Survey respondents favor academic for next UVa president | UVa news

The next University of Virginia president should have an academic background, according to a little more than half of those who responded to an online survey.

More than 75 percent of the 4,584 respondents to the survey conducted by UVa’s Presidential Search Committee said they believe “academic excellence” is the university’s most important quality, and 59 percent said “remaining a leader in national higher education” should be among the president’s top priorities.

The survey, which closed earlier this month, drew 1,988 responses from alumni.

Margaret Grundy, the search committee member charged with conducting the survey, presented the results to the rest of the committee Friday.

Grundy said the majority of respondents felt academics should be a top priority and that the president should have some background in academia.

 “There were also variations on that theme, like, ‘someone who has a good understanding of the academic world,’” Grundy said. “I’d say, overall, the stronger emphasis was wanting someone from an academic background.”

At previous meetings, the committee discussed the possibility of hiring a “non-traditional” president — in the vein of University of California Chancellor Janet Napolitano. This has proved to be unpopular with faculty members, who have spoken out against the idea at nearly every feedback session with committee members.

Among the 246 faculty respondents to the online survey, 76 percent said they want someone from academia.

Other qualifications highlighted by respondents — who were asked to choose three of the most important areas of expertise from a list — included “leadership of complex organizations” (76 percent), “understanding academic research” (34 percent) and “fundraising experience” (34 percent).

Most respondents said they want a…

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