Year in Review: 2013-2014

University to replace six key administrators, passes strategic planning, continues to address fraternity conduct

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“I believe very strongly in the merits of fraternities, but this is one area where there is no room for negotiating and it has to stop,” Dean of Students Allen Groves said in an April interview.

The defining events of the 2013-14 year include widespread response to changes to AccessUVa, a seemingly endless search for new deans, the passage of the University’s Cornerstone plan and heightened administrative intervention in University fraternities’ new member education — or “pledging” — processes.

Cuts to AccessUVa

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Members of the University community protested the cuts to all-grant aid at a Board of Visitors Meeting in November
Marshall Bronfin | The Cavalier Daily

An August vote to cut costs in the University’s flagship financial aid program — AccessUVa — began a series of student protests to the Board of Visitors’ decision.

“The program costs have increased dramatically since it was implemented in 2004, while … the demand for financial aid by families has increased,” Board Rector George Martin said in a press release at the time. “The Board adopted a more balanced approach to make sure AccessUVa will be around to help future students and families for the long run.”

Specifically, students who were previously eligible for all-grant aid must now have begin taking out loans, capped at $14,000 for in-state students and $28,000 for out-of-state students.

The changes prompted protest from students and alumni alike, including the “I am not a loan” petition, a silent student protest at the November Board meeting and the emergence of a student group called Restore AccessUVa.

“AccessUVa’s costs are only a tiny percentage of the University’s overall budget,” said fourth-year College student Hajar Ahmed at the November protest. “The main issue is that we are not a priority to [the] administration. … We are calling on the Board to reorganize their priorities.”

The University community responded to the cries with several headline-making gifts. In December’s “Giving TueHoosDay” fundraising event, University President Teresa Sullivan matched $10,000 worth of donations to AccessUVa. In February, Board member John Griffin, who voted for the changes to the program, announced a $4 million dollar challenge grant to fundraise for the program for a potential $8 million donation. The University Bookstore also donated 25 percent of its revenue during Founder’s Day weekend in April to the program — almost $20,000.

The dean search

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Many deans, including Darden Dean Robert Bruner, pictured above, announced this year they will step down when their contracts expire.
The Cavalier Daily

The University saw six of its key administrators announce their plans to step down in the last academic year. College Dean Meredith Woo, Architecture Dean Kim Tanzer, Batten Dean Harry Harding, Darden Dean Robert Bruner, Engineering Dean James Aylor and Miller Center Director Gerald Baliles all announced they would not seek reappointment.

Sullivan announced Duke English Prof. Ian Baucom would replace Woo starting next academic year. Baucom currently heads a global consortium of interdisciplinary humanities centers and said he hopes to expand the College’s global reach.

“What I want to do is foreground both issues of access … and questions of the diversity of the student body and the faculty and curricular offerings,” Baucom said in an interview last month.

Michigan Prof. Allan Stam will take over the Batten dean post July 1. The University expects to announce a replacement for Tanzer shortly, since it began the Architecture deans search months ago. The search for Baliles’, Aylor’s and Bruner’s replacements are just now beginning.

Strategic planning initiative passes

The University’s new Cornerstone plan, approved in November, will dictate the large-scale goals the University pursues for at least the next decade.

“The University of Virginia enjoys a position of strength and prestige earned over time,” Martin said in a November press release. “Our new strategic plan embraces, but does not rest upon, this reputation. It sets the bar higher. It challenges us to build upon our accomplishments while identifying exciting new frontiers.”

The plan looks to engage students in an engaging and residential educational experience, promote research among a distinguished faculty and promote both academic excellence and affordability.

Among the plan’s goals is an overhaul of the University’s advising system. The University has engaged students in surveys as part of this effort, and student groups, including ULink, have emerged to assist in the effort.

Fraternity pledging investigation prompt two FOA revocations

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Both Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Nu, pictured above, lost their Fraternal Organization Agreements with the University this April.
John Pappas | The Cavalier Daily

As the school year came to a close, two University fraternity chapters — Sigma Nu and Pi Kappa Alpha — lost their Fraternal Organization Agreements with the school following findings of misconduct during the pledging process.

“I believe very strongly in the merits of fraternities, but this is one area where there is no room for negotiating and it has to stop,” Dean of Students Allen Groves said in an April interview.

Sigma Nu was found to have submitted pledges to what Groves called “extensive calethstenics,” and Pi Kappa Alpha dumped condiments on the pledges heads and forced them to eat an onion. In the following weeks, both chapters lost their charters from the international and national fraternities.

University Inter-Fraternity Council President Tommy Reid, a third-year in the College, said the IFC completely stood by the University’s decision.

“The IFC is disappointed by the dangerous and unhealthy actions of these fraternities, which run contrary to the remarkable movement towards more sustainable new member education that has been achieved by many chapters across the IFC,” an April IFC statement reads. “The suspension of these two chapters highlights the need to continue implementing safe and beneficial new member education processes, and how imperative it is that any chapters not in compliance do so immediately.”

The University will not consider applications for new FOA agreements from either fraternity until May 1, 2016.


Published May 13, 2014 in News









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