I hope you all are well and enjoyed a well-deserved spring break! I write to update you all on the Board of Visitors’ March quarterly meeting, which took place on March 3rd and 4th and was my last meeting as your student representative.
Before providing the update, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your resilience during this tumultuous year and time. Each of your efforts has made an indelible contribution to the community which defines this institution. So, thank you.
Key Highlights of March Meeting
- Academic & Student Life – The Board heard a presentation from new Provost Ian Baucom regarding efforts to improve the undergraduate advising system. Advising has been a priority of mine since the start of my term, and there are exciting and tangible changes in store. Provost Baucom shared a plan to institute new advising online platforms, ensure students have primary advisors who are trained and knowledgeable, and to increase and expand what advising means. I welcome any and all input you may have on this topic! Vice President Robyn Hadley, who heads up Student Affairs, also discussed with us her plans to bolster the first-year experience and grapple with the lingering effects of the pandemic. Lastly, new Head Football Coach Tony Elliott spoke to the Board about the implications of name, image and likeness (NIL) policies, other changes within the NCAA, and his vision for the coming years. I am a huge fan!
- Buildings & Grounds – I am sure you are well-aware of the construction on Grounds. The Board heard an update on the ongoing construction projects, in addition to some updates on the Capital Plan. I’ll give you some quick dates of expected timelines on construction projects: Gilmer Hall is expected to be completed this summer, Alderman Library is expected to be completed in fall 2023, and construction is expected to begin on the School of Data Science soon.
- Advancement – The Board heard exciting updates on existing fundraising efforts and new initiatives. The Bicentennial Scholars Fund has reached $564 million. VP Robyn Hadley and Vice Provost for Enrollment Steve Farmer discussed the Cavalier Opportunity Fund, which is an initiative to provide funds for students to engage in extracurricular activities and events falling outside the existing purview of financial aid.
- Full Board – President Ryan and the Board discussed President Ryan’s 2030 plan, specifically focusing on what ought to be prioritized in the next three to five years. An emphasis was placed on grappling with the effects of the pandemic, thinking about the second-year experience, and building community amongst the university community. I provided an overview of my term and the topics I had brought to the Board, including mental health, advising, major caps and course enrollment, the role of a university in creating discourse amongst students, second-year housing, and student self-governance, among other topics.
Finally, the Board appointed a new Student Member for the next year: Lily Roberts, a third-year in the School of Architecture. Her term begins June 1st. I am confident Lily will serve as an excellent representative; she is a thoughtful and effective student leader who will do a terrific job on the Board.
As this year flies by, it is hard to see past the challenges we have faced and are still facing, but I think it is important to reflect upon the progress and achievements we have made. Thanks to the resilience and commitment of students, leadership, and incredible health-care workers, we have seen a successful and safe return to an in-person experience. The University has welcomed new leadership from Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Robyn Hadley to Provost Ian Baucom. The Center for Politics “Common Grounds” film was a great testament to the power of challenging conversations and our ability to see past differences. Significant progress has been made on the front of undergraduate advising, and new resources such as TimelyMD and the new Student Health and Wellness building are important strides forward in regard to mental health. There certainly is much work still to be done – progress is a never-ending thing – but I remain deeply optimistic. The joy is in the journey.
I am so grateful to the many students who reached out with input or feedback over this year, and to the many student leaders and organizations I visited and talked with during my term. I hope that I have been helpful to anyone who asked for assistance this past year. This role has always depended on student input, and I encourage you to continue to offer your thoughts to my successor going forward.
It is a privilege to serve in any leadership role, and I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have this opportunity to contribute, in a small way, to the progress of our community. As a graduating fourth-year, I am continually astounded by the incredible students who make this university so much more than a collection of buildings (and construction sites). Thank you all for your support, and if I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Student Member of the Board of Visitors | 2021-2022
About the Board of Visitors
The Board of Visitors is composed of 17 voting members appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, for terms of four years. In addition, the Board of Visitors appoints, for a one-year term, a full-time student and faculty member at the University of Virginia as non-voting members of the Board of Visitors. The Rector and Visitors serve as the corporate board for the University of Virginia, and are responsible for the long-term planning of the University. The Board approves the policies and budget for the University, and is entrusted with the preservation of the University's many traditions, including the Honor System. The Board maintains offices in the Northwest Wing of the Rotunda and meets four times per year. Meetings are open to the public.
Comments, questions, or concerns?
Contact Sarita Mehta, the 2021-2022 Student Member of the Board of Visitors at firstname.lastname@example.org