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BOV discusses potential uses for Strategic Investment Fund

May be used as seed funding for new organizations

On Wednesday, an ad hoc committee of the Board of Visitors met to discuss the Strategic Investment Fund.

The group, which was appointed by Rector William Goodwin, reviewed their goals and mission for the fund.

“This whole process of how we use this investment fund is probably going to go slower than you think it should,” Goodwin said. “We don’t really want to make any mistakes, we want to set the standard right and the bar high.”

One of the missions of the committee will be to review the Strategic Investment Fund from a government and process perspective, Vice Rector Frank Conner III said during the meeting.

Conner added that the board wants to work on formalizing a process to allow individual students to submit grants proposals for the fund.

After introducing the goals of the meeting, the committee members reviewed a presentation from Pat Hogan, executive vice president and chief operating officer, regarding the audit review performed by the state.

The auditors confirmed none of the money in the fund had come from tuition or state appropriations. It was also confirmed the BOV properly authorized all actions regarding the fund.

The presentation moved to discussing ways the funds might be spent, but it was stressed that no funds will be spent without the authorization of the board.

Hogan added that while it is important to recognize the importance of this reserve, the money is subject to market fluctuations. As a result, the amount of money available depends on the success of the investment.

Because the amount of money available per year is variable, the board is considering using the fund as seed money to create new initiatives and organizations on Grounds. The BOV would fund a project for a maximum of three years before it would have to fund itself.

“These funds should be used to initiate things that can carry themselves forward,” Goodwin said.

Conner added the funds may also be used for one time investments that wouldn’t extend past the three year timeframe.

After moving on to discuss potential places the money could be used, University President Teresa Sullivan outlined four potential fund allocation classes.

These are tentatively divided among access and affordability, research, research support and infrastructure and academic experience.

Sullivan said that the funds could be used for a variety of proposals that would fall into these categories, including investing in research infrastructure and curriculum innovation.

“The cost of infrastructure is often passed to students,” Sullivan said. “We’re trying to do it without using tuition or state appropriations.”

The University has already begun receiving proposals for funding from the Strategic Investment Fund. However, not everything can be addressed by money from the fund, Hogan said.

“We receive a lot of very good budget proposals, and some proposals are better aligned with the budget process,” Hogan said. “We’ll do our best to address everything.”