60% of U.Va. students say they don’t know enough about BOV

Board of Visitors serves as school’s head governing body

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The Board of Visitors is a group of 17 voting members appointed by the governor of Virginia and confirmed by the General Assembly. 

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

Nearly 60 percent of students do not know enough about the Board of Visitors to form an opinion about them, according to a recent poll conducted by The Cavalier Daily with the help of a faculty advisory panel and the Center for Survey Research.

The Board of Visitors is a group of 17 voting members appointed by the governor of Virginia and confirmed by the General Assembly. They serve four-year terms and are currently led by Rector William H. Goodwin, Jr.

The board also includes a student member and a faculty member.

Although nearly 60 percent of students said they did not have enough information about the Board of Visitors to comment, some students said they believe the information is available for them to seek it out.

Rachel Fidlow, a first-year College student and survey respondent, said she did not know much about the Board of Visitors or the administration.

“I really don’t know what the [Board of Visitors] is and I don’t know if that’s something that’s important for me to know,” Fidlow said. “I’m sure that information is available somewhere but I didn’t even know it was something I should look up.”

McLain Faett, a third-year Commerce student and survey respondent, had a similar response.

“I know that they make important decisions on behalf of U.Va., but beyond that and what specific role they have, I’m not too sure,” Faett said. “I think I could find [information] if need be and I’m sure I would find everything satisfactory, but I guess it couldn’t hurt for U.Va. to be a little bit more proactive.”

As the governing body of the University, the Board of Visitors deals with many different policy areas, such as tuition, student housing, curriculum and other issues generally concerning student life.

The board has recently dealt with policies such as the Strategic Investment Fund, approving a master plan for student housing on Brandon Avenue, hiring a firm for the memorial for enslaved laborers and renaming Jordan Hall to Pinn Hall.

Special-status organizations such as Honor and the University Judiciary Committee also derive their power from the Board of Visitors. Their committees include Academic and Student Life, Advancement, Building and Grounds, Finance, and Audit, Compliance and Risk.

Phoebe Willis, third-year Law and Darden student and the student member of the Board of Visitors, said the board works to be accessible.

“The meeting agendas are posted online in advance of each meeting,” Willis said in an email statement. “Students often attend the meetings, and I know that many board members interact with students at other meetings and various events throughout the academic year. Students are invited to participate in panel discussions at board meetings as well.”

Willis said she attempts to communicate with the student body via her email newsletters and meetings with student groups, of which she has had over 20 this semester.

“I am actively working to make information about the Board more transparent and accessible to the student body,” Willis said. “Students can also contact me directly to share any ideas or concerns.”

The board will next meet Dec. 7-9.

Board of Visitors Rector William Goodwin declined to comment for this article.

To learn about polling methodology, click here.

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