UVA Closer to Coveted Institution Status

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

Both the House of Delegates and the senate passed their version of the bills Tuesday, February 8, which would give all public universities in the state basic autonomy.

The bills would allow for more flexibility in things like tuition, construction, and personnel.

"What's in the framework is pretty far–reaching," said Colette Sheehy, VP of Management & Budget for UVA. "Now what we're actually able to negotiate with the administration and the general assembly is something different."

It also establishes three levels of autonomy, based on the school's finances and operations. The universities would operate under a six-year financial and academic plan.

Any school in the top two levels would have to negotiate a contract with the state government, which outlines the universities plans for tuition and the ratios of in-state and out-state students. UVA would apply for the top level.

"We're very excited," said Sheehy. I think this is a major step forward in higher education for the commonwealth.”

However, others are still not that excited about the covered institution status. Opponents have concerns about tuition skyrocketing and the university's employees.

"There'll be a two-tiered labor force. The new employees starting will not have the benefits, pay, anything, like the old employees," said Jan Cornell, President of SUUVA CWA.

But university officials say there are measures in place to for employees.

"It leaves open to the Board of Visitors the ability to set policies for future employees," said Cornell.

The bill was changed to include all state, public universities after some officials were concerned with elitism. All the institutions would still be state agencies. The bill does still have to get approval from Governor Warner by March 28.

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