Dr. Michael Strine
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, University of Virginia
Dr. Michael Strine, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the University of Virginia gave a presentation to the Society on his role within the University, his path to the University, and the key goals and challenges he foresees facing during his tenure. Dr. Strine defined his main role as aligning the resources of the University – people, time, money and space – with the University’s goals of education, patient care, research, and service. Dr. Strine first reflected on Mr. Jefferson’s enduring and lifelong advocacy of education and his belief that education was not only beneficial to the individual, but to society as a whole. Despite its inherent value, Dr. Strine also noted trends in the disinvestment in public education and the many voices questioning the value of higher education. Noting the rising costs of higher education, Dr. Strine reiterated some of the many benefits of a college degree and of a university community: higher lifetime earnings for graduates, high quality patient care for the community, and the development of new technologies and innovations that can be translated into opportunities for businesses. Dr. Strine also advocated for a balanced approach to education, citing Steve Jobs in his assertion that not only science and technology, but also the humanities, are essential for comprehensive education that produces well-rounded and innovative students.
     Dr. Strine also reflected on his own path to the University of Virginia. He remembered fondly many childhood trips to see Monticello and Charlottesville. He also spoke about a mentor from his time as an undergraduate at the University of Delaware who was originally from the University of Virginia.  He described how his mentor strove to impart values treasured at the University of Virginia such as high quality interaction between students and faculty, commitment to academic rigor and innovative research. Dr. Strine then focused on some of the many strengths of the University and the unique challenges of a public institution. While acknowledging that the University faces obstacles private institutions may not, such as less autonomy and accountability for public investment, he went on to explain how the University excels, not only amongst public institutions, but institutions of higher education in general. Dr. Strine noted the University’s high retention and graduation rates, consistent recognition as one of the ‘best values’ in higher education, the high national rankings of undergraduate and professional programs, and the positive economic influences of University research.
     Dr. Strine concluded by turning his attention to the future, noting the strategic focus and the quality of the executive leadership at UVA. One of the important upcoming changes occurring at the University is a restructuring of the internal financial model. This restructuring seeks to increase resource capacity and would involve changing from a more traditional approach to appropriations to a more strategic distribution of funds that would better align resources with activities. This change seeks to enhance the capacity of funds, as well as increase accountability for those receiving funding. In taking questions from the audience, Dr. Strine went on to discuss topics including the ability of students to acquire rooms for academic activities, the role of liberal arts education and state institutions, financial resource allocation, and enrollment growth. Overall, the talk was informative and engaging, providing listeners with a fascinating overview of the current challenges and opportunities facing the University of Virginia.