State Budget Keeps Higher Ed Funding Intact, President Tells Faculty Senate

April 21, 2012 — Less than 24 hours after the General Assembly finally approved the 2012-14 state budget, University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan reported some good news regarding higher education funding to the Faculty Senate at its regular meeting on Thursday.

"The governor and the General Assembly left untouched the $200 million biennial allocation for higher education across the state," she said. "A second piece of good news is that the amendment to prohibit using additional tuition as a revenue source to support financial aid did not go forward."

In mixed news, the University must help foot the bill for a bonus of up to 3 percent for faculty and staff, payable in December. The bonus will be 3 percent if the state has a $77.2 million surplus, but will be prorated if the surplus is smaller, Sullivan said.

The second year of the budget includes a 2 percent raise for faculty and staff, although Sullivan was not overly optimistic that it will come to fruition. "Year one of the budget is where we need to focus; year two is an aspirational budget and there is no money in hand for that now," she said.

Compensation has also been on the agenda of the Faculty Senate. At recent senate executive council meetings, members discussed gender equity as it relates to University faculty salaries. This prompted Sullivan to take a preliminary look at average salary data, and she quickly determined that an in-depth review of salary equity was needed.

She said she will work with John Simon, executive vice president and provost, to develop a plan for addressing problems that are discovered. But, she added, "I want to expand the reach of the work to address both racial and gender equity."

Sullivan also gave a special nod to Simon and Meredith Jung-En Woo, dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, for their efforts in recruiting dual-career faculty members from the University of Kansas. Craig Huneke will join the Department of Mathematics and Edith Clowes will join the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.

"I am really grateful for the work that went in to making this recruitment a success," Sullivan said, adding that she hoped that others would consider engaging central administration to assist in such recruitment efforts. "If we can be helpful, I hope you will call on us," the president said.

Holstege Chosen as Chair-Elect

Dr. Christopher P. Holstege, associate professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics and director of the Division of Medical Toxicology, was elected by acclamation to become chair-elect of the Senate, said Gweneth West, who chairs the nominating committee.

Holstege will become second in line to George M. Cohen of the Law School. Cohen will take the reins of Senate leadership from Robert M. Kemp of the McIntire School of Commerce at the end of the academic year.

Senators Updated on New Internal Financial Model

Brandt R. Allen of the Darden School of Business, the Senate's representative on the new internal model steering committee, updated senators on task forces and timing for the project.

He reported that members of the five task forces – each led by a dean or vice president – have been selected, and that each task force includes between two and four senators. "They will be working hard over the summer to incorporate all of the ideas that have been generated," Allen said. "The expectation is that the pieces will begin to come together by October and that we'll have a model that incorporates many of the ideas and best fits the needs of the University."

He added that the financial model will evolve over many years. "These things get better as you go along," Allen said. "But we'll be better able to talk about what it's going to look like in October."

Kemp reminded senators that the best single resource of background can be found on the financial model website.

COO Strine Presents His Vision

Michael Strine, executive vice president and chief operating officer, was invited to give his views of the future of the University.

In a wide-ranging conversation, he talked about the challenges and opportunities facing the University and all of higher education. He walked senators through a primer on University funding – tuition, research, patient care activities and philanthropy – and outlined current and future competitive and political pressures.

Strine said that he was headed to a conference of his peers that included 25 universities, only three of which are public. He said it gave him some relief and a "sense of normalcy" that the agenda reflected that private institutions are grappling with many of the same issues that challenge the publics.

"The big question in higher education today is the value proposition," he said, explaining that the public is demanding more accountability.

At the same time, he added, universities are facing the need to weigh faculty resources and growth issues, and increase financial aid and research funding. "We are having to evaluate where we invest and we can make tradeoffs," he said.

The good news for U.Va., Strine said, is that it is well-positioned with a great story to tell. "That is the story of – and I quote President Sullivan here – 'Virginia exceptionalism.'"

He ticked through the assets that give the University its advantage:
• People – "None better than here."
• Academic standing – "The state wants us to do more with education and to help raise the status as a national leader in research."
• Financial strength – "History of strong management and triple-A bond rating."
• Medical Center – "We are a leader in medical care and medical education. ... The Medical Center is 58 percent of the University's revenue. Its success is important to the success of the University."
• Incredible place – "From walking the Lawn to living in Charlottesville."

Strine said be believes it is important for the University to be at the forefront of higher education – and "we have a tremendous opportunity do that."

— by Carol Wood