History & Context

Download the Plan

In December 2013, the University released its last strategic plan, The Cornerstone Plan, which articulated “a vision and set of strategic directions that will equip the University to move boldly into its third century” (The Cornerstone Plan, p. 3). Prior to developing the plan, the University commissioned a study evaluating our position relative to our peers. Among other findings, the study noted that the University “is uniformly recognized among Research 1 universities for its superior undergraduate experience and its emphasis on the liberal arts… a distinctive shared culture among faculty and students, leadership in areas of the humanities and social sciences, outstanding professional schools that notably value the student experience, several top-tier science and engineering research programs, and an unusual residential scale among research universities” (The Cornerstone Plan, p. 6). It further noted that those strengths translated into high ratings in numerous publications including U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review, and Investor’s Business Daily, all of which state that UVA is among the best values in higher education. While the study underscored the University’s strengths, it also pointed out that some held the perception that the University had not kept pace in research funding and needed to bolster its faculty recruitment efforts.

  1. 1.The Cornerstone Plan

    2013 - 2018

    Based in part on this analysis, the University developed the Cornerstone Plan, which was built around five pillars:

    • Enrich and strengthen the University’s distinctive residential culture
    • Strengthen the University’s capacity to advance knowledge and serve the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world through research, scholarship, creative arts, and innovation
    • Provide educational experiences that deliver new levels of student engagement
    • Assemble and support a distinguishing faculty
    • Steward the University’s resources to promote academic excellence and affordable access

    Over the past six years, focusing on these pillars allowed the University to make great strides in addressing some of our biggest institutional challenges. For example, we significantly increased our sponsored research budget and our pan-University research efforts—from $284 million in 2013 to $394 million in 2018—including launching a broad translational research effort, iTHRIV. We started four pan-University institutes, focused on the Brain, Global Infectious Diseases, Environmental Resilience, and Data Science, each of which takes a multi-disciplinary approach to one of the world’s greatest challenges.

    The University also made progress in providing educational experiences that produced higher levels of student engagement, creating dynamic, cutting-edge infrastructure such as the Link Lab, where students collaborate on research that is addressing real-world challenges. Launching the Global Studies program provided an interdisciplinary program long requested by students, bringing together theory and practice with an emphasis on experiential learning in global contexts.

    The College of Arts & Sciences continues to pilot an innovative, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary general education curriculum spearheaded by College Fellows, some of UVA’s best scholar-teachers. The result is an education in the liberal arts and sciences that is built upon a new first-year experience, designed to help students flourish at UVA, in their chosen careers, and as active citizens.

    We have made great strides in building a strong and diverse faculty bolstered by significant investment in our Bicentennial Professorships and our innovative recruitment strategies, including Targets of Opportunity (“TOPS”) and cluster hires. Moreover, our students report a high degree of satisfaction with the quality of faculty instruction.

    Finally, through AccessUVA and other efforts, our student body is more diverse than at any time in our history.

    In short, we have made significant progress. Now it falls to us to build on our foundation, recognizing where we are strong and where we must improve. We also have an obligation to recognize how the world has changed over the past six years and to lay out a vision that will allow us not only to keep pace but to lead.

    Some of the themes articulated in the plan that follows—like our unique residential experience—are extensions of the work done over the past years. Others—like the need to be a better neighbor—are new. All of them are presented with humility, knowing that in a rapidly changing world, our thinking and plans must continually evolve.

  2. 2.Ours to Shape

    On August 1, 2018, his first day in office, President Jim Ryan posed some critical questions about how UVA can best build community, support discovery, and serve Charlottesville, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world. Through the “Ours to Shape” initiative, University and community members were invited to weigh in with their vision of the University’s future.

    On October 2, 2018, the President appointed a Strategic Planning Committee and charged it as follows:

    During the 2018-2019 academic year, a Presidentially appointed Committee will lead a structured process that will enable University leadership to make informed strategic decisions about the future direction of the University. Co-chaired by Michael Lenox (Professor, Senior Associate Dean and Chief Strategy Officer at the Darden School) and Margot Rogers (the President’s Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives), the Committee will complete its work by late spring 2019 with the goal of sharing a draft plan with the University’s Board of Visitors at their meeting on June 7, 2019. The strategic plan that results from this process will be operational for a minimum of five years and will be geared to achieving the vision for the University in ten to fifteen years. The process will be inclusive of the University and the community’s diverse constituencies and will foster a climate of mutual respect. Not every stakeholder may agree with every specific position or action that the resulting strategic plan advances, but all should feel that the process was inclusive and fair.

    The Ours to Shape website provided a primary mechanism for people to provide input to the strategic planning process. To augment feedback received through the website, President Ryan and the Strategic Planning Committee conducted over 100 outreach sessions attended by thousands of people representing wide-ranging constituencies, including Deans and other University leaders, faculty members, staff, students, parents, alumni, and friends. The Strategic Planning Committee analyzed all of the feedback and identified themes of importance to the UVA community. The sixteen themes ranged from “research,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “student services,” to “external relationships,” and “operations.” The outreach also generated specific ideas for initiatives the University could undertake to address some of our biggest challenges and opportunities.

    Based on this input and working sessions with University leaders, collaborators from across the University analyzed fifty potential initiatives. University leaders reviewed, discussed, and debated these initiatives, and pared the list to ten, which form the core of the strategic plan.

  3. 3.Committee Membership

    • Michael Lenox

      ('93 SEAS, '94 SEAS)

      Committee Co-Chair; Murphy Professor of Business; Senior Associate Dean; and Chief Strategy Officer at the UVA Darden School of Business

    • Margot Rogers

      ('92 LAW, '92 GSAS)

      Committee Co-Chair; Senior Advisor to the President, Strategic Initiatives

    • Ruth Bernheim

      ('80 LAW)

      Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences; Professor of Public Health Sciences, Medicine and Family Medicine at the UVA School of Medicine; Co-Director of the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life at UVA

    • Philip Bourne

      Stephenson Chair of Data Science; Director of the Data Science Institute; Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the UVA School of Medicine

    • Catherine Bradshaw

      Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Deveopment at the UVA Curry School of Education and Human Development

    • Gregory Fairchild

      ('92 DARDEN)

      Isidore Horween Research Professor of Business Administration; Associate Dean for Washington, D.C. Area Initiatives; and Academic Director of Public Policy and Entrepreneurship at the UVA Darden School of Business

    • Allen Groves

      ('90 LAW)

      Associate Vice President and University Dean of Students

    • Kelsey Johnson

      Professor in the Department of Astronomy at the UVA College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; Director of the Echols Scholars Program; Director of the Dark Skies, Bright Kids program

    • Christine Kennedy

      Associate Dean for Academic Programs; Madeline Higginbotham Sly Professor of Nursing at the UVA School of Nursing; Professor of Pediatrics at the UVA School of Medicine

    • John Lach

      Professor in the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Director of Cross-Cutting Initiatives at the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science

    • Coleen McNamara

      Frances Myers Ball Professor of Internal Medicine at the UVA School of Medicine

    • Stephen Mull

      Vice Provost for Global Affairs

    • Jahan Ramazani

      ('81 CLAS)

      University Professor and Edgar F. Shannon Professor in the Department of English

    • Margaret Foster Riley

      Professor of Law; Director of Animal Law at the UVA School of Law; Professor of Public Health Sciences at the UVA School of Medicine; Professor of Public Policy at the UVA Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; Faculty Representative on the Board of Visitors

    • Bethany Teachman

      Professor of Psychology; Director of Clinical Training; Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Psychology at the UVA College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

    • Rambert Tyree

      Fourth-Year Student in the UVA McIntire School of Commerce

    Ex Officio Members:

    • Frank (Rusty) Conner

      ('78 CLAS, '81 LAW)

      Rector, Board of Visitors

    • Jennifer (J.J.) Wagner Davis

      Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, represented by Megan Lowe, Assistant Vice President and Chief of Staff

    • Tom Katsouleas

      Executive Vice President and Provost, represented by Anda Webb, Vice Provost for Administration and Chief of Staff

    • M. Elizabeth Magill

      ('95 LAW)

      Executive Vice President and Provost-Elect, represented by Anda Webb, Vice Provost for Administration and Chief of Staff

    • Richard (Rick) Shannon

      Executive Vice President, Health Affairs

Strategic Goals

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Next Steps

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