Board hikes tuition, discusses new degree programs
Endowment returns beat peers, projections
“Based on the entering SAT scores of our class, we can never show improvement,” Sullivan said. “They did well on standardized tests coming in and they will do well on standardized tests going out.”
The Board of Visitors met last week to discuss future plans and approve major initiatives affecting the University community. Tuition hikes, new degrees and salary equity were among several items considered.
The Finance Committee approved rate increases for housing, tuition and dining for the 2014-15 school year.
All graduate schools will increase tuition, but the Darden School and the Law School will reduce the tuition gap between in-state and out-of-state students from $5,000 to $3,000. The Board increased tuition and fees 8 percent for Virginians and 3.7 percent for non-Virginians.
“This is important to us as a means for providing funds to needy students,” Darden School Dean Robert Bruner said. “All of this is going back to help students.”
Tuition increases for undergraduate students and the College at Wise will be discussed at the April Board meeting.
The cost of dining plans will increase by an average of four percent in order to meet rising food prices, along with other personnel and operating expenses.
Richard Kovatch, the associate vice president for business operations, said overall student satisfaction with dining services was at 5.7 out of a possible 7, according to a student satisfaction survey conducted last fall.
“This is trending upward, obviously our goal is to get as close to 7 as we can,” he said.
With new dining plans offered, about 500 more students signed up for dining plans this year. The University ultimate access meal plan is $393 more expensive than top plans at other Virginia universities, but Kovatch said he believes those plans do not compare to what is offered at the University.
Faculty housing rates will increase by an average of 2.7 percent.
“State policy requires that rents charged by the University for faculty and staff housing reflect the market rate for similarly sized properties,” Kovatch said of the change.
Kovatch said the average faculty stay in a University-owned property is 2.6 years, with 30 to 40 percent turnover on any given year.
The Finance Committee also heard Larry Kochard, the chief executive officer of the University of Virginia’s Investment Management Company, give a presentation at the meeting on the University’s endowment. Investment returns exceeded expectations both in the short term and the long term, Kochard said. Though the University outperformed several of its peer institutions, Kochard cautioned against taking these comparisons too seriously.
“There are times when we are going to do well relative to our peers and there are times when we are not going to do well relative to our peers,” he said.
Though the Board was pleased with the report, members took time to discuss the future and the likely chance that returns will not always exceed expectations.
The Educational Policy Committee began with presentations by the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, the Global Internship Program and Rhodes Scholarship recipient Charlie Tyson, a fourth-year College student.
Jefferson Scholars Foundation President Jimmy Wright began the committee’s proceedings with a presentation about the Foundation’s history, followed by a discussion of the organization’s current state of affairs and recent accomplishments. Wright highlighted the presence of Jefferson Scholars on Grounds and applauded the efforts of alumni to stay involved.
“Over 90 percent of our alumni have contributed financially or through service to the University,” he said.
Several current Jefferson Scholars took part in a question and answer session with topics ranging from why they chose to attend to the University to their most fulfilling activities on Grounds. At the end of the discussion, a couple of students took voiced suggestions to improve the University.
“I think there should be more merit scholarships at the University,” first-year College William Henagan said. “I’ve met a dozen kids who are equally if not more qualified than I am.”
Second-year College Marisa Reddy said that the University should invest more into the Computer Science department, noting widespread student interest in the subject.
Director of Global Internships Majida Bargach spoke about the University’s new global internship initiative, which aims to help students find opportunities to work abroad. She opened her speech by citing a survey that showed that internships and employment during college topped a list of attributes in terms of their importance to employers when evaluating graduates for hire.
Since the initiative began, alumni have served as an essential source of internships abroad, Bargach said. She also emphasized the importance of third-party providers, including non-profit organizations, in securing internships abroad.
“This is very useful when we have countries where the visa is very difficult to obtain,” she said.
Numerous students have expressed a desire to work abroad, Bargach said. Following her speech, two undergraduate students spoke about their experiences working abroad. Fourth-year engineering student Emily Evans spoke about how her work as a researcher in Uganda changed her life.
“Overall it was a completely transformative experience for me,” she said. “I think I really realized the commonalities between people.”
Charlie Tyson concluded the presentations by discussing the Rhodes Scholarship application process, recently modified rules for Rhodes essays and how the University could best prepare applicants. Tyson attributed his success to his professors, multiple opportunities to contribute as a scholar, the University’s tradition of self-governance and the inspiration provided by previous University Rhodes recipients.
“My biggest debts are to my professors, who have served as mentors and role models, and who have profoundly moved and inspired me during my time at the University,” Tyson said.
The committee concluded by approving two new majors, the Master of Science in Data Science and Master of Arts in European Studies.
The Special Committee on Diversity opened with discussion on the University’s historic association with slavery.
Marcus Martin, chairman of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, along with fellow chairman and history professor Kirt von Daake, presented on the commission’s efforts to create memorials and historic materials relating to slavery at the University.
Board member John Griffin applauded the work of the commission, noting that he struggled as a chairman of Guide Services to find any information on slavery at the University when he was an undergraduate.
“There was virtually no research on the history of slavery at the University,” he said.
The University will host a symposium in October to examine the work of the commission and similar efforts of invited peer institutions.
“We will use that opportunity to learn from the experiences of other institutions,” Griffin said. “We want to know what they’ve learned … and what to avoid.”
Education and Economics Prof. Sarah Turner followed with a presentation on the recently established faculty salary study group. The group is working to conduct a quantitative analysis on salary equity at the University.
“The work of the faculty salary study group starts from the premise that equitable compensation contributes to the long term objective of recruiting and retaining a really outstanding faculty,” Turner said.
Though salary equity has quantitative limitations, the group is examining 910 faculty members and attempting to present an initial report of salary equity by the end of the semester, Turner said.
“We’re hard at work in terms of synthesizing our results, figuring out how to present this work clearly and carefully to the University community,” she said.
University President Teresa Sullivan said the study is crucial, as the University moves toward merit awards based on peer-reviews. Though she believes peer-reviews better reflect the accomplishments of faculty members, they risk being contaminated by implicit reviewer bias.
“You actually need to do a quantitative review like this to balance the positive feedback of the peer-review system,” she said. “It’s also our legal duty to see that our faculty are equally compensated.”
The Special Committee on Strategic Planning discussed accreditation plans, data sciences and staff leadership.
Sullivan began with a presentation on the University’s upcoming review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The University must comply with 90 standards of accreditation every 10 years in order to meet the Association’s standards. The next review will be conducted from September 2014 to December 2017.
Sullivan spent the majority of her time at the meeting discussing the Quality Enhancement Plan, a required part of the accreditation process. The QEP focuses on improvement of student learning. It is difficult to develop a methodology to assess student improvement at the University due to high incoming standardized test scores, Sullivan said.
“Based on the entering SAT scores of our class, we can never show improvement,” she said. “They did well on standardized tests coming in and they will do well on standardized tests going out.”
Don Brown, the director of the Virginia Data Science Institute, followed Sullivan with a presentation on the progress of the institute. Brown said the University is at the forefront of data sciences, with a unique emphasis on cross disciplinary data studies.
“Most places are still concentrated in business and computer science,” he said. “They don’t have the full range that we do.”
As of Jan. 15, 88 students applied for the masters in data sciences, with 78 percent of applicants coming from outside the United States.
“We’re getting a very strong set of applicants,” Brown said. “This is a tribute to what we put together at the University.”
The institute has been working to recruit new faculty. Though experts in the data sciences are in high demand, the University has already recruited two new faculty members and Brown was optimistic about future hiring prospects.
Brown highlighted efforts to develop private cloud infrastructure at the University, a form of cloud computing which emphasizes security and control over customer data.
“[The private cloud] will give us the capability to do really important work not only in health but also in education and a number of other areas because the data has to be protected,” he said.
Susan Karkeek, the vice president and chief human resources officer, concluded the meeting with a presentation on staff development. Karkeek said the University is working to help staff at all levels become leaders and to view their work as a career, rather than a job.
Governance and Engagement
The Special Committee Meeting on Governance and Engagement listened to a presentation by Harvard Professor Emeritus Richard Chait on how the Board can maximize efficiency and contributions.
University boards face challenges such as team building, prioritization of goals and coordination with the administration, Chait said.
“If [the Board] wants to elevate to the highest purpose, the they must be aware what is on the President’s mind,” he said. “Nothing matters more than culture, and how the Board works together in order to perform their duties.”
The infrequency of meetings and the non-profit status of the Board make it difficult to establish good communication and an effective team mentality, he added.
Chait said outlining clear goals for meetings and implementing a rolling 12-month agenda would help the Board accomplish more and better serve its purpose of providing leadership to the University.