The University of Virginia on Monday joined forces with five other Virginia universities to advance marine and coastal science by signing a charter with Virginia Sea Grant, a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“The University of Virginia is committed to preserving and sustaining Virginia’s coastal and marine ecosystems through research and education,” said UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan, who signed the charter during an event in Richmond. “We are proud to join this collaborative effort with Virginia Sea Grant, and we look forward to working with our fellow institutions of higher education on this very worthy cause.”
The other participating universities are the College of William & Mary, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University. The presidents of each of those institutions participated in the signing event, as well as Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Secretary of Education Anne Holton and Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward.
The charter gives partner institutions a greater advisory role in Virginia Sea Grant, including participation on its Research Advisory Committee and its Policy and Oversight Board. It formalizes a commitment among the partner institutions toward collaboration and coordination on coastal and marine science research, education and outreach across Virginia.
“The charter is our way to operationalize our commitment to integrating our programs and enabling connections across our institutions,” said Troy Hartley, Virginia Sea Grant director.
While UVA has been a Sea Grant institution for many years, this is the first charter that formalizes joint goals toward collaboration among member institutions.
“This agreement is a way to leverage the strengths of our individual institutions to focus together on improving the resilience of Virginia’s coastal communities,” said Karen McGlathery, UVA’s associate vice president for research, sustainability and the environment. “We each have much to offer, and combining our expertise puts us in a strong position to address such challenges as climate change, sea-level rise and storm surge.”
Hartley said that cooperative research and outreach are essential to solving big coastal environmental issues, including pollution, habitat decline and declining fisheries.
“It’s important to break down boundaries and to cross those boundaries, whether they are institutional, operational or functional; extension, research or communication; social science or natural science,” Hartley said. “That’s where innovation and problem-solving comes from.”
Founded in 1984, Virginia Sea Grant is a multi-university organization whose mission is to enhance the ecological, economic and social sustainability of coastal and ocean communities in Virginia and the ecosystem services they depend upon through university-based research, extension, education and communications that provide science-based information to decision-makers.