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BOV approves $10 million Engineering School project

Meeting of full board also hears updates from Sullivan, Willis

<p>University President Teresa Sullivan’s updates discussed the University’s upcoming accreditation review later in March.</p>

University President Teresa Sullivan’s updates discussed the University’s upcoming accreditation review later in March.

The March Board of Visitors meeting concluded Friday afternoon with a meeting of the full Board, which included presentations by University President Teresa Sullivan, outgoing student Board member Phoebe Willis and the Faculty Senate Chair Margaret Riley. The approval of a new project for the Strategic Investment Fund was also on the agenda.

The project, titled the SEAS Multifunctional Materials Integration Initiative, aims to use $10 million of the fund to purchase new equipment for the Engineering School to “conduct competitive research in materials design, syntheses and characterization,” according to the request proposal.

The ultimate goal of the initiative would be to transform the University into “a global leader in the study of advanced materials, especially for energy applications.” The proposal was approved unanimously.

Board member L.D. Britt gave a presentation on the current state of the University Hospital and his hopes for the future.

“The U.Va. health system is in a strong position to weather the coming challenges in healthcare,” Britt said. “U.Va. should be considered the hospital of hope. We will not shy away from high risk cases.”

President Sullivan’s updates discussed the University’s upcoming accreditation review later in March.

“In [the regional accreditor’s] earlier review of their 95 standards, they found us to be deficient in seven of those,” Sullivan said. “We’ve since responded to that, and I expect those to be resolved successfully.”

Sullivan also discussed the successes of the University career services, noting that 211 companies and over 2,000 students attended the spring career fair — a record high in both aspects.

“Advising is important to both our students and parents,” Sullivan said. “Part of that is helping our students prepare for their professional careers.”

For Law and Darden graduate student Phoebe Willis, this was her last Board meeting as the student member. During her remarks, she focused on presenting issues that students are experiencing on Grounds, one of which is the difficulty for students to enroll in computer science courses.

“There is an unbelievable demand for students who want to get into introductory computer science courses,” Willis said. “This ties into the conversation of ‘what does higher education look like in the next 10 to 15 years? What kinds of skills and knowledge do we need to be preparing our students with?’”

Faculty Senate Chair Margaret Riley spoke about the current social climate at the University during her comments to the Board.

“There was more tension on Grounds than any time that I could remember,” Riley said. “Faculty are very concerned about how immigration issues affect us. We have to be able to travel freely, and we also have to be able to invite the world to our community.”

Since taking office in January, President Donald Trump has worked to implement stricter immigration policies. Trump’s executive actions have led to a large protest on the Lawn and a faculty-organized teach-in. The University has been working to provide resources to students, faculty and staff affected by changing immigration and travel policies.

Riley encouraged discourse and debate on Grounds, calling the University “a beacon for all universities.”

“We need to teach faculty to not just look at what’s in front of them, but what’s forward,” Riley said. “If we can be bold, we can succeed.”