The Board of Visitors established the Strategic Investment Fund in 2016 to serve as a funding source for initiatives that have the potential to transform a critical area of knowledge or operation within the university.
The timing couldn’t be more appropriate.
UVA stands on the cusp of its third century in service to the state, nation and world, with ambitions to dramatically build on its mission to prepare citizen leaders and offer higher education leadership for tomorrow in a continuous pursuit of excellence. Transformative investments provide crucial support to power these ambitions and ideas, and they are critically needed in a time of tremendous pressure on the business model for public higher education.
The Strategic Investment Fund is a powerful tool to help accomplish that work. Without relying on tuition or tax dollars, the fund is projected to support up to $100 million annually in perpetuity for projects or areas with the potential to significantly advance the quality of education, research or health care services at UVA.
Since the fund launched, the Board has approved more than $307 million in support of 33 projects that fall under one of four broad investment areas: research, research infrastructure, academic experience, and access and affordability.
Initial investments have included new endowments enabling student scholarships and professorships, research and strategies that aim to end Type 1 diabetes, an initiative created to strengthen global democracy, and a cross-disciplinary center that could one day regenerate human tissue.
Proposals undergo a rigorous review process, and projects selected for investment must demonstrate measurable return on their stated goals and promise.
Here are some of the bold initiatives earning support from the Strategic Investment Fund.
- The Bicentennial Professors Fund provides a matching fund pairing philanthropy and strategic priorities for solutions that will continue to elevate the quality of a UVA education. In this case, a $75 million, multi-year commitment will enable the creation of an estimated 70 endowed professorships. The new fund supports a top priority of deans — hiring and retaining the best faculty — at a time when the University is affected by a national generational turnover among faculty ranks.
- The Mcintire School of Commerce is partnering with top business schools in Spain and China to develop managers’ cross-cultural understanding and international knowledge. Students in the Global Commerce program live and study as a cohort on three continents, learning from each other and from business faculty at three universities. The experience helps young managers learn to handle complex global business operations and skillfully move across cultures.
- Undergraduate Student Opportunities for Academic Research (USOAR) matches first-year, second-year and transfer undergraduate students who have financial need with paid research positions. Support from the Strategic Investment Fund will help expand USOAR by providing a 30 percent match to leverage federal funds, which cover 70 percent of student wages in the program.
Affordability and Access
- The Bicentennial Scholars Fund is a powerful statement of UVA’s commitment to affordability, keeping the University’s doors open wide to talented students from any background, regardless of their ability to pay. With an investment of up to $100 million over five years, this fund matches philanthropic commitments to endow need- and merit-based scholarships for undergraduates. The fund could grow to as much as $300 million and serve as a bridge to funding financial aid entirely through philanthropy rather than tuition dollars, greatly reducing pressure on tuition rates.
- Cornerstone Grants, created in January 2017, provide cost-of- attendance relief to qualifying middle-income, full-time Virginian undergraduates. Through the Cornerstone program, new and continuing in-state students with family incomes below $125,000 are eligible for grants of up to $2,000.
- As part of its ongoing effort to Increase Enrollment by nearly 1,200 in-state undergraduates by the fall of 2018, the Board of Visitors also designated $1.5 million from the Strategic Investment Fund to help accommodate an additional 100 new in-state students.
- The future could bring new methods to diagnose and treat brain injury, epilepsy and tremor from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases thanks to research advanced by a $15.7 million investment into Bold Research Advancement in Neuroscience at UVA. Using brain mapping, focused ultrasound, bioinformatics, imaging and data mining, faculty will accelerate research and improve diagnostics and treatment while pursuing cures.
- The Democracy Initiative recognizes the world’s urgent need for meaningful study of democracy’s successes and failures, opportunities and threats, and for policies strengthening democracies worldwide. Led by the College of Arts & Sciences, the initiative will feature research, teaching and public engagement.
- A School of Medicine team of doctors and faculty members has been leading the way in detecting, controlling and eventually curing Type 1 diabetes. Research partners include UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Data Science Institute, and an international research network based at UVA known as the Center for Diabetes Technology. A $17 million strategic investment boosts this cross-disciplinary approach. The need is great, and the ambitions are for even greater good.
- An investment into research computing will expand and strengthen UVA’s Computing Infrastructure. The project will provide more reliable and resilient service for advanced high-performance computing clusters, helping maintain a level of computing resources that assists efforts to attract and retain top research faculty.
- The Multifunctional Materials Integration Initiative brings together more than 40 researchers developing materials and devices with unprecedented energy efficiency and functionality. As technologies become more powerful and pervasive, the need to better manage the energy they consume and produce becomes more important. New materials could be the key. Another promising area of research backed by this $10 million investment is in “manufactured senses,” such as artificial vision. The materials initiative will enable faculty to conduct competitive research in materials design, synthesis and characterization, while also facilitating hiring and retention of key faculty.
- The Center for Advanced Biomanufacturing will help UVA compete for new federal funding for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Applications include limb and organ replacement and treatment of birth defects and nerve damage. This $3 million investment in research infrastructure and equipment will advance these programs, accelerate translational research and support state-of-the-art tissue regenerative materials and tissue biofabrication.