U.Va. Faculty Senate Reviews Plans for Presidential Inauguration

February 09, 2011

February 9, 2011 — The University of Virginia's Faculty Senate reviewed plans for the inauguration of President Teresa A. Sullivan at its regular meeting Tuesday in Newcomb Hall.

Sullivan, the eighth president of the University, will be inaugurated April 15, highlighting five days of events, including a research poster competition, an academic conference, the inauguration ceremony,  a day of community service, and concluding with a noncompetitive walk known as a "Volksmarch" on Sunday.

University historian Alexander G. "Sandy" Gilliam recounted the history of previous inaugurations, saying that it is a University tradition that the president be in office awhile before being formally installed.

Stewart Ackerly, a 2006 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences, current law student and the student representative on the Board of Visitors, outlined student involvement in the inauguration and asked faculty to support students wishing to participate by possibly  releasing them  from class to attend the events.

Thomas C. Skalak, U.Va.'s vice president for research, encouraged faculty and students to participate in the research and scholarship poster competition, stressing that it is not just for those in the sciences, but also includes categories for areas like art, costumes and musical compositions. The entry deadline is March 1, and the work of five finalists in each of seven categories will be displayed in the Rotunda's Dome Room during the inauguration week. The entries will be shown by electronic feed throughout the week.

"We want the vital work of creation to be visible," he said.

Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education, described the academic symposium on teaching and learning that will be held April 14 as part of the inaugural events. Faculty presentations will be structured within three 80-minute sessions of concurrent presentations throughout the day, with two in the morning and one after lunch. Each 80-minute session will include a moderator, two 20-minute research presentations and discussions involving students.

"Our aim is to showcase faculty and students engaged in ways of expressing what we do here," Pianta said.

Robert Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs, said there would be a private dinner after the inauguration for the benefactors and volunteers at the University, which will include a birthday celebration for Sullivan's husband, law professor Douglas Laycock, and a performance by John D’Earth, a well-known jazz musician and a member of the music faculty. He told the senators to be prepared for "a lot of guests on Grounds for this ceremony."

Pam Higgins, director of the Office of Major Events, said she is expecting between 3,000 and 5,000 people to attend the installation ceremony, which will occur on the Lawn, to be followed by a public reception near the Chapel.

Angela Davis, a special assistant to the chief student affairs officer, outlined the day of service on April 16, which will include faculty, staff, and students working together on volunteer service projects at numerous community agencies and sites around Charlottesville, Albemarle County and surrounding areas.

"This will demonstrate how much the University gives back to the community," she said.

Sullivan herself invited the faculty to participate in the Volksmarch on April 17. Intramural-Recreational Sports will host the Inaugural Walk, featuring routes of five and 10 kilometers that will traverse the Grounds.

"Health is part of our mission," Sullivan said. "This is a fun and healthy way to get exercise and recreation. This is a way to be a healthy community."

For information on the inauguration, visit www.virginia.edu/inauguration/.

In other business:

• Sullivan updated the senate on University-related issues in the current Virginia General Assembly session. Sullivan said she had met with 25 legislators and discussed the budget, retirement funding, the governor's higher education proposals and a plan for controlled growth of the University enrollment.

She said the University is backing three budget amendments, one for "start-up packages" for new faculty in equipment-heavy programs such as science and engineering; another for repairs to the Rotunda; and the third for restoration of Medicaid funding, which costs the University through the Medical Center.

She noted Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's higher education proposal emerged from his Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment, which recommended an increased emphasis on science and math education, year-around use of education facilities, accelerated college degrees and technologically enhanced education programs. The recommendations apply to both public and private colleges and universities and call for awarding about 100,000 additional college degrees by 2025.

The University is looking at increasing its annual enrollment by 1,400 additional undergraduate students and 100 graduate students, Sullivan said. Of these, approximately 980 slots – about 70 percent, consistent with the University's current in-state student ratio – would be reserved for in-state students.

However, Sullivan warned that the state must provide funding to make the expansion possible. "We're not just going to make classes larger," she said. "If there is no more additional money, there are going to be no more additional students."

• Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Arthur Garson, who will leave in May to become senior vice president for health policy and health systems at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, congratulated the senate for its members' contributions to the Commission on the Future of the University. He said the accomplishments of the commission included the international studies program; the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning; and the University's advancements in science, technology and research.

Another senator questioned Garson on faculty retention. Garson said the University had been doing a good job of retaining professors, some of which he acknowledged was due to the economic downturn that postponed some faculty members' retirement decisions. But he also said there were some who stayed because they appreciated U.Va.

"I would like to think we have been able to hold to people out of love," he said.

• The senate also opened voting on a revision of its bylaws. Not enough senators were at the meeting to approve the revision, so the meeting was "not adjourned" in order to give absent senators a chance to vote on the revision. The revisions include adding proxy voting for senators who cannot attend a meeting, and clarifying the duties of the past chair of the Faculty Senate and  appointed senators.  

— By Matt Kelly

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications