Jim Ryan

Jim Ryan

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors gave the go-ahead Friday for the university’s 2030 Plan and kick-started the process for shoring up the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and creating the School of Data Science.

The 2030 strategic plan, developed by President Jim Ryan and his team, includes initiatives for financial aid, adult education, community and faculty development and new fields of study. Several financial resolutions, as well as the fiscal year 2020 budget, introduced first steps for some aspects of the plan, which is still awaiting an official implementation plan and a final vote of approval, likely due in August.

On Thursday, a board committee approved selling off a share of one of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies’ satellite buildings in Falls Church, and on Friday a committee approved spinning off revenue from the sale to create a $6.3 million quasi-endowment for the school that will fund future maintenance and operating costs.

“There are big things to be done by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and this is a wise place to put this money,” said Jim Murray, chairman of the board’s finance committee and incoming rector of the university.

In March, the continuing education school announced a layoff of half of its staff and faculty, due to a growing deficit.

“As you know, Alex Hernandez has downsized SCPS and cut a few programs because we think they need to refocus on the bachelor’s of interdisciplinary studies,” said Ryan, who said the new focus, which encourages adults with some credit to quickly finish college, as well as certificate programs across the university, will help address a key need for lifelong learning across the state.

Part of a $120 million gift from the Quantitative Foundation to establish the School of Data Science will go to creating a small quasi-endowment for that program.

The board also discussed the strategic plan’s initiatives of increasing research, study abroad experience, student well-being and residential housing. On the whole, board members offered strong approval for the initiatives.

“These are not meant to be the totality of what the university is doing,” said Mike Lenox, a professor at the Darden School of Business and co-chair of the strategic planning committee. “These are the big bets that the university is pursuing.”

Board member Jeff Walker asked if UVa plans to create a residential system in the style of Harvard University, where all undergraduates live and take some classes in a specific building.

“It’s broader than that — but I do think it’s about creating a community that you’ll be a part of all four years,” Ryan responded.

Ryan said he did want to forge some aspects of social life around a residence hall. Some ideas, too, like creating Harry Potter-like houses, would be free to implement.

The discussion came after approval of a $3.7 billion academic and medical budget for the fiscal 2020 year. The budget is split relatively evenly between UVa’s academic side and its Health System.

UVa and every other public college in Virginia will not increase in-state tuition for the 2019-20 school year, taking advantage of a tuition remission deal from the General Assembly.

On Friday, the board also approved a $128.6 million investment in one-time startup costs for strategic projects, including increasing the minimum wage for full-time university employees, cluster hire and start-up packages for in-demand faculty, and safety and security projects.

Research and public service expenditures will increase by 13%, from about $386 million to $441 million.

Murray said he is monitoring rising construction and administrative costs.

The overall budget also includes $14.6 million for the Medical Center to offer market and merit wage increases and implement a new minimum wage for full-time staff.

“The bottom line is, it’s clearly the right thing to do, so we’re doing it,” said Doug Lischke, chief financial officer for the Health System, after the meeting.

In its final session, the board also voted to give Ryan a 3% merit raise and his annual performance bonus.

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Ruth Serven Smith is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact her at (434) 978-7254, rserven@dailyprogress.com or @RuthServen on Twitter.

Ruth Serven Smith is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact her at (434) 978-7254, rserven@dailyprogress.com or @RuthServen on Twitter.

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