State Senators Demand Answers on UVA’s Reserve Fund
State Senators Bill DeSteph and Chap Petersen are demanding more transparency from the University of Virginia after the revelation that the university has a multibillion dollar reserve fund.
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - The recent revelation that the University of Virginia has a multibillion dollar reserve fund has many people concerned. Now, two lawmakers are demanding answers and calling on university leaders to roll back tuition.
State Senator Bill DeSteph (R- 8th District) called on the inspector general to launch an investigation Thursday. He’s also reaching out to other officials to conduct an audit and asking the Virginia attorney general for a legal opinion.
DeSteph and fellow State Senator Chap Petersen (D-34th District) say it's time for UVA to offer more transparency.
"I'm not saying there's anything wrong. I'm just saying there's a lot of questions and something doesn't seem right,” DeSteph said.
The issue came to light after former university rector Helen Dragas wrote about it in the Washington Post. She labeled these dollars a slush fund while university officials have called it a strategic investment fund designed to promote the long-term financial security of the school.
“You could use just the money from the investment of this $2.3 billion and reduce tuition 70% for statewide students. We got to fix this,” said DeSteph.
Senators DeSteph and Petersen say they're alarmed by this fund. DeSteph is looking to get to the bottom of it.
“From a strategic reserves standpoint, the state's rainy day fund or reserve fund is $800 million. This is three times the amount of the state reserve and this is a state agency - a public university - and they feel they need something three times the size of the entire state of Virginia,” DeSteph said.
Petersen, a UVA graduate, says he shares these concerns and is considering introducing a bill on this issue next session.
"The General Assembly needs to rein them in. I mean, if necessary, I'll bring legislation in 2017 saying universities, by law, cannot price their education beyond what it actually costs. In other words, you can't overcharge your consumers and then run a surplus,” Petersen said.
The University of Virginia has several online resources including frequently asked questions about the Strategic Investment Fund, the latest audit, and a recent statement from University Rector William Goodwin.