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UVa students suggest improvements

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Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 10:59 pm | Updated: 11:20 am, Thu Jan 17, 2013.

At a forum for students to discuss their thoughts on the University of Virginia's strategic planning efforts, two items stood out: Concerns about the academic advising system and a suggestion to increase the number of out-of-state students.

"There were some new things," said J. Milton Adams, senior vice provost.

Such a proposal would allow UVa to go after top intellectual talent and address concerns about declining state funding, said Mark Gruetzmacher, a fourth year and student representative to the Public University Working Group.

During breakout sessions, students discussed a variety of facets of strategic planning. The students who opted to talk about the future of the public university came up with the proposal, along with several other points.

Concerns about advising also came up several times times, with students worried about the level of knowledge and individual interest of advisers.

There were both good and bad comments about the new advising seminars some first-year students now take. Some students praised them, but others worried the courses were considered too easy.

Students take the one-credit courses, which meet once a week, with a professor who is also their adviser, Adams said after the forum.

"I thought the conversation was positive and fruitful," said Ari Dimas, a graduate student on the Streamlining Working Group.

Wednesday's meeting was part of a series that began late last year. The Technology Working Group will have its public forum today at 2 p.m. in the South Meeting Room of Newcomb Hall. The Student Life Working Group will have its public forum today at 4 p.m. The groups are holding other meetings in private, but each group also held or will hold a public forum.

The strategic planning process began after the summer's leadership crisis. One of the things for which President Teresa A. Sullivan was criticized was a lack of strategic planning. She had, however, prepared a strategy memo, which noted that she had been specifically instructed by the board to limit herself to carrying out existing strategic plans, rather than creating a new one of her own.

Since the crisis ended, the university's Board of Visitors has been involved with strategic planning, and the university administration has created a permanent position, staffed by Adams, to oversee the university's planning.

The working groups and a steering committee will work with consultants to develop material that will eventually be shown to the board

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