Students seek BOV position

The field of candidates vying for the student position on the Board of Visitors was narrowed Tuesday from 51 to 13 when semi-finalists were selected.

The new member will be announced in February, following another round of eliminations, according to current student Board member Lizzie Mullen.

The selection committee -- composed of Patricia Lampkin, vice president for student affairs; Sandy Gilliam, secretary to the Board; Mullen and an undisclosed number of students -- is looking for "a well-rounded student who is able to connect with everyone that he or she works with," Mullen said.

Mullen noted that evaluating applicants for the student Board position requires a different approach than selecting the best candidates for other leadership positions. She said a policy agenda is less important than a demonstrated ability to communicate student opinion to the board.

"If I were running for Student Council, for Honor, a group with direct authority over a certain section of the University, there would be a way to measure success," Mullen said, adding that "the student member does not get to come with a to-do list."

This year, 51 people applied for the position, Mullen said, noting that the number of applicants increased from 28 last year.

Third-year College student Wyatt Fore said he chose to apply for the position because he wanted to make sure student voices, especially those of minorities, were heard by the Board, noting that he also "wanted to be part of such a huge institution at U.Va."

Fore said he was notified by e-mail Tuesday that he had not made the cut to move on to the next round.

Mullen said the Board's student member is in a unique position because he or she works with students, administrators and Board members.

"I think we are looking for someone with good judgment and a passion for service at the University," said Mullen. "Being on the Board as a student member or fully appointed member is a tough job."

Unlike the other Board members, the student representative on the Board cannot vote.

Mullen said that while she initially thought this rule went against the idea of student self-governance, she has come to understand the reason for the policy. She noted that Board members are politically appointed while she is not, affording her the unique opportunity to share student views and work with students on both sides of an issue.

"Being able to really say that I am an impartial middle man is very helpful," said Mullen. "If I had voted down something and then tried to work with [the losing party], it would have brought animosity to the table."

Even if she did have a vote, she said she feels it would not be an accurate reflection of student sentiment on an issue.

"If I were to vote, it would be represented as student opinion, but it is not," Mullen said. "It is my opinion."

Mullen added that she has found that the Board has trusted her and her judgment.

"I have felt completely comfortable expressing my opinion, and when that happened, I felt like they listened," she said.

This year she said some of the Board's biggest achievements were in areas relating to diversity, and cited the hiring of the chief diversity officer, the high African-American graduation rate and increased procurement from minority owned businesses. In addition, she said she has lobbied to strengthen the undergraduate advising program.

Of all of the Board's achievements Mullen said the most exciting part of being on the Board this past year was participating in the launch of the Capital Campaign. The fruits of this effort, such as the South Lawn Project and increased academic prominence, will take time to realize, she said.

"The decisions the board makes are big, overarching decisions and it takes time for them to trickle down."

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