninth president, James E. Ryan, who begins his term Aug. 1.
Nigro, a Rhode Island native and a University Guide, is looking forward to bringing his leadership skills to the non-voting position, which will enable him to represent the student body to UVA’s governing body. He will participate in his first meetings this week, starting Wednesday and running through Friday.
He spoke with UVA Today about his aspirations for the year and what he is looking forward to.
Q. What are some student priorities for the BOV this year?
A. I think students are looking to the board this year, as always, to address the national trend of rising tuition costs and reaffirm its commitment to affordability for the great education we get at UVA.
Another exciting initiative involving the board this year will be plans for the Ivy Corridor and how the University will expand to better serve students in the coming years.
Q. Have you been surprised by anything so far?
A. Something that surprised me was how open and welcoming the board members have been to me since my appointment. Yikes, that sounds bad, huh? It wasn’t that I thought they would be unfriendly but, I sort of expected they might be too busy outside of board meetings to get to know me. But many of them have reached out to me personally and encouraged me for my term.
It’s going to be one of my goals for my term to have more students meet members of the board, a group that I’ve found so far to be kind and care deeply about UVA.
Q. How have you prepared for this week’s board meeting, your first as the student representative?
A. I’ve read the materials for the meeting (there’s a lot of them, over 300 pages!). In the coming days, I’ll be sending out a meeting guide to let students know what will be discussed and doing some more intentional outreach on topics that directly impact students, like the proposal for the Alderman Library Renovation and the [fiscal year 2018-19] budget.
Q. Why did you want to represent students on the board and how does the role fit into your career aspirations?
A. I wanted to represent students on the board in order to serve a University that I love, learn from the challenges I will face and lead with compassion for the student body.
As for the second question, I wish I could tell you how the role fit into my career aspirations. The main issue, though, is that I still haven’t figured out what those aspirations are. Consider me open to suggestions.
Q. You will have the distinction of working on the board with UVA’s new president, Jim Ryan, who starts work Aug. 1. What opportunities are you looking forward to?
A. I am very excited to meet the president-elect and hear his ideas for the University. But more importantly, I am excited to facilitate interactions between the president-elect and other students. He said he is hoping to “listen first” in his first few months in office, and I’m hopeful that this will give students the opportunity to address concerns directly with him.