University President Jim Ryan appointed several professors and community members to a new working group designed to evaluate the relationships between the University and the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and other areas, the University announced in a press release Thursday morning.
The release says the group will determine places where the relationship between U.Va. and the surrounding areas could improve, which may include wages, housing, education and healthcare.
“Building a stronger relationship between UVA and the surrounding community is one of my top priorities as president,” Ryan said in the release. “The creation of this working group is a first step in what will be a robust effort to strengthen that relationship, and I am grateful to the members of the group for their willingness to help us get started.”
Relationships between U.Va. and the Charlottesville community have been at times strained, as activists push for the University to improve the conditions for its dining workers — who currently earn $10.65 an hour, less than the , and are for paid parental leave — and for the University to address in a growing affordable housing crisis in the city.
As Ryan began his tenure as University president this year, he launched a website and initiative entitled “Ours To Shape,” which sought feedback to create a roadmap for the University in three major areas, including community.
The group will be chaired by Michael Williams, an associate professor of surgery and director of the U.Va. Center for Health Policy, Fountain Fund Chair Erika Viccellio and Charlottesville School Board Chair Juandiego Wade. Ryan also appointed 13 members to the group, including staff members of local nonprofits, professors and one Law School student.
“I am honored to have been asked to serve on this committee,” Wade said in the release. “I believe my insight, along with the insight of the other committee members, will lead to recommendations that will be beneficial to the entire community. I hope we are able to consider and learn ways to strengthen past, current and potentially new partnerships.”