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BOV to vote on rededication of Frank Hume Memorial Wall, statement on free speech

The various committees and full Board will consider several proposals during meetings scheduled Thursday and Friday

<p>The Buildings and Grounds Committee will also hear an update on the removal and relocation of the George Rogers Clark statue, which the Board of Visitors voted to remove and relocate last fall.</p>

The Buildings and Grounds Committee will also hear an update on the removal and relocation of the George Rogers Clark statue, which the Board of Visitors voted to remove and relocate last fall.

The Board of Visitors will meet Thursday and Friday to consider various action items, including rededicating the Frank Hume Memorial Wall and supporting the Committee on Free Speech and Inquiry’s public statement on free expression at the University. Meetings will be held in both open and closed session and can be accessed through the Board of Visitors’ livestream.

Building and Grounds Committee

At its meeting from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday, the Board’s Buildings and Grounds Committee will vote on whether to replace the Frank Hume Memorial Wall’s inscription based on the recommendation made by the University's Committee on Naming and Memorials. 

The committee’s recommendation to the Board is to refer to the Frank Hume Memorial Wall as the Whispering Wall, replace all blocks on the Whispering Wall that contain inscriptions with blocks of a different color and include the history of the Hume Memorial as part of the digital contextualization of statues and memorials on Grounds.

Hume was a Confederate soldier elected twice to the Virginia House of Delegates. Though Hume himself never attended the University, both of his sons were alumni and funded the construction of the Frank Hume Memorial Wall after his death.

“Our aim, then, in making this recommendation to President Ryan and the Board is neither to erase history nor to change it, but to enliven present and future generations — whose lives, like ours, are invested in our ambitious educational enterprise — to the circumstances under which a significant feature of the built environment on our Grounds was created and named,” the recommendation reads. “We seek to inculcate a deeper understanding of why history matters to our University culture and to the values we publicly espouse.”

The Board voted to rededicate or remove the wall last fall, and the University commissioned the Committee on Naming and Memorials in February to establish protocols on naming, renaming and contextualizing notable spaces on Grounds.

In April, the Board voted to support the Committee on Naming and Memorial’s recommendation to digital contextualize memorials. The committee said this solution will allow students, visitors and community members to develop an “informed perspective” on the various statues and memorials located across Grounds. According to the recommendation, both the number of memorials and their physical locations do not make physical contextualization feasible and digital contextualization will allow for both flexibility and accessibility.

Many students and groups have campaigned for the removal of the Frank Hume Memorial Wall due to Hume’s Confederate background over the past year. The Committee on Naming and Memorials hosted a listening session in April at which over 20 students, faculty, alumni and members of the community called on the committee to remove the memorial in its entirety. The memorial was also vandalized twice this spring.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee will also hear an update on the removal and relocation of the George Rogers Clark statue, which the Board  voted to remove and relocate last fall as well as the University’s 2030 Sustainability Plan and the progress of the new Student Health and Wellness Center, which is expected to be completed this summer.

Meeting of the Full Board 

At the meeting of the full Board Friday from 1:15 to 3 p.m., the Board will vote on the endorsement of the free speech statement written by the University's Committee on Free Speech and Inquiry. Created in February, the Committee on Free Speech and Inquiry was charged with the responsibility of writing a public statement identifying the roles of free expression and free inquiry in the University's academic enterprise, noting how these principles shape engagement with the ideas of others. 

The proposed statement affirms that all views, beliefs and perspectives should be “articulated and heard free from interference,” noting that exposure to a range of ideas is necessary to students’ personal development and social progress.

“The University must not stifle protected expression, permit others to obstruct or shut down such expression, or regulate the tone or content of responses that stop short of interfering with others’ speech or violating the law,” the statement reads. “Rather than seek to control speech or countenance its silencing, the University must promote values of mutual respect, while emphasizing that their vitality rests with the self-governance of speakers and listeners.”

The proposed statement also notes that because free speech inevitably involves conflicting views and disagreements that may be offensive, noxious or harmful, members of the University community should “engage as empathetic speakers and generous listeners.”

Free speech has been a source of controversy at the University over the past year, particularly when the University removed and restricted Lawn room door signage that criticized the University’s history of enslavement and exclusivity. Some alumni and community members called on the University to remove the original sign.

The Committee on Free Speech and Inquiry held a two-hour listening session in May at which students, alumni, parents and community members voiced their opinions on free speech at the University. Numerous faculty members expressed worry that the University no longer tolerates criticism of its own policies while some participants said that they do not think all viewpoints are tolerated in academic settings. 

The Board will also hear an update on the progress of the 2030 Strategic Plan and remarks from Sarita Mehta, student member of the Board and fourth-year College student, at the meeting of the full Board Friday.

Academic and Student Life Committee

The Academic and Student Life Committee will meet 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday. The committee will vote on the establishment of several professorships, including the John and Barbara Glynn Professorship in Venture Capital, the Glynn Family Bicentennial Professorship in Law, the Galant Bicentennial Professorship, the Richard and Donna Tadler Bicentennial Professorship and the Quantitative Foundation Bicentennial Professorship of Education. 

The committee will also vote on the establishment of a new degree program — a doctorate in computational biology — to be offered by the School of Medicine. The 72-credit degree program will focus on systems bioengineering, computational genomics or statistical genetics. If passed, the degree program will be forwarded to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia for review.

The committee will also consider a proposal to discontinue a degree program — the Education Specialist in Administration and Supervision offered by the School of Education. The degree program was first established in 1974 to prepare individuals interested in leadership and administrative positions in K-12 schools, community colleges and non-profit organizations. Enrollment in the program declined from 10 students in 2015 to zero students in 2019, and the program stopped enrollment in 2020.

Following this, Provost Liz Magill will introduce Robyn Hadley, who officially became vice president and chief student affairs officer Tuesday after her appointment was announced March 20. In the role, Hadley will lead a team of over 200 student affairs professionals and will work with the Office of the Dean of Students, Student Health and Wellness, the Office of African-American Affairs and the University Career Center. Hadley will succeed Patricia Lampkin, who has served as chief student affairs officer at the University for more than 20 years. 

Vice Provost for Enrollment Stephen Farmer will provide remarks on the incoming first-year and transfer students who will enroll at the University beginning in fall 2021. Farmer — Class of 1986 alumnus of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences — returned to the University in January 2021. As the University's first-ever vice provost for enrollment, Farmer works with Student Financial Services, the University Registrar and the Office of Undergraduate Admission to attract applicants, recruit students and support financial and enrollment needs for University students.

According to preliminary data, 3,963 first-year students and 760 transfer students will matriculate in fall 2021. Among them, 63 percent, or 2,982 students, are Virginia residents, while 37 percent, or 1,741 students, are from out of state. The class’s incoming students represent 49 states and 90 countries. 

Nine percent of the incoming class is Black while 7 percent are Hispanic or Latinx and 1 percent are American Indian or Alaska native. Thirteen percent of the incoming class will be first-generation college students while 14 percent are legacy students.

Eighty-nine percent of first-years were in the top 10 percent of their high school class, with 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores of 1420 and 1520, respectively. Applicants to the University were not required to submit standardized testing scores this year — 42 percent of the 47,827 applicants this year did not submit test scores, while 28 percent of students admitted did not submit scores. 

The University also announced in January that standardized testing will not be required for an additional two application cycles, during which time the Office of Admissions plans to study whether standardized testing is fair and equitable for all students, as well as whether it serves as a reliable indicator of student academic success at the University.

The Finance Committee will meet Friday from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. to vote on a proposed $3.99 billion operating budget for its academic division, the University’s College at Wise and the Medical Center through the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

The academic division operating expenditure budget — which includes research activity, salary increases, financial aid and general expenses — is proposed at $1.99 billion, which is a 5.8 percent increase from the previous year. The proposed operating expenditure budget for the College at Wise is $56.3 million, a 15.1 percent increase from the previous year, while the medical center proposed operating budget is $1.95 billion, a 6.7 percent increase from the previous year.

The Health System Board will meet Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in both open and closed session to consider U.Va. Health’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year. The Committee on the University’s College at Wise will meet Thursday from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. in both open and closed sessions to both appoint and reappoint individuals to the College’s Board, as well as hear updates on the College at Wise’s strategic plan. Other committees that will meet to consider various action items and hear updates include the Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee, which will meet Thursday from 2:15 to 3:00 p.m. and the Advancement Committee, which will meet Thursday from 8:30 to 9:30 to hear a fundraising and campaign progress report.