A Bright Line between Research and Academic Funding at UVa?

Gerald Warburg, professor of public policy at U.Va.’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Gerald Warburg, professor of public policy at U.Va.’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

by James A. Bacon

Gerald Warburg, a professor of public policy at the University of Virginia, provides important context for the university’s controversial, $2.2 billion Strategic Investment Fund. In an op-ed published a week ago in the Virginian-Pilot, he describes the fund as a tool to boost the university’s research mission without relying upon state funds or tuition dollars. The fund should serve as a national model for public universities, he says. He writes:

A decade ago, cuts from Richmond made clear legislators’ conclusion we could no longer afford to bear the financial cost of maintaining world class, state-subsidized research universities.

During the subsequent recession and recovery, U.Va. administrators struggled to reinvent a model public research university. …

Today in Virginia, the funding responsibilities are clear. Tuition, endowment and modest state support will fund access to education and training. The university and external sponsors of academic research are responsible for funding research. No other university in America has addressed this challenge as successfully as the University of Virginia.

Read the whole thing. It’s the most coherent justification I’ve yet seen for the Strategic Investment Fund.

Bacon’s bottom line: If I understand him correctly, Warburg is saying that UVa is drawing a bright line between its academic mission and its research mission, and that the academic mission is funded by tuition and state support, while the research mission is (or will be) funded by the Strategic Investment Fund and external sponsors. Politically, this is an astute way to frame the issue because it alleviates fears that students and parents are helping pay for UVa’s research ambitions.

Creating that bright line is a worthwhile goal, if it can be achieved. I laud Warburg for articulating it. Research universities really do cobble together two distinct missions — academics and research — each of which really should have their own dedicated sources of funding. Students should not be asked to subsidize corporate and federally funded research.

But I have two questions: (1) Are the academic and research functions so intertwined and the funding so inter-mingled that it is even possible to separate research from academics, and (2) where did the money come from to seed the Strategic Investment Fund in the first place?

UVa has not even tried to answer the first question (in fairness, no one has yet asked it), and it has yet to give a clear and comprehensive explanation of the second. University officials have said that some of the funding came from university reserves and some from squirreling away savings from “efficiencies.” One might speculate that other funds have come from budgeted monies unspent at the end of the fiscal year, or budgeted monies not spent on construction projects, or monies accumulated from hospital operations in the same way that the Inova and Carilion health systems have used surplus revenues (what normal people would call profits) to fund their own research initiatives. One could make the argument that any of these sources, known and speculated, were extracted from students or patients and, from an ethical perspective, should be used to reduce tuition and hospital charges.

Hopefully, we’ll be learning the details Aug. 26 when the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Education hold hearings on the Strategic Investment Fund.

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54 responses to “A Bright Line between Research and Academic Funding at UVa?

  1. Now we are getting into the meat of things. When I read this opinion piece the first time a few days ago, I thought, Oh, my God, a UVA official, a professor tasked to act as a UVA PR spin doctor has wildly gone off the reservation. The man is literally telling us the truth! Amazing.

    This opens up for us a Pandora’s box. Where to start. For one, go and look at the statements of all the rests of UVA’s spin doctors, misleaders, and untruth tellers. They and their phony baloney are much easier to see now the a single person in their camp has gone off reservation by TELLING THE TRUTH.

    • Dateline August 19, 2016 The Daily Progress

      UVA kicks of Opening Weekend

      “Friday marked the beginning of move-in weekend at the University of Virginia, … The $2.3 billion Strategic Investment Fund came up Friday during a question and answer session with university administrators. Sullivan fielded the question — from an anonymous audience member — along with Patrick D. Hogan, UVa executive vice president and chief operating officer. The fund has been in the spotlight as state legislators ask why UVa’s Board of Visitors raised tuition while the university had reserves in excess of $2 billion.

      Sullivan said it was the decision of the board, which wanted to take the reserves and invest them in the hopes of bringing a return that could be used for future improvements.

      “The university is required to have reserves, for various reasons,” Sullivan said. “If we had a bad storm this year, and the roof blew off your child’s residence hall, you’d expect us to be able to replace it.”

      She continued: “What our board realized is that these reserves could themselves be invested. And proceeds from these investments could be spent.”

      The fund is expected to pay out approximately $100 million annually. Hogan said that payout will allow the university to make big investments in facilities and hiring without passing on too much additional cost to families. …

      See:dailyprogress.com/news/local/uva-kicks-off-opening-weekend/article

    • Dateline August 15, 2016 CBS 19 newsplex.com

      “EXCLUSIVE: Teresa Sullivan talks about new school year at UVA

      … But a new academic year means new challenges for Sullivan.

      One such challenge, the controversial Strategic Investment Fund with $2.2 bil. price tag.

      “Instead of taking the reserves that you’re required to keep for legal and prudent business reasons, you don’t keep that metaphorically in a desk drawer. You invest it,” Sullivan said about the fund.

      According to Sullivan, the money from the fund will be used to make improvements to the University in small three-year endowments.

      Another challenge facing UVA in the new year is alcohol abuse …

      newsplex.com/content/news/EXCLUSIVE-Teresa-Sullivan-talks-about-new-school-year-at-UVA

    • Dateline July 21, 2016 CBS 19

      “Officials for the University of Virginia are defending a $2 billion fund they say is meant to improve the university and keep tuition low …

      Several Virginia lawmakers are also questioning when UVA started putting money into the fund, saying maybe the school started doing so before the fund was officially created.

      However, UVA officials say they discussed creating the fund during public meetings as far back as 2014.

      They say the money came from investment returns, not tuition, and it will be used to hire more professors and make technology improvements on Grounds.”

      See: newsplex.com/content/news/UVA-defends-investment-fund

    • From UVA Board of Visitors to General Assembly

      “RESPONSE TO LEGISLATIVE INQUIRIES REGARDING
      STRATEGIC INVESTMENT FUND
      August 1, 2016

      What is the Strategic Investment Fund?

      The Strategic Investment Fund (the “Fund”) was created in February 2016 to fund future strategic investments that further the highest levels of excellence in the University’s academic, research, and healthcare missions, while advancing the University’s commitment to make world-class educational opportunities more accessible and more affordable.

      Each year, the University receives appropriations from the
      General Assembly that contribute to the University’s operating budget and capital construction projects. The University’s continued operations rely upon those appropriations, supplemented substantially by other income sources such as tuition, research grants, patient revenue,philanthropy, and endowment income.

      The Fund exists for a different purpose and will not be used for normal ongoing operating costs. Rather, the Fund leverages both the State autonomy provided to the University and proven solid asset management to advance and sustain the University’s strategic position as a pre-eminent public higher education institution. Proceeds from The Fund will advance excellence and enhance the educational experience without passing along the costs of these investments in the form of tuition increases …”

      See virginia.edu/bov/meetings/’16 RETREAT/SIF – Response Narrative.pdf

    • Dateline August 1, 2016 UVATODAY

      “A Compelling Case for UVA’s Strategic Investment Fund

      The University of Virginia’s Strategic Investment Fund is anything but a so-called “slush fund,” … Virginians deserve better than an oversimplification on issues as important as quality and affordability of higher education.

      In truth, this fund is as an extraordinary opportunity to improve academic quality, help minimize tuition costs and student debt, conduct research that benefits society, and offer world-class medical care.

      Those kinds of returns don’t come from slush funds. They are the very outcomes that a community, a commonwealth and the world gain from a thriving research institution of public higher education. They benefit students today and, I strongly believe, for many years to come.

      These returns don’t happen overnight, and they don’t reflect the aspirations of those with narrow and sometimes negative agendas. In fact, making decisions in the best interests of future generations is a hallmark of how UVA has been historically managed. This is the spirit behind the Strategic Investment Fund.

      So how did we get to a place where the University felt confident enough to pool resources for such a fund? I can tell you it was not through hiding balances on the books or by having administrators who operated independently of our governing board. The Board of Visitors may have authorized this fund in February, but it was possible only because of sound stewardship at UVA for more than 25 years.

      For decades, UVA has had the rare fortune of generations of loyal and generous alumni and friends. It has also partnered with the state and federal governments to fund operations, research and capital projects. It has established and grown mandated reserves to ensure its AAA-bond rating and to persevere through difficult economies and fluctuating state support, and has the remarkable good fortune of earning significant returns on its investments.

      Since its founding, UVA has given back, producing citizen leaders who contribute as elected representatives, scientists, doctors, engineers, educators and much more. The fruits of our research have helped us better understand the human immune system, pursue cures for debilitating conditions and improve our academic offerings, to cite only a few. Our Health System experiences nearly a million patient visits a year, and our safety-net hospital serves all comers.

      All of these require significant, sustained investment.

      I have been fortunate to serve at a time when the Board of Visitors, President Terry Sullivan, her administration and the faculty have worked closely with a particular emphasis on the financial management of the University. We have approved and are implementing a new strategic plan. We have formalized our efforts to find efficiencies and cost-savings. We constructed and put into place a multiyear financial plan that addresses the University’s priorities across years instead of starting from scratch every budget cycle.

      We have approved and implemented a program, Affordable Excellence, to ensure that tuition increases, when necessary, are predictable and minimal, while dramatically reducing the amount of student debt facing Virginia families. Middle class Virginia families directly benefit from this relief as do those with high financial need.

      These efforts help Virginians; they provide more value to an education and they put our students in better positions to contribute to the Commonwealth and beyond.

      All of this, by the way, has occurred in the bright light of day, during meetings open to the public.

      As an example of UVA’s substantial commitment to affordability and access, the University projects it will award approximately $60 million in tuition grants that don’t need to be repaid in the coming academic year to undergraduate students, over two-thirds of whom are Virginians.

      How do we compare with others? Money magazine determined that UVA has the lowest average yearly cost of attendance of any institution ranked in its Top 100. That bears repeating. Of the absolute best public and private universities in America, the most affordable is the University of Virginia.

      Today, this combination of fiscal stewardship and resource management has placed the University of Virginia in a truly extraordinary position to make investments that will benefit generations of students and Virginians in the widest variety of ways and for the longest period of time.

      Using a Board-approved endowment payout formula, the Strategic Investment Fund could allocate as much as $100 million annually for initiatives with the highest promise to significantly improve the University and enhance quality and access for students.

      The possibilities are endless. They might include specialized equipment or research labs, recruitment of the finest faculty talent, or initiatives that enhance student life. They could include seed money for endowed student scholarships; support programs to further improve access and affordability for Virginians, and more.

      This is no blank check. Investments will be for limited periods. They’ll be tracked and evaluated.

      And to dispel another catchy but inaccurate phrase used by a former Board colleague, these investments won’t be administrative or Board “pet projects.” Such a characterization conveniently ignores a rigorous, multi-stage process that accepts proposals from across the University community and subjects them to a faculty committee review, an assessment by a leadership committee, and final approval by the Board.

      Pet projects don’t survive that level of scrutiny.

      The investments will align with the strategic plan and will be consistent with our long-term financial plan and Affordable Excellence initiative.

      I doubt many people would argue with the overall goals and potential benefits of this strategy. But there always will be healthy debate about the best use of resources – especially when there are so many worthy places in which to invest.

      Virginians who are striving to put their children through college have a fair question of why these funds aren’t being used in the moment to provide additional tuition assistance.

      Just as Virginia families know a college education is a worthy investment, we see the Strategic Investment Fund as a worthy use of resources – one that will only add value to a student’s decision to attend UVA and for generations who follow by giving UVA a sustainable way to invest in its quality without using tuition or tax dollars to do so.

      To the extent that investments from this fund allow the University to address long-term excellence without using tuition, the net effect will be greater affordability and value – not for a year or two, but well into the future.

      Don’t let critics with personal agendas distract from or minimize what, at UVA’s foundation, is a compelling story for anyone who knows the true long-term value of healthy and thriving public universities that exist to serve our society.

      William H. Goodwin Jr., of Richmond, is Rector of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors.

      SEE: news.virginia.edu/content/compelling-case-uvas-strategic-investment-fund

    • Financing Academic Excellence
      FY 14- FY17 University of Virginia
      date March 4, 2013

      To the Readers of This Report
      The assumptions in this four-year financial plan—including increases in tuition, tuition differential, and changes in endowment management—are subject to discussion and review by the Board of Visitors no later than its May meeting. This draft should be considered in this context. This report will be finalized and an executive summary written after that meeting.

      THE Following is found at VERY END OF Text of REPORT (Pg. 9-100)

      Strategic Investment Fund

      PAGE 99-100 of Report

      The University will establish the Strategic Investment Fund effective July 1, 2013, to support the University’s strategic plan, scheduled for completion in fall 2013. Drawing on the fund, the University will be able to immediately build momentum for parts of the plan as soon as they are finalized. In addition, the fund will give the University the flexibility to seize opportunities as they emerge to advance its academic mission. This is especially important during this critical period in the University’s history.

      Governed by the President and the Provost, the Strategic Investment Fund will be used to support the following areas of emphasis:

      – Selective hiring of key faculty
      – Start-up of new programs in high-potential areas
      – Collaborative projects that maximize existing synergies
      – Sponsored program and research opportunities
      – Streamlining and efficiency initiatives
      – Investments in the 21st-century curriculum
      – The seeding of innovative, paradigm-changing ideas
      – Development of pedagogical knowledge, methods, and processes

      Fund commitments could be in the form of grants or loans with repayment provisions. As appropriate, the University will track return on investment on fund investments and loans.

      The fund’s advisory council, including the Chief Operating Officer, faculty members, and other stakeholders, will advise the President and the Provost on the use of monies in the fund. The University will prepare an annual report that will provide transparency on fund sources and uses and document the outcome of fund commitments.

      The Strategic Investment Fund is one element in a comprehensive University strategy to move forward from a position of strength as higher education undergoes its most profound change in half a century. Its purpose is not simply to help sustain the University during the next decade but to strengthen its distinctive qualities as it enters its third century.

      See: virginia.edu/bov/meetings/13Apr/FOIA DRAFT2_3-4-13_spreads.pdf

    • This is in response to Acbar comment below dated August 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm —

      Ah Ha Acbar – I read all you write so one place is good as another.

      While it is true that I saw some of what was happening early, I saw only one part of a very complex puzzle. This is a puzzle of many parts, with many ramifications, risks, stages and acts, and consequences, seen and unforeseen.

      And I do not believe that the actors in this unfolding play have been anywhere near as transparent and as forthright as good ethics, the substance of the issues, and good governance demands. I believe they have kept their cards far too close to the vest, and I believe it by reason of the many words and arguments that they deploy that cloud and mislead, rather that forthrightly state what this is about. This is not about a private deal between two citizens, or some operational issue of vague or peddling public interest. Its about holding in trust a precious public asset – and that is why now they confront the controversy at hand. And quite possibly now that controversy is uncovering a host of additional questions and concerns.

      This thing is full of complexity that work and combine of many levels. For one of many examples, I doubt this is a matter for the Board of Visitors to decide at all. Nor the Governor. The GA and Courts likely.

    • As to the question of who must step in and solve this particular issue, one whose resolution can forever alter the nature and mission of UVA, we must be mindful of the inherent and systemic difficulties most all boards of directors (whether they be public or private) encounter in their efforts to fulfill their fiduciary duties to the variant interests of their stakeholders.

      Unfortunately, in far too many cases, board member think and feel that their presence “on the Board” is more important than going against the grain of the prevailing ways that “the business of the Board” has been carried on by those who selected them and who “control the place.” Unfortunately too the business of those who selected those new board member can from the very start, or far too easily over time, include the pursuit of the personal agendas of those who control the place. Such Board business then is typically out of alignment with the needs and mission of the institution. Or in All CASES such board business will over time fall out of alignment, becoming out dated and obsolete, and or solipsistic and self serving, and/or corrupt and ill-suited to the institution, and the times, if this has not been the case from the start. Here is when and where independent boards serve their most valuable and irreplaceable rolls. Indeed their primary roll and mission as a Board. And here is where and when most boards fail by reason to human nature, particularly as manifest by group behavior of humans.

      In all such cases, real change is always very tough, if only because it threatens the current leaders in the institution, and their ability to remain in control. And typically the past success of entrenched leaders makes change ever that much harder. Few leaders raise to the Challenge. So these board failings, and the failing of those who should report to them but rarely do, are nothing new. Indeed such failures are common as mud. We have discussed this and related board and group dynamics at length on other posts within this website.

      But one essential and critical key to an effective board in times of stress and change is the Built-In and Character Driven Absolute Independence of its individual Board members. These people are not extremely hard to find. Quite the reverse, they are in plain sight. But far too often institutions, public and private, do not go out and find such independent people who have been there and done that, because those who control the institution do not want to be challenged by such people who by definition threaten their absolute control. This is especially true when entrenched leaders have strong ideological views about their ongoing agendas, and where politics and hidden agendas play a roll in the selection of new Board members.

      In such cases, then –

      Instead of bringing aboard strong and independent leaders of deep and wide ranging accomplishment, they select one board leader who is certain to share and push hard on the other board members to implement their views and to help make that task far easier the “entrenched leaders” bring aboard younger board members who really think they “need to be board members”, people who are legitimately on the make, and so are understandable far more inclined to go along so as to rise up the next ladder or job, and so they do not challenge the board business agenda because it is not in their professional self interest to do so. Indeed professional suicide will be their fate should they do so, as it would destroy their professional network, the very ladder they have built for the past and future success.

      Hence, in all such case, true independence on that board has been lost. And thereafter it can be only reclaimed by those later appointed as board members “who Need not to be Board members” if only because “they are not on the make” and have already made their everlasting mark, and so are not temped to use their Board position to advance their own professional career, their social standing, or place in the pecking order of society, and their own future job prospects, and hence will do nothing to threaten their success.

      Frankly the “weakness and failure of such people to be a strong board members is completely under understandable. Very few people of any kind or sort will take any risk that threatens their ambitions. This is in the very nature of human affairs. So these junior people go along. And often times the institution loses.

      Public Institutions of higher Learning in these times of change need board members of total independence, people who are unafraid to powerfully express their independent views, based on their own long experience and accomplishment. Teaching kids right is not rocket science. It is the wisdom, a long record for getting things done, and character that controls rocket science and unbridled ambition of others, keeps it and them in their proper place, to insure that the kids get the kind of education they deserve and need for their future at a cost they can afford.

      Here in the case of UVA we are talking about the best interests of Virginia students, Virginia residents, Virginia taxpayers and the Commonwealth generally. As of right now, that is primary UVA’s job. Until that mission as a state institution of higher learning in Virginia changes after full, complete and transparent due process by appropriate state authority, that is also the most critical and important job of UVA’s Board of Visitors.

      Here is a list along with a detailed biography of each of those Board members who where Appointed to the Board this summer.

      https://news.virginia.edu/content/gov-mcauliffe-announces-uva-board-visitors-appointments

    • The question for the moment is how best to proceed.

      This scandal at UVA is so complex, so chock full of so many facets, and the space and time to dig deep into the muck to explore all the nooks and crannies, issues and consequences, large and small, is so short, that I will write here in this place a series on NOTES To The FILE. These Note will be reminders of issues to come back to, and elaborate on more fully, when time and circumstance allows. And so to build upon when time and unfolding events within this scandal rise to the surface to add clarity, background, and perspective to the whole scandal.

      This means a series of posts here under this thread, all related by subject matter, the latest ongoing scandal at UVA. So, while the banner article above may disappear from the top radar screen of this website, these notes will be refreshed here from time to time as to remain a record.

      This morning I checked my inbox to find my daily UVA Today Daily Report. Its headline story blared on and on about how cheap and valuable a UVA education was. But for how long? And for how many? And at what cost to whom? UVA Today didn’t really say anything about that, not really.

      Yesterday morning I woke early to find my UVA Today Daily Report for yesterday. It showed a photo of UVA students attending their very FIRST CLASS in their brand new classroom in the $50 Million renovation of the Rotunda. But for how long? And for how many? And at what cost to whom?

      And are those smiling happy students served cuisine by the new high speed elevator from the Rotunda’s brand new underground cuisine food preparation center? Or is that by invitation only? Just for high profile guests coming in through the underground security tunnel just built for high profile guests? Were those brand new facilities in Mr. Jefferson’s plans? Are today’s happy students high profile guests? Surely they should be. Should not everyone in Virginia be such guests? Are not they all paying for all of this?

      Is not UVA Today now a propaganda machine? Who’s paying for it?

      Recall the six news stories, press releases, Op-Eds, or UVA reports that are listed immediately below the first comment to Jim Bacon’s Article. Are they too a product of this UVA machine?

    • “Recall the six news stories, press releases, Op-Eds, or UVA reports below 1st comment to above Article. Are they also a product of this UVA machine?”

      This question reminds me of the near death of Philology. This study of words, in all their roots, contexts, aspects and meanings is barely hanging on. Until very recently Philology was the primary spindle around which the world turned, whether it was academic, or practical, like say the world of James Madison and John Marshall. Or it was the great classic thinkers who lived deep in the study of words, their uses, their meanings, and their context, in our human quest to find the truth and practical knowledge, both secular and theological, or some workable combination thereof. Think here about St. Augustine and Aquinas, or about Cicero and Madison, their study of the classic Greeks as they came down thought history in the great libraries beginning at Alexandria, Egypt. But now from all of that bequest what is left grows fewer and farther apart, held together barely by men like Robert Alter, see his Pen of Iron.

      The great age of Philology, its overwhelming dominance, died abruptly, or now nearly so, with the revolutionary work of men like Galileo, Kepler, and Descartes and their progeny such as Newton and his classical mechanics. Here numbers and their application in the invisible world of mathematics rose like a phoenix to create and dominate whole new ways of thinking about how the world works and our place within it by deploying whole arrays of new disciplines like Statistics and quantum mechanics.

      These were monumental achievements driving much of our modern world.

      The problem is that the rise of great new achievements and ways to do things, far too often debilitates, if not destroys, the wisdom, knowledge, and know how that human civilizations that have theretofore collected, refined, and proven to be of timeless value over millennia of human experience.

      Hence today we live in a depleted world. One where we have lost our ability to understand, appreciate, learn from, and deploy in our search for meaning and truth, the very medium that binds us together, the world of words. As a result we are now far too often literally stumbling around blind. Totally ignorance of what is really happening to us and around us.

      So, for example, UVA’s President Sullivan with great pride tells us that her $50 million Dollar restoration of the Rotunda is great and noble project thanks to “countless planners and managers …”

      These four simple words tell us volumes about our UVA president and her agenda and next to nothing about how best to renovate the Rotunda as a historic structure, and what are the consequences of doing it the wrong way. How it impacts us and our world. Instead few and if any of us notice those four words, their meaning and message, or raise the subject if by chance they do notice. When we live in a blizzard we see nothing.

      This is what the six six news stories, press releases, Op-Eds, or UVA reports are all about. They tell us that words have lost their meaning, and or our ability to understand words and their import and act on them is mostly gone.

    • Recall our comment immediately above:

      “When we live in a blizzard we see nothing.”

      The idea here is that when “words mean nothing or nothing honest,” we lose our ability to use those faux words as reliable tools by which we can learn and understand. We waste our time, or harm ourselves, reading such words.

      The corollary here is that typically in such circumstances, the volume of words that are coming at us grows immensely, reaching finally the proportions of a blizzard whose purpose is to blind is rather than enlighten us.

      Why this blizzard?

      Word blizzards come at us because its creator is determined to hide the truth of its intentions from us so as to neutralize us, lower our defenses, or actively convince us to act in a way against our interests. Or at the very least the creator of word blizzards is trying to get us to act on a matter without the full knowledge of the facts that we need to reach an informed decision.

      Often times too to the broadcaster of blizzards of misleading or meaningless words intends to use those words not only to clear the way for its covert action but also to set up the broadcaster’s future defenses to those covert acts then underway. So often here they use words as “Double Agents.” These words within the blizzard purport to disclose the truth and bind the speaker to us, and thus gain our acquiescence, or inattention, while in fact these faux words hide the truth while they erect the false claim of full disclosure. Thus the broadcaster of such words hope they will work to free the speaker of any obligation to us to perform or any liability for their failure to do so.

      In this latter example of word blizzards the broadcaster might create and publish studies, reports, and analysis without attribution. Such documents tend to puff themselves up into something they are not. Hence they might be issued on fancy official stationary of the broadcaster or with glossy logos and official photos, charts and graphs filling spaces between text delivered and promises made without attribution by any officials within the organization. So despite the high flown rhetoric, NOBODY signs on the dotted lines. And NOBOBY stands behind anything. Everything is sales tripe instead. Not worth the paper it is written on.

      Many different elaborations are used to propel these strategics. Such tactics often include:

      The broadcaster labels or stamp the document or paper as a “Working Draft” that is attributed to an unidentified “Task Force on Such and Such”. Such papers and the words within them then tend to ever grander and more sweeping statements as the blizzard within the document grows. Such growing grandiosity of high purpose is typically in direct proportion to the lack of substance, import, and meaning of the words, and their own irrelevance to the reality of the matter they falsely purport to deal with. To the highly alert and personally informed reader, such garbage becomes quickly self evident. Unfortunately it far too often disarms and renders foolish or inattentive most everyone else, whether they be fools or folks who think they have better things to do, and can’t be bothered in any event.

      These bad habits are growing at an alarming rate among our public institutions, particularly when they are engaged in spending vast sums of other peoples money (usually our own), or otherwise acting against our real interests. And now they are infecting ever larger segments of our population, such a major private corporations and professions that are critical to our health, wealth, welfare, and success – lawyers for example.

      Contrast these circumstances to what went on as recently as a decade or two ago when our world, and our society, was in a far healthier place. When, for example, private institutions or individuals borrowed large (or small) sums of money from a private bank. Here the obligations and liabilities were written down in plain, detailed, straightforward and often harsh language. People argued their case their walked away or agreed to a real deal. Like where the money came from, where the money went, and what happened in between the signature parties any and all events that anyone could imagine based on their long and hard earned experience. Then Every i Was
      dotted. Every T Was Crossed. Everybody signed on the dotted line.

      Why?

      Because every body understood the real risks and had accepted them, and so had girdled their loins to withstand those risk, while grimly determined to fulfill their obligations and thus legitimately gain the fruits of the deal.

      This is how the real world of serious things work, how they always have worked, and how they always will work. Reality never goes on holiday. But in the world of real history far too often reality goes on holiday in the minds of leaders and their citizens. But in such cases reality changes. All circus tents sooner or later collapse, often to the surprise of most everyone, despite and indeed because of the blizzard outside and within their heads.

      Next we will bring this down to current reality as it relates to UVA.

    • Does UVA’s conduct in its latest scandal illustrate what is happening throughout American society today? I think so.

      Indeed Professor Warburg claims in the subject op-ed that UVA has “reinvented a model public research university.”

      And he did so after one of UVA’s senior administrators expressed to the General Assembly UVA’s regret that it was unable to tell the General Assembly about its great nation shaking achievement before Helen Dragas blew UVA’s cover. Thus it appears probable that UVA’s grand achievement was to be presented to the General Assembly as a fait Accompli.

      But, despite all that, what for me what was earth shaking at the time was Professor Warburg’s blowing UVA’s cover a week later. This is when he wrote the apparent the truth in his op-ed relabeling the strategic investment Fund to what he called “the Strategic RESEARCH investment Fund.”

      “The Strategic RESEARCH investment Fund.” Never had that term been used before, or least I have never seen it used before. And I have been looking at all I can find.

      Unfortunately for UVAs leaders, here is how they have labelled and described that fund by and large, but with many variations, since it was first unveiled officially in March of 2013:

      STRATEGIC INVESTMENT FUND

      “The University will establish the Strategic Investment Fund effective July 1, 2013, to support the University’s strategic plan, scheduled for completion in fall 2013 … Governed by the President and the Provost, the Strategic Investment Fund will be used to support the following areas of emphasis:

      – Selective hiring of key faculty
      – Start-up of new programs in high-potential areas
      – Collaborative projects that maximize existing synergies
      – Sponsored program and research opportunities
      – Streamlining and efficiency initiatives
      – Investments in the 21st-century curriculum
      – The seeding of innovative, paradigm-changing ideas
      – Development of pedagogical knowledge, methods, and processes

      Fund commitments could be in the form of grants or loans with repayment provisions … UVA will track return on investment on fund investments and loans. The fund’s advisory council, including the Chief Operating Officer, faculty members, and other stakeholders, will advise the President and the Provost on the use of monies in the fund. (UVA) will prepare an annual report that will provide transparency on fund sources and uses and document the outcome of fund commitments.”

      Professor Warburg’s differing truth thus has opened a Pandora’s Box. Here are the key elements of his earth shattering statement:

      “During the subsequent recession and recovery, U.Va. administrators struggled to reinvent a model public research university … A sustained fundraising campaign was able to secure investments from alums and supporters to augment the existing operating funds pool. The research side of the university’s academic house is now secure. U.Va. is now well-situated to self-fund its research opportunities, while at the same time working with the legislature to address the challenge of maintaining the affordability of its other essential mission, the training of tomorrow’s leaders …

      (So) Today in Virginia, the funding responsibilities are clear. Tuition, endowment and modest state support will fund access to education and training. The university and external sponsors of academic research are responsible for funding research. No other university in America has addressed this challenge as successfully as the University of Virginia …

      Rather than allowing research to wither, U.Va.’s administration and its BOV made a huge bet. They have wagered that for the commonwealth to prosper, a revolutionary new self-funded business model for research had to be imagined and deployed … By assembling what is now a best in the nation $2.2 billion strategic research investment fund, U.Va. …”

      The import of these simple straight forward words are huge.

      What they suggest is that the $2.3 Billion in UVA funds collected from “a sustained fundraising campaign” that raised money from alums and supporters have now suddenly (within this year) been combined with existing operating funds pool and shifted into what in practical affect is a lock box whose invested profits will be devoted exclusively now for the first time to the building of a revolutionary new form of game changing research driven university. One that is suddenly self funded and controlled exclusively by UVA. And one that “offers researchers and scholars a state-of-the art platform from which to change the world”.

      Meanwhile the State of Virginia, and its students and and its taxpayers are left holding the bag: namely with the job of picking up the tab for and the cost of educating and training UVA’s students, a job that heretofore has always be the primary and overriding mission of the University of Virginia.

      Next I will explain why, in addition to its plain words, that is my opinion as a reliable reading of the Professor op-ed, given what has been going on here with this Strategic Fund according to the published record. I will also discuss the other possible variations on that general theme, and other interpretations thereof, again based on those records.

      • PS –

        I will also explain why I believe this building of a revolutionary new form of game changing research driven university is an extremely risky venture that will surely put huge sums of public monies at great risk. And particularly so given the character, assets, capabilities, size, location and unusual nature of the University now and in the foreseeable future.

        And that this revolutionary venture under current management and in current form will in turn threaten UVA’s ability to carry out its traditional mission of educating and training its students, and related activities.

    • Below is the transcript of Helen Dragas’s testimony at today’s General Assembly hearing in Richmond on UVA’s Strategic Investment Fund.

      See:

      http://hac.virginia.gov/subcommittee/higher_education/files/8-26-16/Helen%20Dragas%20Reemarks%208-26-16.pdf

      Her testimony on events regarding the Fund in and around year 2013, fits with what I found published on UVA’s behalf at that time by UVA administrators. This will be the subject of my next post, along with other related matters discussed above.

  2. why should endowments fund tuition unless it is the specific intent of the donor?

    I would think all unrestricted endowment would be totally up to the discretion of the University – as well as no operating funds, no operating fund “reserves” and no “efficiencies” derived from original operating monies be used for anything except operating not strategic.

    infrastructure , buildings facilities might be an area of discussion unless there is going to be a bright line between research and academic for the entire facility – and maybe it ought to be such a line.

    but we still have not addressed the issue of the state restricting monies for specific purposes and requiring separate fund accounting for those monies – rather than handing over the money without restricting then whining about how it was spent.

    this is not a difficult issue on that level – if people are truly serious about it. In fact MOST funding from the Feds works explicitly that way as well as a lot of state funding… why , in this one case – we cling to some idea that if the money is unrestricted that it will be spent like we want it to … well heckfire… I just don’t understand that kind of thinking at all.. If you want the money restricted – then restrict it and shut down the kabuki theatre.

  3. What’s lost in discussion of this issue is the question of what the prime mission of a college/university is or should be.

    How foolish of me not to realize now it’s really to gain prestige through research rather than education of the citizenry.

    Thankfully, some of us were fortunate to make it out with a real education back in the day. OABTW, I do restrict my giving to academic scholarship.

    • I agree JohnB – but the way this oughta work is to let the College/University define what they think their mission is
      and let prospective students pick the ones that best meet their needs.

      and you’re on target in that this ought to be about ALL higher ed in Virginia not just UVA – and not just what those are only concerned with UVA think.

      this exercise ought not to be about rules for UVA ….

      and I think UVA has developed an intelligent approach to separating the academic mission from other ancillary missions.

      My main heartburn is if they were using state funds that were not intended for the other missions and if that’s true they need to be brought to heel on that but in terms of the approach in designating a strategic focus separate from academic -I think they are right and other schools may copy it.

      Finally -if UVA tuition cost is in line with other Universities of it’s calibre – they ARE going to attract their share of those looking for that kind of academic experience and why should we do anything to harm that … or subsidize it?

      College is too expensive across the board – not just at UVA. Going after UVA only on that issue seems missing the bigger point that perhaps Virginia should address but for those who say they hold Conservative philosophies – surely they should acknowledge that subsidizing is inherently a downhill endeavor that only gets worse and actually rewards waste and inefficiency .. encourages it…

      the more we subsidize – the LESS sensitive to costs the colleges will be… and the MORE they will continue to urge the state (taxpayers) to come up with more and more money … surely that’s not a Conservative ethic…

  4. Jim focuses on the difficulty — impossibility? — of unscrambling the eggs that are the modern university so as to draw a bright line between that which is funded by the State and that which is funded by private sources. “External sponsors” — hell! These are for-profit services to paying business clients, for research and a LOT MORE, with “research positions” and some uncertain fraction of those profits subsidizing the underfunded academic enterprise which educates our children.

    I don’t fault the University of Virginia for pursuing this model — what viable alternative is there? — but what a monstrous enterprise we have created! “How foolish of me not to realize now it’s really to gain prestige through research rather than education of the citizenry,” says JohnB. Well, yes, if you count the kind of prestige sought by businesses to attract paying clients, and, if your business is academe, paying students.

    As for separating that which is the State’s responsibility from the rest, why try? I’m all for UVA going private and foregoing the current charade.

    • Thank you for your honesty. I, too, am 100% in favor of privatizing U.Va. The hypocrites on here are astounding with their “privatize everything” but U.Va.

      • I’ve been arguing to privatize UVA for years. The only difference between my plan and everybody else’s plan is that I expect the newly private UVA to buy the land, buildings and goodwill of the University of Virginia from the Commonwealth of Virginia. I’d guess that a $15 – $20B check would square things. Hell, they have $7.5B in the endowment. That’s a start.

        The Commonwealth pf Virginia needs to take the money received from privitizing UVA and invest the money in ODU, VCU and GMU.

        Build up public universities in the state’s urban areas.

  5. I only see good things from Virginia universities partnering with start-up business enterprises.. it’s an elemental symbiotic relationship that provides students with even more value to their degrees.

    and I don’t see why it has to be an either/or proposition.

    gawd o’mighty – we’re gonna kill the golden goose with our single-minded insistence that cheap degrees trumps everything else.

    you – WE -want Virginia higher ed to be powerful enterprises of education AND commerce!

    when we make it only about the cost of a degree – we’ve gotten stupid about the bigger meaning of “higher education”.

    When you look around Virginia and ask – what else can we do besides hope the Feds continue to provide DOD jobs – what else is there? We should recognize the potential of institutions like UVA to become powerful incubators of … jobs…

    Get out of their way and let them succeed!!!!

  6. Good article Peter!

    But I just cannot buy into the “they are going to privatize if we don’t give them more money” idea.. which I would think Conservatives would find abhorrent and smacking of the recipient of the tax dollars dictating the terms of the subsidy.

    And we are not dealing with the issue of affordability for all kids in Va – we are focusing on one school and primarily the middle class – make no bones about it.. that’s probably NOT what TJ had in mind for a true “public” University to serve all Virginians.

    I still think – you help the kids directly with taxpayer dollars and let the kids choose what institution best suits their needs -everyone gets the same voucher – and it’s enough for a paid-in-full barebones degree at one or more cooperating colleges but if you want more – then you come up with the additional money.

    we cannot be throwing more and more money for higher ed – at the institutions themselves.. unless we are willing to restrict that money to tuition only – not other things.

    if we are unwilling to deal with the actual issues and still try to cling to some obsolete idea of somehow Virginia colleges not charging what the typical tuition is – for most colleges across the country – and we must subsidize instead – that’s a failed strategy and again, I’m shocked that Conservatives would support that approach.

    We have to change the way we do higher ed.

    we cannot be subsidizing a small demographic subset while so many other kids won’t have access – as the trade and that’s what it is -we’d be choosing to subsidize a subset at the cost of not helping the bigger pool of kids that want to go but simple cannot afford what parents with 100K of income can.

    we’ve created – and we are presiding over a fundamental unequal system where apparently some people feel that sons and daughter of college educated parents are due more consideration than sons and daughters of non-college-educated parents ..

    … in the 21st century where college is just about mandatory if you want a decent paying jobs that will allow you to care for your family and not need entitlements.

    The more kids who don’t get at least 2yrs of college – the stark reality is – the more people we will have that won’t pay income taxes, and will need entitlements – including health care.

    we are a sinking ship if this is our approach to college these days and it’s NOT what our competitor nations are doing .. they KNOW that all of their kids need higher ed and we keep pretending it’s only for some.

  7. LarryG, no argument from me against providing 2 years of community college for all our kids at taxpayer expense. You can make the case easily for four years. But our “flagship universities,” even our regular four year schools, are something else. Look at the blessings we have around Virginia that are NOT part of our community college system: UVa (Charlottesville and Wise), W&M, VT, GMU, VCU, Virginia State, JMU, ODU, Mary Washington, Longwood, Radford, Norfolk State, Christopher Newport, and of course VMI. I think as long as the GA continues to afflict them with its minimalist vision and starve them of funds, it should have the decency to cut any of the above as free as they want to be to tap into corporate and government research and alumni funding to their hearts content.

    Certainly there are ways the State can continue to help these institutions while helping itself — by funding targeted research, and by backing these schools’ construction obligations with the State’s credit to lower their financing costs, for example. But the day of direct State underwriting of tuitions and general academic, along with the polititical strings attached that always seem to accompany those appropriations, are best left behind us.

  8. If a degree from UVA will get you a job quicker at a higher salary – doesn’t that make that degree much more valuable ? Isn’t that something for a prospective student (and parents) to consider?

    and the cost of it – that’s a responsibility like what kind of car or computer you can afford.. you have to decide what you can reasonably afford – it’s not up to others to cough up whatever you’d like .. at some point – you are the one who decides what you can afford or not and arguing that you want a BMW and that without govt assistance you cannot afford it.. well geeze… what’s happened to us?

    One of the lesser known paths for ALL kids is called work-study… which is a like an internship and it’s perfect for many kids to get a good idea of what an occupation is really like compared to courses-only. Another is called night school.. used to be preferably to ungodly debt.. dunno what’s happened to us… we prefer decades of debt to working our way through school?

    Work study/internships give valuable experience and helps understand the importance of non-taught “soft” people skills.. that are so necessary in today’s uber-collaborated work environments.

    It’s also helps them understand the essential connection between what they are learning and how you need to combine that with other skills to actually generate real work product.

    In other words- kids should not be taking summer off – the one’s that are serious about careers should be taking their sojourns in the form of work..with weekends off, even working in a pizza parlor or even as a clerk or plain ordinary grunt… or gopher. every minute you spend in a real business environment is immensely valuable compared to screwing around with games on your cell phone.

    I’d incentivize grants to kids – based on their pursuit of experience in the “off’ season… the ones that get those work study and internships would be rewarded.

    We have to stop the idea that we are “giving” something to kids and change it to what they “earn” for themselves … in their gradual transition from academic to occupation. This should be the norm… what we expect from them just as we expect them to get good grades.

    The ones that have themselves lined up to leave college and go to directly to work – should be the models we want more of them to emulate. If Mom and dad want to pamper them with Spring break and a summer of leisure…that’s fine – but on their dime.

    this whole continuum of blaming UVA for making college unaffordable is about as “leftist” excuse-making as one can imagine.

    • We agree on this: “If a degree from UVA will get you a job quicker at a higher salary – doesn’t that make that degree much more valuable ? . . . . and the cost of it – that’s a responsibility like what kind of car or computer you can afford.. you have to decide what you can reasonably afford.”

      Moreover, “more valuable” assumes there is something less valuable that will still get the job done. I can debate the relative worth, or lack of it, of a UVA versus a NovaCoCo education in terms of what job each will get you, but the important thing is for our kids to have that post-secondary education option available to them without the outrageous debt or the outrageous frills. In other words, the government should make available, at no charge the same as high school, a bare-bones primary education, providing those post-high-school years of education that are now practically required to enter many occupations.

      But if it does so, I see no reason why the government has any responsibility to subsidize, much less provide free, a University of Virginia resident undergraduate education. Do our children get to pick which high school they go to? No, but if their parents want them to go to a private secondary school and can afford it, they can often buy a better secondary school experience. Likewise, our private colleges offer an amazing experience for our young people. But is that experience, with all its bells and whistles, the responsibility of government? That is the question I am raising.

      And if it is not the government’s responsibility, then there’s a follow-on question: should we have any State money involved in funding the UVAs of the Commonwealth, or should we cut them free and let them frankly privatize, and privatize their governance as well? [I’m not saying no government involvement; rather, it should be aimed towards helping students through loans and grants, and helping these universities through research and program grants, not through the funding of the basic academic mission.]

  9. Acbar and Larry,
    Thanks for the kudos but now that I think about it, I think there are TWO existential crisis at UVa.

    One is creeping privatization.
    The second is creeping Baconization — this compulsive, mindless view that free markets cure everything.

    • And you accuse ME of Baconization?

      But I will stand up for freeing any institution serving the public to make the most of its privatization potential IF denied the government support it ought to have. A free market “private school” approach to satisfying the need for public access to the highest-quality university education may well be a second-best model, but it’s better than not having high-quality universities. Not that there’s anything lacking in quality at our community colleges.

    • Peter,

      Interesting article. I disagree with you (I want U.Va. to privatize), but I respect your opinion.

      I thought you might find this interesting: “Chap” Petersen was a member of the House of Delegates from 2001-2005. He talks of being a U.Va. Law alum and being shocked at the increase in tuition.

      The University of Virginia’s School of Law (and the Darden School) effectively privatized in the 2003-04 academic year. The law school has complete operational autonomy and its only real connection to the University is to pay an annual charge for University-provided services and the President participates in selecting the dean. The law school does not receive a penny in state funding.

      This all occurred when Petersen was in the General Assembly! Talk about a know-nothing ass. He was in the legislature and didn’t even know that the school privatized. And now asks 13 years after the fact in a direct quote, “How did law school tuition rise so much?”

      And these clowns want to exert more influence over U.Va.? They don’t even know the basic facts about the institution.

  10. Here’s the first irony, Reed Fawell and I have done more than anyone else in the media to illuminate — and question — the creeping privatization at UVa and how it works.

    Here’s the second irony: I’ve never, ever suggested that free markets cure “everything.” Moreover, the whole concept of applying “free markets” to public higher education is a total non sequitur. You can’t cite a single instance of me saying anything like that. What your remark does do, Peter, however, is betray the analytical framework that you apply to the debate, which is essentially a compulsive, mindless defense of the higher ed status quo.

  11. “creeping privatization” in the UVA only context is totally bogus.

    if you walk to talk about that -you need to do it for all Virginia Colleges and for the impact it would have on all Virginia kids not just the ones whose parents make 100K in income who want to go to UVA.

    Acbar says “… make the most of its privatization potential IF denied the government support it ought to have.”

    that’s about as vague as one can get.. are you talking about all colleges in Virginia ?

    how much “support” should colleges in Virginia beyond just UVA – “get” – enough for any kid regardless of income to attend?

    Making this about UVA only is a disservice to every Virginian who pays taxes and every Virginians whose child wants to attend college.

    we are, in essence, advocating subsidies for people who are far better off than most in Virginia … by collecting taxes from folks who cannot afford to send their own kids to college, much less UVA.

    • Who’s making this debate “only” about UVa? Try clicking here and viewing all the other articles written about higher ed in Virginia, all of which are exploring the theme of access and affordability.

      • ” Here’s the first irony, Reed Fawell and I have done more than anyone else in the media to illuminate — and question — the creeping privatization at UVa and how it works.”

        Can you show me where you and Reed have addressed this beyond UVA?

        I’ve yet to see any proposals here to address affordability for higher ed in Virginia… much less something beyond advocating for something other than Conservative alternatives to tax dollars or govt edicts to do it.

        how about a Conservative approach to affordability to college -in Virginia or if you can’t do that – at least one that applies to all colleges…

    • Well, I addressed this to Larry’s earlier comment, but I’ll say it again: we SHOULD cut all those non-community-college “universities” in Virginia loose to transition to private status, without further direct government support of their undergraduate academic mission, PROVIDED that there is a government-funded community college option available to every high school.

      The important thing is that PROVIDED. Government does, in this country at least, have an obligation to provide an education to its citizens. And that obligation ought to extend through the college years today; it is not enough to finish high school, and grossly unfair to today’s high schoolers not to offer them more without the outrageous debts we attach to proceeding unassisted through college today.

      • Acbar – I agree with you but also think the bigger point being missed is that “PROVIDED” should be equitable also and that’s my problem with the focus on UVA and certain income demographics which are having the effect of directing more resources to higher income folks and less to lower income – who pile up more debt and will never earn enough to pay it off… the default rates for lower income are terrible..

        • My idea of an equitable solution is an expensive one, but TN has already gone there and I applaud it: free community college (meaning no free residence dorms or meals, but as free as high school to commuters).

          • I agree with that- but that does not sound as expensive as subsidizing tuition, rooms and food.

            That’s the way Germany does it. You get the tuition but the rest is your responsibility.

            so what we are doing is subsidizing the full boat – for some – at the expense of almost nothing for others – even those those commute to community college from home and eat at home.

            that’s not what the UVA folks want -they want the full boat at UVA to be “affordable and they are not addressing affordability for others including those that go to Community College. That’s why I ask them what they do want – for all kids – not just UVA kids…

  12. Acbar
    I would never accuse you of anything so foul.

  13. I have read the articles you’ve cited and posted this afternoon with great interest. They (particularly Rector Goodwin’s personal defense of the SIF) cumulatively say two things to me: (1) the SIF has been a long time coming, well thought through, and clearly articulated to the BOV; and (2) Helen Dragas must have wanted to disparage the SIF from the get-go, and when she ran out of time to do anything else about it, chose the crude mechanism of accusing the Rector of a FOIA violation to embarrass him and draw attention to her political cause.

    • The foregoing comment is addressed to ReedF, of course — for some reason my reply to his comments was posted here.

      • Ah Ha – I read all you write so one place is good as another.

        While it is true that I saw some of what was happening early, I saw only one part of a very complex puzzle. This is a puzzle of many parts, with many ramifications, risks, stages and acts, and consequences, seen and unforeseen.

        And I do not believe that the actors in this unfolding play have been anywhere near as transparent and as forthright as good ethics, the substance of the issues, and good governance demands. I believe they have kept their cards far too close to the vest, and I believe it by reason of the many words and arguments that they deploy that cloud and mislead, rather that forthrightly state what this is about. This is not about a private dealt between two citizens, or some operational issue of vague or peddling public interest. Its about holding in trust a precious public asset – and that thus now they confront the controversy at hand. And that that controversy is now uncovering a host of additional questions and concerns.

        This thing is full of complexity that work and combine of many levels. For one of many examples, I doubt this is a matter for the Board of Visitors to decide at all. Nor the Governor. The GA and Courts likely.

        • Edit to end or second to last paragraph

          “Its about holding in trust a precious public asset – and that is why now they confront the controversy at hand. And quite possibly now that controversy is uncovering a host of additional questions and concerns.”

  14. My reading of Jim’s blogging and comments lead me to believe that he has 1) to his credit, tried to bring attention to the issues at play in Virginia higher education in his blog and 2) is personally torn on the issue of privatization.

    On the first point, Jim has called attention to the decline in state funding, rapid tuition increases, particularly at UVA and W&M, creeping “privatization”, and the issues related to the Strategic Fund at UVA (which in and of itself are numerous).

    On the second point, where I believe he is torn, I have seen him comment that we should “Let UVA be UVA” and “Let William & Mary be William and Mary”, which suggests to me that he believes the institutions should have latitude to move toward quasi-private status if the alternative is a significant decline in their competitiveness and status. He has also commented that his family has benefitted from public higher education and he’d hate to pull up the drawbridge for future generations.

    Anyway, I don’t want to speak for Jim, so he can correct me if I am off base. I just want to say that I think he has helped by shedding light on the issues at play, which are complex.

    • Thanks, Izzo, you’ve obviously been paying attention! You are spot on. I am ambivalent about UVa/W&M privatization.

      I am dogmatic about one thing: Both institutions should lay their cards on the table. As Reed as detailed in the comments, what’s happening at UVa should come as no surprise to anyone. The university has signaled its intentions in numerous documents. Whether it has been as forthright in its dealings with the media, the public and with all board members is a question yet to be resolved.

  15. I got the same vibes from Jim as Izzo but I just don’t see anyone getting the level of transparency that Reed seems to want and at times seems to tread toward conspiracy thinking.

    No one is going to get to sit in on a UVA staff/board meeting or follow every email or conversation.. no more than any citizen is going to sit in on VDOT’s or the the SCC or METRO board meeting or William and Mary or VPI or Mary Washington, etc.

    how much are folks going to want – and get – before they are satisfied? I don’t think they’re going to change UVA’s mind as to the direction they want to go – by demanding to know every detail of how they are deliberating…

    finally -the focus on privatization is clearly not the same as a bigger picture concern for college affordability for all Virginians –
    which I consider far more important and relevant than whether or not UVA privatizes or not – though I do understand why it’s important to Alumni who have sent and want to send their own kids there.

    But are we using FOIA, transparency, affordability, suspected skulduggery , bad faith etc as proxies for UVA privatization . it has that feel to it …. sometimes in these discussions.

    I think UVA has got it together on dealing with the academic side and the longer term strategic side in their thinking… if they have not scrupulously divided the money as they should – that needs to be fixed – but in the end – I don’t see them going back … someone will have to convince them of a different better path or stand aside.

  16. Before we get into a ‘who-was-there-first” argument on privatizing Virginia public schools, here’s something I did for the Post nearly five years ago:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/creeping-privatization-at-virginias-public-colleges/2011/12/22/gIQArrSMEP_story.html?utm_term=.8b9f04b800f9

  17. there is an inherent problem with the state essentially trying to “buy down” tuition if they don’t have three necessary things.

    1. – a fair way to do this for all schools in Va not just UVA
    2. -metrics that say what the target tuition should be
    3. – a way to enforce the target tuition once the state has put in it’s share

    What we have now in the dialogue is some sort of vague idea that because the state is contributing dollars that somehow that’s supposed to keep tuition at some – to this point – undefined subjective level “in the eyes of the beholders”.

    even then – if you don’t have a truly fair way for all kids in Virginia to have an equal opportunity at a slot – you end up with a subsidized system that favors some over others.

    The onus is on those who want UVA to do something different than what they are doing now that applies to all schools – not on UVA to try to come up with something that pleases everyone for UVA and works for all schools in Va.

    over and over – we have a mindset that says that we are unhappy with something and we want it “fixed” but no one seems to want to step forward and say what “fix” actually means so we just play blame games.. with no way to proceed to a resolution.

  18. Ah yes, the old “so inter-mingled that [is it] even possible to separate research from academics” question. Although I haven’t had a chance to digest all of the comments for this post (so forgive me if this has been covered already) don’t forget the critical role of indirect F&As when it comes to grant money. For awards from the NIH, there really should not be a need for any kind of research slush fund to cover “sponsored” research. Of course there may be other types of non-hard science research at UVa that doesn’t have the luxury of this additional funding stream to cover indirect costs. For reference see:
    http://www.nature.com/news/indirect-costs-keeping-the-lights-on-1.16376 and
    https://www.virginia.edu/sponsoredprograms/FA-Fringe_Rate_Agreement_6-13-16.pdf

  19. As we wrap this post up, thanks again to Jim for continuing to drill down into this. As DLunsford and Izzo and ReedF all say, this is complex stuff and separating research from academics is rife with complications and seemingly a poor basis for fixing tuitions for undergraduate students — except, we have devised no other way. As LarryG said, “What we have now in the dialogue is some sort of vague idea that because the state is contributing dollars that somehow that’s supposed to keep tuition at some – to this point – undefined subjective level “in the eyes of the beholders”.” Yes, and the GA isn’t likely to do any better anytime soon. The only way forward is to get the State all in, or all out; and drawing that line between the community colleges and our semi-private-already research universities as a whole makes more sense to me than drawing a line between research and academics inside the institution.

    But such a change isn’t likely in my lifetime. Instead, we must let the graduate schools spin off on their own, and the cohesiveness of the “university” becomes increasingly a distant memory, indeed a fiction. This is privatization as Virginia is in fact pursuing it. We can do better.

  20. well .. if you are looking for “leadership”.. ie. someone willing to push the ball down the field.. look no further than UVA.

    if you’re looking for feckless do nothing whining behavior – there’s a contest… 😉

  21. “Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe loosened his tie, took off his suit jacket, and climbed into the driver’s seat of a semi tractor-trailer in Abingdon Tuesday afternoon. His visit to Roger’s Trucking gave him a first-hand look at a new commercial driver’s training program being offered by Virginia Highlands Community College.”

    this is an example where one might ask – why the State taxpayers would not fully fund this instruction to get someone directly into the job force … if they are also going to provide subsidies to places like UVA.

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