April 11, 2008 — Outside the Rotunda on Friday, the Lawn teemed with would-be Wahoos and their families, on Grounds for the annual "Days on the Lawn" program for high school seniors who have been accepted for admission to the University of Virginia.
No doubt, one of the big questions on their minds — and especially those of their parents — was, "How much is this going to cost?"
Normally, the group that was meeting inside the Rotunda would have provided the answer. The Board of Visitors had been scheduled to set tuition and fees at its April meeting.
This year, however, the state budget has yet to be approved, delaying the University from taking action. Instead, on Friday, the board set tuition for graduate and professional students, but the big variable — undergraduate tuition — stayed off the table.
The background is this: State legislators reached a budget deal weeks ago that included a "Tuition Moderation Incentive Fund," meant to encourage Virginia colleges and universities to limit in-state tuition increases. The final scope of that measure, and whether Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine will agree to it, will not be known until the General Assembly holds its annual veto session April 23.
That uncertainty led the board to authorize the executive committee to make the decision on undergraduate tuition when it next meets shortly after April 23.
For the current year, in-state, undergraduate tuition and education and general fees are $6,821 (and $26,071 for out-of-state undergrads). The University's six-year plan, which was approved three years ago by the General Assembly as part of the Higher Education Restructuring Act, calls for an increase of 9.9 percent for Virginians, to $7,499; and 6.6 percent for non-residents, to $27,795.
Leonard W. Sandridge, the University's executive vice president and chief operating officer, pledged to board members that the ultimate tuition recommendation would not exceed the parameters set in the six-year plan.
The board did set undergraduate student fees. In-state students will pay $377 in education and general fees, while out-of-state students will be charged $595. The auxiliary fee, which funds everything from University Transit to Student Health and athletic contests, will increase by 7.5 percent, to $1,755.
For graduate students, Virginians will pay 8 percent more in tuition, to $12,140, while out-of-staters will see a 4.2 percent hike to $22,140. In-state Darden School of Business students will pay $40,500 annually (up 8 percent), while non-residents will pay $45,500 (up 7.1 percent). In the School of Law, tuitions increased by $3,300 to $36,800 for Virginia residents (up 9.9 percent) and $41,800 for non-Virginians (up 8.6 percent). Medical students will pay $1,345 more, bringing the total to $32,650 for in-state students (up 4.3 percent) and $42,650 for non-residents (up 3.3 percent).
Putting the endowment to work
Under the watch of the University Investment Management Company, the growth of the University's various endowments has been spectacular in recent years — and perhaps never so spectacular as the last fiscal year, when the return on the long-term pool topped 25 percent, boosting the value to $4.34 billion. (As of Jan. 31, the value had topped $5 billion, though most of the gain came from new contributions and not investment returns.)
That eye-catching growth understandably leads some to question why more of that money is not applied to tuition, or boosting financial aid, or funding many other institutional priorities.
It's not quite that simple, said Yoke San Reynolds, the University's vice president and chief financial officer. The endowment is not a singular pot of money, but rather a pool of more than 1,800 different accounts. The vast majority of those accounts are designated for specific purposes, she said.
Nonetheless, University officials and the Board of Visitors spent some time Friday discussing potential ways to boost the payout from the endowment. The board has traditionally adhered to a conservative payout formula, designed to protect the endowment's core value and provide stable, predictable funding.
Vice Rector John O. Wynne said he believes that now is the time to increase the payout. The University has excellence within its reach in many areas, and dipping a little deeper in the endowment would make a big difference, he said, citing specifically the chance to fund the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of the University.
"If we miss this opportunity and take too conservative an approach, then shame on us," he said.
Sandridge and Reynolds outlined three possible methods for tapping the endowment controlled by the rector and visitors: changing the spending formula, assessing an administrative fee on all new contributions, or changing future gift agreements to provide for more unrestricted funds to address University priorities.
After a long discussion, University officials said they will formulate a more specific proposal to take back to the board at its June meeting.
Fundraising numbers down, but campaign leaders still encouraged
With a daily drumbeat of news about growing energy prices, shrinking credit and dim employment outlooks, one might expect that the University's $3 billion fundraising campaign might be hitting a lull.
Indeed, as of Feb. 29, philanthropic giving during the current fiscal year was down by 6.4 percent compared to the same point a year earlier.
But a closer look at that total — $204.7 million — gave reason for optimism. The previous year's figure was inflated by a $100 million gift from Frank Batten Sr. to establish the Frank Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy. This year's running total is 27 percent ahead of giving two years ago and 54 percent of giving three years ago, reported Robert D. Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs.
"We're holding our own with last year," he said. "... I'm really proud of our team, especially in that we are operating under difficult market conditions."
With the campaign now 52 percent of the way down its timeline, it has raised 54 percent of its goal, said Sweeney, who acknowledged that difficult times may lie ahead. The campaign has reached "a period of heavy lifting."
Lawmakers give schools new tools to deal with mentally ill students
The killings of 32 Virginia Tech students a year ago by a troubled fellow student, who then turned the gun on himself, prompted a flood of 121 mental health-related bills in this year's General Assembly. In combination with a law passed a year earlier, University officials have new guidelines to follow when dealing with mentally ill students, Allen Groves, U.Va.'s interim dean of students, reported to the board on Thursday.
A bill signed into law this week eases the standard by which schools can choose to notify parents of erratic behavior. Whereas in the past parents could be called only when students posed an imminent threat to others or themselves, the new standard calls for notification when a student seeks treatment and there is a "substantial likelihood" that the student could cause serious harm or suffer serious harm in the near future. Additionally, it relieves schools of civil liability for notifying parents, except in cases of gross negligence — and pointedly, does not waive liability if a parent is not notified, Groves said.
The 2007 law prohibits a school from expelling or disciplining a student who attempts suicide.
Groves outlined the measures the University takes to deal with troubled students. All contacts are recorded in an internal incident tracking system, which allows deans to determine quickly whether behaviors follow any patterns. Deans regularly communicate with counselors, police officials, resident staff, student affairs administrators, faculty — and often with parents.
In extreme cases, students may be given an interim suspension, a tool that Groves said has been used three times this year. Students may also be compelled to undergo a psychological evaluation, and may be asked to voluntarily take a medical withdrawal.
He added that students who merit interim suspension often qualify for involuntary commitment under state laws.
The enforcement of interim suspensions drew some questions from board members about the University’s ability to keep track of suspended students.
Groves said police, faculty and resident staff are all notified when a student is suspended, but acknowledged, "Its not a perfect system. There's no dome that drops down around the University (to assure that suspended students stay off Grounds)."
Patricia Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer, said that University officials often can track the whereabouts of suspended students. It's the troubled students that she and her staff don't know about that worry her more, she said.
New Institute To Focus on Faculty Leadership
At the meeting of the Special Committee on Diversity on Thursday, William Harvey, U.Va.'s vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, announced the creation of an Institute for Faculty Advancement to improve leadership opportunities for academic faculty.
With six deanships and other high-level academic administrative posts to fill, the University is enhancing its efforts to widen the pool of strong candidates, reported Harvey and Susan Carkeek, vice president and chief human resource officer, who together made a presentation that outlined a plan of action to address building more diversity into senior administrative positions, With the University making diversity a core value, Human Resources has been evaluating its programming.
From department chairs to assistant and associate deans to vice presidents, faculty administrators have an immediate and long-term impact on the institution, Carkeek pointed out. Academic scholarship doesn't include leadership training, yet higher education institutions need strong leaders.
The new institute, to be part of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, headed by Gertrude Fraser, is one of three priorities that Carkeek enumerated, not only to increase the number of well-qualified applicants for leadership positions, but also to boost the pool by developing leaders from within the faculty ranks who are committed to the University’s diversity goals.
"We will be growing our own [leaders] and growing the pipeline," she said.
The other priorities involve supporting search processes through a network of search advisers and increasing awareness of expectations and accountability in diversifying the top leadership and the faculty as a whole.
These priorities emphasize a better set of strategies to develop leaders and a more diverse faculty pool, Harvey said.
The institute will coordinate ways to identify faculty who are interested in or show potential for becoming academic leaders. Faculty will be able to join small groups as academic or diversity fellows.
The University already has several other leadership development centers, including one in Human Resources and the School of Medicine.
The Leadership in Academic Medicine, started in 2003, provides a successful model, said Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., previously dean of the School of Medicine. The offices of the provost and the U.Va. president are providing funding for the new Institute for Faculty Advancement.
A Leadership Course for Department Heads
Another program being piloted this year is the Institute for Leadership Excellence in Academic Departments. Targeting faculty who are chairing departments or directing academic centers, ILEAD offers workshops and other events to allow these leaders to work on cross-departmental issues they have in common. Potential chairs will be eligible in the future.
The program, run by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, covers everything from the nuts and bolts of the budget process to the difficult issues involved with supervising peers.
The first cohort of 12 leaders, who are department chairs and directors from five schools, are attending a series of workshops and sessions "to hone their leadership and problem-solving skills and receive support in a dynamic interactive environment with their peers, under the tutelage of expert consultants," said Fraser. Building and supporting a diverse faculty and staff is another one of several workshop topics.
• The board passed a resolution honoring student representative Carey J. Mignerey, whose term expired at the end of the meeting, and Rector W. Heywood Fralin welcomed his successor, third-year student Adom Getachew, who shadowed Mignerey during the meeting.
The non-voting student representatives have a lot to add, said Fralin, who then told Mignerey, a second-year law student, "A few have been exceptional, and we would put you in that exceptional category. You've done an outstanding job of representing students, and you have been an outstanding board member."
• Another student, fourth-year tennis star Somdev Devvarman, drew a standing ovation from the board during the meeting of the Student Affairs and Athletics Committee. Devvarman captured the NCAA men's singles championship last year, and this year has led the undefeated Cavaliers to both an indoor national team championship and a No. 1 national ranking. He, too, is unbeaten and top-ranked this season.
It was another distinction, however, that caught the eye of board member Daniel R. Abramson, himself a former student-athlete: Devvarman also won the 2007 International Tennis Association's Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award last season. "Your sportsmanship award is the highlight of your athletic career, from my viewpoint," Abramson said.
• University President John T. Casteen III announced that Stewart Gamage, the vice president for public affairs at the College of William & Mary, has been appointed as the director of the Morven Institute.
Morven is an Albemarle County estate given to the University by John Kluge as part of a larger gift of land. Several of the other tracts were sold to finance the establishment of an academic institute at Morven, which was the core of the gift. Gamage, who formally takes office in August, will be responsible for the development of programming at Morven.