At a board meeting on Friday, members discussed rising construction costs on the grounds and a new Public Service Pathways program. The group also heard from Lily Roberts, new student member of the Board of Visitors and rising fourth-year architecture student.
The Board of Visitors is the governing body of the University, consisting of 17 members appointed by the Governor of Virginia for a four-year term. Board members meet quarterly to vote on University policies and budget, responsible for all long-term planning decisions involving the University.
University President Jim Ryan began the meeting by asking board members to provide advice on how to manage rising construction costs for a variety of ongoing projects across Grounds.
Current construction projects include the Ivy Corridor and Brandon Avenue projects, as well as the renovation of Alderman Library and the expansion of U.Va. Health. These projects are part of the University 2030 Strategic Plana 10-year roadmap to make the University the best public university by 2030.
“A lot of attention will have to be paid to construction over the next couple of years,” Chairman Ryan said. “I think we’re all going to have to be very careful to do everything we can to be as efficient and cost-effective as possible in the many construction projects we have underway.”
Members also discussed the development of the University Civil service career program for a long time. Presented to the Board of Trustees by Louis Nelson, Vice Provost for Academic Outreach and Professor of Architectural History, Public Service Pathways aims to provide a forum for students to explore public service while studying at the University.
“The basic idea behind [Public Service Pathways] We don’t need to create entirely new programs to help students interested in public service, because there are all kinds of opportunities both inside and outside the program,” Ryan said. “What we really need to do is organize what we have.”
The Public Service Pathways program has three goals – to expand how university students imagine public service and what it requires, to orient students to opportunities already present at the University to engage in public service, and to enable students to mentor each other.
The program will be offered as an elective for undergraduates, and those who commit to the program for their entire time will graduate as Presidential Public Service Scholar.
Program requirements will be met through internships, research or service related to the public service sector and students who complete the Pathways program will have access to opportunities for mentorship and connection with alumni throughout their course at the University. Students will choose from five different subject areas – topics offered in fall 2022 include public health and global sustainability, with the launch of technology and public interest justice in fall 2023 and the launch of the education in the fall of 2024.
“I am delighted that we are able to offer the Passport program to our students,” said Nelson. “U.Va. is about educating citizen leaders who are going to make a difference in the world. And the Public Service Pathways program is a great way to prepare for that journey.”
Wrapping up the meeting, Roberts thanked the members for giving him the opportunity to represent students on the board.
Roberts said she noticed several concerns in conversations with other students at the university, including a weakened sense of belonging. Roberts said she believes two contributing factors include Charlottesville more and more unaffordable housing market and a political environment where some students feel their views are not valued.
“I hope to see the board and senior executives strongly supportive of current and future efforts to address this diminished sense of belonging,” Roberts said. “And most of all, I look forward to working with all of you at this unique time in the University’s history.”
Friday’s meeting also marked the last for faculty member Joel Hockensmith, outgoing provost Liz Magill and LD members Britt Frank Conner and Barbara Fried, who received glowing remarks from Ryan.
“I don’t want to let this moment pass without thanking you for your incredibly generous support and always wise counsel,” Ryan said. “Honestly, I can’t quite imagine this council without its members, which is why I’m so glad you all agreed to attend every public session.”