Phoebe Willis outlines goals for BOV term

Student member wants to look at mental health, collaboration with U.Va. at Wise

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Willis at the Board of Visitors retreat in August at the Boar's Head Inn.

Tim Dodson | Cavalier Daily

Since joining the Board of Visitors on June 1, third-year Law student Phoebe Willis says she is working to increase communication between the BOV and the student body.

As a nonvoting member, she is tasked with representing the wide range of opinions held by University students to the BOV.

“Over the summer, I have had the opportunity to meet with a lot of students to hear about what they love about U.Va. and the things they would like to see improved,” Willis said in an email statement. “From those discussions, I began working on a few initiatives.”

Willis is currently developing a campaign to provide a place for students to discuss how mental health has impacted their life or the life of a loved one.

“The goal is that by having a diverse group of students share their stories of dealing with mental health issues in a public forum, other students will feel comforted and empowered to seek help,” Willis said. “With the recent expansion of [Counseling and Psychological Services], U.Va is more equipped than ever to help students dealing with mental health issues.”

CAPS visits have increased from 7,000 to 9,000 since 2005, and the BOV is expecting up to 11,480 visits this year. It is expanding its outreach programs to schools, departments and residence halls in order to best serve the student body.

Willis is also working with Emily Lodge, Student Council president and fourth-year College student, to develop a Student Council committee to increase collaboration between University and U.Va.-Wise students. This committee would allow the two schools to share resources easily.

To increase communication between the BOV and University students, Willis said she hopes to organize future events modeled on a session held by the BOV during its retreat on Aug. 14-15.

During the retreat, Willis, the entire board and about 90 faculty members discussed possible solutions to challenges the University is likely to face in the next 20 years for three hours. Willis said the session was successful, and hopes to organize a similar event between the BOV and University students.

“The BOV members are the visionaries for the future of the University, and the students are currently living the U.Va experience, so increasing collaboration between the two will only result in better outcomes for future students,” Willis said. “I want to establish events that will be easily replicable for future student members to continue the interactions between students and BOV members.”

This year the BOV is considering expanding second-year housing options close to Grounds, Willis said.

As recent or current residents of on-Grounds housing, students have a unique view on possible new sites for upperclassmen housing, she said.

“The more student input that goes into this process, the better,” Willis said.

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