Trustees of fund focused on diversity and inclusion present to Board of Visitors

The trustees shared previous goals, intent to move forward with Board members


Tierney Fairchild, a Curry alumna and IDEA fund trustee, presented at the Advancement Committee meeting Thursday.

Sarah Lindamood | Cavalier Daily

Four current trustees of the IDEA fund presented their plans for increasing diversity  and inclusion in the University community at the Board of Visitors Advancement Committee meeting Thursday. 

The trustees who presented at the meeting in the Rotunda were Darden and Curry alumna Tierney Fairchild, Law alumnus Chet Hurwitz, Darden and Law alumnus John Muleta and Commerce almuna Tina Shah Paikeday. 

The Office of Diversity and Equity established the IDEA Fund —  in which IDEA stands for inclusion, diversity, equity and access — in 2010 and submitted it to the President’s Office as an effort to increase diversity and inclusion on Grounds. 

The IDEA Fund will partner with key departments at the University and offer them and other institutions annual endorsed awards, provide mini-grants to multicultural student organizations, advocate for specific issues and promote forums to elicit feedback from students and faculty.

Muleta said the IDEA fund has been utilized for a number of causes at the University with the aim of promoting inclusivity, diversity and accessibility. 

“A very specific program that we’re working with is Career Services to create good outcomes for low-income, transfer, first-generation students get externships because they don’t have the social capital to make connections, so we’re providing the funding for the program for that,” Muleta said. 

The program with Career Services started in 2017 and will continue until 2019 with up to $150,000 of funding. In 2014-16, an early identification program was also established in conjunction with the IDEA fund to work with the admissions office to track potential University applicants and families from diverse middle schools. From 2012-13, the IDEA fund teamed up with the Office for Diversity and Equity to create a slavery report to further engage with the formation of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University.

Fairchild, who served as the first chair of the IDEA fund, said the fund’s first project, “Big IDEA,” was inspired by Monticello’s exhibit on Jefferson and his slaves. This prompted her to think about “why U.Va hadn’t really amplified its early history.” The project commissioned a report on the University’s past and current activities surrounding slavery and also commissioned a plaque in memory of Henry Martin, a bell-ringer at the University who was initially enslaved and freed around 20 years after his birth in 1847. 

In relation to the contributions of the trustees themselves to the fund, Fairchild said the they do not have a soley financial role. 

“I mean, we bring our money, yes, but we bring our time and talent, and we really look at ways in which we can amplify the good work that some people may be doing,” Fairchild said. 

After investing their time and capital into the fund, the trustees hope to partner with the University’s Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity to acquire support for future programs. 

“The mission that I think the University is going to have to deal with for the future is — how do we become inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible environment and how do we achieve good outcomes for our students,” Muleta said. 

Some of the alumni have been involved with the goal of diversity and inclusion during their respective times at the University. 

“I had the honor of serving on the Honor Committee and doing a lot of work to really infuse diversity into the committee given some of the issues that concerned us back then,” Paikeday said. “I’m excited to be apart of the IDEA Fund because I can really be in the University through the IDEA Fund in a way that’s very different … [and] have a voice at the table as alumni.”

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