To those of you who are returning, welcome back! To those of you who are first joining us at UVA, we are excited to have you here at the University. My name is Mazzen Shalaby, and I am the Student Member of the Board of Visitors (BOV) for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Board of Visitors is the highest governing body at the University, responsible for long-term planning and approving all major decisions at UVA. This includes signing off on design and construction of buildings or renovations, academic and degree programs, tuition and budget proposals, uses of the Strategic Investment Fund, and many other important matters.
I will spare you the ubiquitous “unprecedented and uncertain times” paragraph as you all are well aware of these times through your lived experiences, and every other email reminding you of them. However, I will offer my support to anyone and everyone who has been affected by the numerous national and international crises we are currently navigating, from the global pandemic to the long overdue reckoning over issues of racial justice and equality. If there is ever anything I can do to help you, personally or professionally, please feel free to contact me via email. I recognize that these have been incredibly challenging times for many, and I sincerely hope we will come together and support each other as a community. I would also like to thank the countless workers who have spent the last six months on the frontlines of this pandemic; nothing we seek to do would be possible without your hard work and dedication.
As Student Member, my role is to represent the 24,000-plus students at the University, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in Charlottesville, Wise, and across the Commonwealth. Speaking for the entire student body requires that I understand all of our community’s diverse perspectives and experiences at UVA. This has been especially difficult in our new virtual world, so sincerely, I hope you all will reach out with your input through email or Facebook so that I can elevate the concerns and opinions of students to the Board of Visitors and UVA’s leadership. I hope you will also take the time to fill out this brief, anonymous, Google form for any concerns you may have in advance of next week’s September Board Meeting.
Review of Summer Activity
The Board’s schedule, like so many others, was disrupted by the pandemic over the summer. Our June meeting was shortened, and we spent the overwhelming majority of the summer focused on how to safely reopen the University this fall. I spent this time working with members of the administration and student leadership to emphasize student concerns through the process (from tuition rates to the decision to reopen), and I will continue to do so as we navigate this reopening together.
September Meeting Preview
- Racial Equity Task Force Report: The Board will hold a discussion with University leadership on the Racial Equity Task Force’s findings. We will discuss action items and ways the University can address and implement the Report’s findings. This conversation will include the topic of naming for various buildings and structures around the University.
- Reopening: The Board will discuss the University’s reopening and work to ensure the University and Charlottesville communities remain safe throughout the semester.
- Budget: The board will review a revised budget in light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the University. I plan to raise the topic of tuition during this discussion, as I have throughout the summer.
- Buildings & Grounds: The Board will review plans for the new Ivy Corridor project, including the School of Data Science and the new hotel and conference center, as well as renovation to Darden’s Smith Hall.
The open sessions will be live streamed.
I look forward to continuing to listen to, and advocate for, members of the UVA community. While I originally hoped to hold in-person office hours and town halls while dropping into various meetings and spaces around Grounds, I had to change these plans in light of our current circumstances. I still sincerely wish to personally engage with people across the University, so I will continue to reach out to groups around Grounds, and I hope you will reach out to me as well. I am available to meet in person (from a safe social distance) or via Zoom on a daily basis, so please do not hesitate to reach out. While these are certainly challenging times, they also provide the opportunity for us to reexamine and reimagine the systems, institutions, and practices around us; though it will not be easy, I am confident we can emerge from this period of reflection with newfound strength, purpose, and unity.
Student Member of the Board of Visitors | 2020-2021
About the Board of Visitors
The Board of Visitors is composed of 17 voting members appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, for terms of four years. In addition, the Board of Visitors appoints, for a one-year term, a full-time student and faculty member at the University of Virginia as non-voting members of the Board of Visitors. The Rector and Visitors serve as the corporate board for the University of Virginia, and are responsible for the long-term planning of the University. The Board approves the policies and budget for the University, and is entrusted with the preservation of the University's many traditions, including the Honor System. The Board maintains offices in the Northwest Wing of the Rotunda and meets four times per year. Meetings are open to the public.
Comments, questions, or concerns?
Contact Mazzen Shalaby, the 2020-2021 Student Member of the Board of Visitors.