Group annotations on this page
mehaffydc on 2010-12-22"All the President's Profs
December 22, 2010
Calling them Mr. Jefferson’s Justice League is somehow irresistible. Perhaps that’s because the University of Virginia’s Faculty Budget Advisory Committee resembles a gathering of superheroes, where brainiacs of varied disciplines combine their powers to confront a common enemy.
Granted, the villain – deteriorating university resources – is not as sexy as, say, Lex Luthor. And the scholarly powers of endowed chairs are hardly gamma rays. At the same time, there’s a sense Virginia has responded to a difficult economic environment in part by convening an astute assembly of professors on a campus founded 191 years ago by Thomas Jefferson.
The 13-member crew, whose membership is weighted toward those with some business or finance acumen, is charged to serve as an informal advisory group to Teresa A. Sullivan, the university’s recently minted president. But Sullivan says the committee is also designed to bring transparency to the institution’s often-mystifying budgeting process, connecting the university’s administrators with a diverse pool of faculty.
“It seemed to me a shame these two groups of smart people hadn’t sat down with each other before,” she says.
Unlike a standard faculty budget task force, the advisory committee isn’t necessarily engaged with a particular issue, such as where the university should cut or invest. Instead, it is grappling with more fundamental high-level questions, such as whether the university operates with sufficient liquidity – or cash on hand – to pay its bills should there be another huge economic plummet.
Another point of distinction for the budget committee is its make-up. Like most university-wide committees, the group includes professors across a range of disciplines. At the same time, Sullivan clearly sought a number of faculty with business orientations, and committee members were charged to "draw on on their own expertise in financial matters to prov