UVA approves first round of projects using controversial multi-billion dollar fund
WWBT – CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Friday, the University of Virginia's Board of Visitors approved 13 grant proposals to start spending some of the controversial $2.3 billion fund it has.
According to the university, the first round of investments from the school's Strategic Investment Fund totals approximately $26 million and will "support pioneering research, enhance students' academic experience and bring next-generation technology and research infrastructure to Grounds."
UVA said the thirteen initiatives selected Friday "represent critical first steps in meeting the ambitious goal behind the more-than-$2 billion investment fund," which was established by the school's Board of Visitors to support projects the university sees as "aligning with priorities in UVA's Cornerstone Plan and the Medical Center's Strategic Plan."
The money has been the source of controversy in recent months, as former rector for the board Helen Dragas brought the fund into the open when she penned an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, where she characterized the money as a "slush fund."
The university said the money is not connected to tuition or public funding.
Some state legislators have expressed concern over the fund and asked the university to be more transparent about it. In addition, lawmakers in Richmond argued that UVA doesn't admit enough in-state students.
The university said it needs more out-of-state students to help with income.
In their statement Friday, UVA said "69.3 percent of students are from Virginia, exceeding goals of existing enrollment plans," adding that another enrollment plan currently being developed for the board's consideration is expected to further increase in-state enrollment.
The programs approved by UVA are as follows:
• School of Engineering and Applied Sciences LinkLab for Cyber Physical Systems - $4,810,000 - Interdisciplinary research and lab space dedicated to developing cyber physical systems that can bridge the gap between the cyber and physical worlds and spur further technological and economic development.
• Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research Federal Work Study Research Program - $559,500 - Leverage federal funds to expand student work-study program and provide research experiences to first-year, second-year and transfer undergraduate students with financial need, providing valuable hands-on experience that students say has changed the course of their academic and professional careers.
• School of Continuing and Professional Studies Public Safety Program - $600,000 - Seed funding to help meet the needs of state and federal law enforcement agencies by expanding public safety offerings promoting consistent training and education standards.
• College of Arts & Sciences Doctoral Student Support - $4,800,000 - Increased financial support for doctoral students, essential to research output and quality.
• College of Arts & Sciences Center for Catalytic Conversion of Natural Gas - $1,955,000 - Augmented resources for laboratory and research center studying cost-effective processes for converting natural gas into liquid fuel to optimize utilization and limit negative environmental impact.
• Law Public Service Program - $1,000,000 - Enhance an existing program to attract and support students interested in public service as their vocation, including new public service scholarships, support for a student travel program and a public service loan forgiveness program.
• ResearchNET Research Development - $4,461,000 - A suite of tools designed to better position UVA students and faculty to identify, pursue and win large-scale research opportunities nationally and internationally.
• Research UVA Next Generation Technology - $2,952,724 - Robust electronic research support system to handle increased research application volume and changing technology requirements.
• Curry Research Faculty - $2,406,400 - New research appointments in UVA's Curry School of Education to increase education research, identify proposal opportunities and secure additional grant awards.
• Darden Merit-Based Scholarships - $1,000,000 - Provide a bridge to increased private support for scholarships that will attract the most qualified students to UVA's Darden School of Business.
• Research Computing - $750,000 - Expand capability and support for high-performing and secure computer clusters.
• McIntire Global Commerce Program - $500,000 - Seed funding supporting the new one-year, three-continent M.S. in Global Commerce program offered by UVA's McIntire School of Commerce in partnership with top business schools in Spain and China.
• Reimagining Librarianship Strategic Plan - $250,000 - Examine shifting scholarship needs and create a plan to support new forms of research, including new digital resources.
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