Sullivan discusses strategic plan

Sullivan addresses future vision of the University, Nash fields reform questions


University President Teresa Sullivan spoke about the University’s strategic planning process at Wednesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, where she addressed what it meant to be a public university.

“I would like to see us a little more aspirational,” Sullivan said. “When you’re already at the top of a lot of ratings, that can be hard. But [we have to ask], how can we still be the school everyone still wants to be at in five years? Ten years?”

Sullivan spoke of the need to train a new international generation and of the University’s role in moving higher education forward.

“Thomas Jefferson founded this university with the goal to create an educated citizenry, which gives us a clear sense of purpose today,” Sullivan said. “Increasingly, we will be training not only national but also global leaders.”

As the University ventures forward with a partnership with online-learning provider Coursera, Sullivan reaffirmed the school’s commitment to a more personal brand of education. As massive open online courses, or MOOCs, enter the market, Sullivan emphasized the importance of maintaining the value of a degree earned on Grounds.

“Not to say we won’t engage with new technology, but the metaphor of the Academical Village tells us about something about the importance of face-to-face learning,” Sullivan said.

Faculty Senate members, who at the meeting approved a new quantitative finance track, or concentration, for Commerce School students to stay competitive among recruiters, echoed Sullivan’s calls for modern, relevant education.

Commerce Prof. Trey Maxham explained the importance of having an advanced mathematical modeling skill set in today’s financial market. Maxham emphasized the importance of giving University students every possible edge as the finance world shifts from big banks to smaller firms.

“Recruiters expressed increasing need for students to have these more advanced skills,” Maxham said. “Students themselves have been coming to [our] faculty and asking for them to offer tools for develop this broader set of skills.”

The Faculty Senate also approved a new B.S. degree in astronomy. The program would replace the current B.A. in astrophysics, which department members said would be superfluous with the creation of the new, more intensive B.S. track.

Honor Committee Chair Stephen Nash, a fourth-year College student, also spoke to the Faculty Senate, calling for faculty support as the Committee looks to promote its proposed Restore the Ideal Act. The proposal, approved by the Honor Committee in January, introduces an informed-retraction option for students accused of honor offenses and moves for honor trial juries to be made up entirely of elected Committee representatives.

Faculty members refrained from commenting on the planned reforms. Instead they questioned Nash about potential issues surrounding disproportionate racial reporting and the viability of the single sanction.

Students will vote on the proposal starting Feb. 25.

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