Research initiatives and key infrastructure projects at the University of Virginia all stand to gain from funding included in the Virginia General Assembly budget proposal approved in early March.
The state’s spending blueprint would increase UVA appropriations by $15.7 million for the 2016-18 period compared to the current biennium.
The budget-supported research and additional investment in infrastructure improvements will advance UVA’s strategic priority to assemble and support a world-class faculty and staff as the University experiences a generational shift in its teaching ranks.
The budget also earmarks appropriations for access and affordability, positioning the University to adjust the tuition schedule for in-state students that was approved by the Board of Visitors in February.
Research and public service initiatives across disciplines will benefit from the new budget, with UVA receiving specific state allocations for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Focused Ultrasound Center and Blandy Experimental Farm.
UVA’s growing Focused Ultrasound Center will receive $2 million per year to continue its research into innovative, non-invasive treatments for serious medical conditions such as uterine fibroids, Parkinson’s disease and early-stage prostate cancer. Focused ultrasound treatments concentrate beams of energy on a single target within the body, and have been shown to eradicate or treat diseased areas without harming the surrounding tissues. Doctors believe there may be many more treatment applications for this method and as the flagship focused ultrasound center in the United States, UVA’s center is an important leader in national research.
The legislature’s proposal also includes a $2.1 billion bond package to support major infrastructure investments across the commonwealth; of that, $1.33 billion will go to higher education. UVA is set to benefit from this bond package with construction funding to renovate Gilmer Hall and the Chemistry Building.
The project will renew 400,000 square feet of instructional and research space as part of the commonwealth’s goal to further strengthen instruction and research in science, technology, engineering, math and health-care fields and boost the impact they have on local and regional economies.
Future renovations to Alderman Library and the Physics Building will benefit from the bond package as well. This year’s proposal authorizes the planning phase of both renovations.
While these four projects contribute to UVA’s continuing goal of offering faculty and students best-in-class facilities, additional bond funding will bolster new initiatives in health care as well.
About $9 million in bond revenue will go toward the creation of the University’s new Center for Human Therapeutics. The center will focus on translating cutting-edge biomedical research into new therapeutic options for the treatment of disease. By accelerating the process of bringing new research to the commercial market, the center will benefit UVA, the commonwealth and beyond.
The governor’s introduced budget and the General Assembly-passed budget proposal prioritize higher education and research across the state. In addition to the direct funding for specific initiatives, UVA and other state colleges and universities will have an opportunity to apply for additional funding from the new Virginia Research Investment Fund.
The fund is designed to promote research and development, foster commercialization and recruit and retain research faculty in Virginia.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe for review had until April 10 to sign, veto or propose amendments to the legislature’s proposed budget, and the General Assembly will reconvene on Wednesday to consider his changes.