University of Virginia Foundation – Charlottesville, Virginia – Advisory Service Panel

Date:  October 13-18, 2019

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Sponsor: University of Virginia Foundation

Subject Area: Institution

Panel Chair: Marty Jones, MLJ Insights – Winchester, MA

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Background and Panel Assignment

In 1985, the University of Virginia engaged an Urban Land Institute Advisory Service Panel to assess the potential effect of a more strategic and sophisticated program of real estate acquisition, development, and use. This eventually led to the establishment of the UVA Foundation in 1989. Thirty years later, the Foundation owns and manages nearly 5,200 acres of land including 70+ properties, and 1.85M Square feet of improved real estate – on behalf of the University of Virginia.   

With new leadership and a new strategic plan from the President of the University, the Foundation believed it an opportune moment to review and ensure it is well positioned to support the University’s stated goal of excellence through an Advisory Service Panel charged with examining: 

  • Organizational Structure 
  • Financial Performance 
  • Strategic Visioning  
  • Best practices with other University and University Foundation partnerships

Summary of Recommendations

The panel reinforced the importance of aligning the UVA Foundation’s (UVAF) strategic goals and operations with the President of UVA’s new 2030 Plan. The plan outlines 4 goals and 10 initiatives to further the mission of the university. The panel stressed that reaching these goals would require real estate expertise, and recommended the following approaches for the Foundation:    

  • Analyze UVAF organization structure and adjust staff structure, operational efficiencies, and roles and responsibilities. 
  • Incorporate financial best practices regarding risk assessment, reporting metrics, and portfolio management. 
  • UVAF can be a thought-partner in real estate planning involving the President’s goals and initiatives. 
  • UVAF can play a key role in helping the university be a good neighbor: 

      • Consider private-public partnerships to access new funding sources (affordable housing, opportunity zones, new markets tax credits) 
      • Consider use of UVAF-owned real estate to yield mutual prosperity for the UVA Foundation, UVA and the surrounding community 
      • Consider opportunities to leverage UVA Foundation spending power to create wealth for traditionally disadvantaged communities (Supplier Diversity Program) 
  • Hire a research park director and invest in immediate place-making and marketing initiatives at the existing research park. 
  • Pursue defense and security industry expansion at the research park. 
  • Grow research facilities on or near UVA grounds, and empower the UVA Foundation to be involved in this process. 

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