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UVa gives Ryan three-year extension on contract

University of Virginia leadership has extended the contract of President Jim Ryan for another three years.

The UVA Board of Visitors last week voted unanimously to keep Ryan around until 2028. The decision came after a closed-door meeting of the board, during which members discussed the school’s top administrators and the upcoming departure of Provost Liz Magill, who will take over as president of the University of Pennsylvania.

“Jim Ryan has been a strong and focused leader for this community under extraordinary circumstances,” UVa Rector Whitt Clement said. “We are pleased that he has agreed to this extension and look forward to what the institution will accomplish under his leadership in the coming years.”

Ryan joined UVa in August 2018, the ninth president the university has had since it was founded in 1819.

The school was originally designed to not have a president but to have administrative duties shared by the Board of Visitors. By the 20th century that proved too cumbersome and the decision was made to hire Edwin Alderman as UVa’s first president. He served from 1904 to 1931.

Clement noted Ryan’s effort to create and implement the school’s strategic plan, built around the concept of the university being “great and good” in all of its efforts, from education and equity to being a member of the broader community.

Ryan and his team also kicked off Honor the Future, a $5 billion capital campaign for the school that has raised about $3.9 billion so far.

During his tenure, Ryan has been involved in the hiring of eight school deans, numerous administrators and the executive team that includes Magill. The university also boosted wages in pursuit of a ‘living wage’ for all employees and contractors.

Ryan’s tenure has also seen the founding of the School of Data Science, the Karsh Institute of Democracy, and many others. The school has begun redeveloping the Emmet Street-Ivy Road Corridor to include the new schools and a new hotel and conference center.

Ryan and his team led the school’s effort at enduring the pandemic, transitioning to online learning in the spring of 2020 and then developing programs to allow students to return to classes despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The board also approved a three-year contract extension for UVa Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis until 2028.

In addition, the board approved the appointment of current College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Dean Ian Baucom to replace Magill when she leaves. Magill begins her role as Penn’s president on July 1.

Ryan named Baucom as Magill’s successor in January, but the appointment required Board of Visitor’s approval.

“With the departure of Provost Magill and our desire to retain top leadership as we come out of the pandemic, the success of the $5 billion capital campaign and as we continue to implement the 2030 Strategic Plan, the board considered whether it was an appropriate time to discuss President Ryan and an extension of his employment with the university,” UVa Rector Whitt Clement said. “His proven leadership is important for these next few years.”

Ryan, a first-generation college student, earned a law degree at UVa and taught as a faculty member of law school. His current base salary of $750,000 annually was not changed.

“I’m grateful to the board for their trust, and I’m excited to continue to move forward on the strategic plan and to work alongside some of the most talented leaders and scholars in all of higher education,” Ryan said. “There’s more to do, and as we return to more normal operations, I’m optimistic that UVa will emerge stronger than ever and well prepared to serve the commonwealth, our nation and the world.”


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