When President Jim Ryan presents his strategic plan for the University of Virginia next year, it will be shaped by ideas and questions raised by many different people across the University.
Already, thousands have made their voices heard.
Margot Rogers, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee that Ryan formed this fall, has been impressed by the enthusiasm and engagement from students, faculty members, staff, alumni, parents and community members expressed through the “Ours to Shape” campaign, which Ryan launched when he took office to invite members of the University and surrounding communities to share their thoughts on UVA’s future.
“We have heard from so many different groups around Grounds and beyond, getting a sense of their vision for the University and what they aspire to be as an institution,” said Rogers, a senior adviser to the president for strategic initiatives.
So far, the committee has held or scheduled more than 60 events, meetings and discussions with groups across Grounds, including public Ours to Shape events and meetings with undergraduate and graduate student leaders, various student clubs, faculty members, staff and parents. They have also heard from UVA alumni clubs across the country. More than 2,500 people have participated in these discussions, with more to come. (Information about additional future events will be available on the Ours to Shape website.)
Anyone wishing to participate can also submit comments or essays online around key themes of community, discovery and service. More than 1,000 public comments have been submitted, as well as 36 essays exploring the future of the University. (Submit a comment or question here.)
Some professors have even addressed the planning process in their classes, assigning essays, running workshops and encouraging students to think through strategic questions the University faces.
“People are very passionate about UVA and eager to share their ideas and thoughts on how it can be improved,” said planning committee co-chair Michael Lenox, Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean and chief strategy officer at UVA’s Darden School of Business. “That enthusiasm has already strengthened our work, and there are many more opportunities to get involved.”
In addition to Rogers and Lenox, the Strategic Planning Committee includes 14 members and five ex-officio members, tasked with soliciting input and generating ideas for the University’s future. The president and University leadership will draw upon those ideas as they formulate a strategic plan and submit it to the Board of Visitors in June. If approved, that plan will be operational for a minimum of five years and outline a vision for the University over 10 to 15 years.
The committee will help identify specific initiatives and options for implementing them, including an analysis of the financial resources needed to realize the University’s goals.
“Any plan we put forward will have a resourcing plan associated with it, including funding sources and financial considerations,” Lenox said.
On Friday, the Board of Visitors expressed support for aligning resources from the Strategic Investment Fund with the new strategic plan when it is finalized. The fund was established in 2016 to fuel initiatives that could transform a critical area of knowledge or operation at UVA without relying on tuition or tax dollars.
Currently, the fund supports a broad range of projects, including seed funding for the Bold Research Advancement in Neuroscience, or BRAIN, project, supporting research in autism, neurodegenerative disease and sensory disorders; the Democracy Initiative; student scholarships; and professorships.