|University of Virginia|
|Endowment||US $ 6.4 billion|
|Budget||US $ 2.7 billion (2013 - excludes capital spending)|
|President||Teresa A. Sullivan|
|Location||Charlottesville, Virginia, USA|
|Campus||World Heritage Site
1,682 acres (6.81 km2)
|Colors||Orange and Navy blue
|Athletics||NCAA Division I|
|Sports||25 varsity teams|
|Affiliations||Association of American Universities, Atlantic Coast Conference, Universitas 21|
|Official name: Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville|
|Criteria:||i, iv, vi|
|Designated:||1987 (11th session)|
|Region:||Europe and North America|
The University of Virginia (often abbreviated as UVA, U.Va., Virginia, or The University) is a research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. UVA is known for its financial aid, student-run honor code, and secret societies.
Its initial Board of Visitors included U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Presidents Jefferson and Madison were also the first two rectors of the university, while Monroe was the sitting President of the United States when it was founded and previously owned the land and original buildings of Brown College, a residential college at the university. UVA was established in 1819, with its Academical Village and original courses of study conceived and designed entirely by Jefferson. UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site since 1987, an honor shared with nearby Monticello.
The only university of the Commonwealth of Virginia elected to the Association of American Universities, UVA is classified as Very High Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification. The university is affiliated with 7 Nobel Laureates, and has produced 5 NASA astronauts, 7 Marshall Scholars, 4 Churchill Scholars, 29 Truman Scholars, and 50 Rhodes Scholars, the most of any state-affiliated institution in the U.S. Supported in part by the Commonwealth, it receives far more funding from private sources than public, and its students come from all 50 states and 147 countries.
Since 1953, Virginia's athletic teams have competed in the Atlantic Coast Conference of Division I of the NCAA and are known as the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia has won 23 National Championships total, and 63 ACC Championships since 2002 (as of 2014), the most of any conference member during that time.
In 1802, while serving as President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson wrote to artist Charles Willson Peale that his concept of the new university would be "on the most extensive and liberal scale that our circumstances would call for and our faculties meet," and that it might even attract talented students from "other states to come, and drink of the cup of knowledge". Virginia was already home to the College of William and Mary, but Jefferson lost all confidence in his alma mater, partly because of its religious nature – it required all its students to recite a catechism – and its stifling of the sciences. Jefferson had flourished under professors William Small and George Wythe decades earlier, but the college was in a period of great decline and his concern became so dire by 1800 that he expressed to British chemist Joseph Priestley, "we have in that State, a college just well enough endowed to draw out the miserable existence to which a miserable constitution has doomed it." These words would eventually ring true when William and Mary fell bankrupt after the Civil War and shut down completely in 1881, later being revived as a small teacher's college.
Farmland just outside Charlottesville was purchased from James Monroe by the Board of Visitors as Central College in 1817. The school laid its first building's cornerstone in late 1817, and the Commonwealth of Virginia chartered the new university on January 25, 1819. John Hartwell Cocke collaborated with James Madison, Monroe, and Joseph Carrington Cabell to fulfill Jefferson's dream to establish the university. Cocke and Jefferson were appointed to the building committee to supervise the construction. The university's first classes met on March 7, 1825.
In contrast to other universities of the day, at which one could study in either medicine, law, or divinity, the first students at the University of Virginia could study in one or several of eight independent schools – medicine, law, mathematics, chemistry, ancient languages, modern languages, natural philosophy, and moral philosophy. Another innovation of the new university was that higher education would be separated from religious doctrine. UVA had no divinity school, was established independently of any religious sect, and the Grounds were planned and centered upon a library, the Rotunda, rather than a church, distinguishing it from peer universities still primarily functioning as seminaries for one particular strain of Protestantism or another. Jefferson opined to philosopher Thomas Cooper that "a professorship of theology should have no place in our institution", and never has there been one. There were initially two degrees awarded by the university: Graduate, to a student who had completed the courses of one school; and Doctor to a graduate in more than one school who had shown research prowess.
Jefferson was intimately involved in the university to the end, hosting Sunday dinners at his Monticello home for faculty and students until his death. So taken with the import of what he viewed the university's foundations and potential to be, and counting it amongst his greatest accomplishments, Jefferson insisted his grave mention only his status as author of the Declaration of Independence and Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia. Thus, he eschewed mention of his national accomplishments, such as the Louisiana Purchase, in favor of his role with the young university.
In the year of Jefferson's death, poet Edgar Allan Poe enrolled at the university, where he excelled in Latin. The Raven Society, an organization named after Poe's most famous poem, continues to maintain 13 West Range, the room Poe inhabited during the single semester he attended the university. He left because of financial difficulties. The School of Engineering and Applied Science opened in 1836, making UVA the first comprehensive university to open an engineering school.
Unlike the vast majority of peer colleges in the South, the university was kept open throughout the Civil War, an especially remarkable feat with its state seeing more bloodshed than any other and the near 100% conscription of the entire American South. After Jubal Early's total loss at the Battle of Waynesboro, Charlottesville was willingly surrendered to Union forces to avoid mass bloodshed and UVA faculty convinced George Armstrong Custer to preserve Jefferson's university. Though Union troops camped on the Lawn and damaged many of the Pavilions, Custer's men left four days later without bloodshed and the university was able to return to its educational mission. However, an extremely high number of officers of both Confederacy and Union were alumni. UVA produced 1,481 officers in the Confederate Army alone, including four major-generals, twenty-one brigadier-generals, and sixty-seven colonels from ten different states. John S. Mosby, the infamous "Gray Ghost" and commander of the lightning-fast 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry ranger unit, had also been a UVA student.
|Wikisource has the text of an 1879 American Cyclopædia article about University of Virginia.|
Thanks to a grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia, tuition became free for all Virginians in 1875. During this period the University of Virginia remained unique in that it had no president and mandated no core curriculum from its students, who often studied in and took degrees from more than one school. However, the university was also experiencing growing pains. As the original Rotunda caught fire and burned to the ground in 1895, there would soon be sweeping change afoot.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
Jefferson had originally decided that the University of Virginia would have no president. Rather, this power was to be shared by a rector and a Board of Visitors. But as the 19th century waned, it became obvious this cumbersome arrangement was incapable of adequately handling the many administrative and fundraising tasks of the growing university. Edwin Alderman, who had only recently moved from his post as president of UNC-Chapel Hill since 1896 to become president of Tulane University in 1900, accepted an offer as president of the University of Virginia in 1904. His appointment was not without controversy, and national media such as Popular Science lamented the end of one of the things that made UVA unique among universities.
Alderman would stay twenty-seven years, and became known as a prolific fund-raiser, a well-known orator, and a close adviser to U.S. President and UVA alumnus Woodrow Wilson. He added significantly to the University Hospital to support new sickbeds and public health research, and helped create departments of geology and forestry, the Curry School of Education, the McIntire School of Commerce, and the summer school programs at which a young Georgia O'Keeffe would soon take art. Perhaps his greatest ambition was the funding and construction of a library on a scale of millions of books, much larger than the Rotunda could bear. Delayed by the Great Depression, Alderman Library was named in his honor in 1938. Alderman, who seven years earlier had died in office en route to giving a public speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, is still the longest-tenured president of the university.
As memorialized in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, after a gift by Andrew Carnegie in 1909 the University of Virginia was organized into twenty-six departments including the Andrew Carnegie School of Engineering, the James Madison School of Law, the James Monroe School of International Law, the James Wilson School of Political Economy, the Edgar Allan Poe School of English and the Walter Reed School of Pathology. The honorific historical names for these departments are no longer used.
The University of Virginia began the process of integration even before the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision mandated school desegregation for all grade levels, when Gregory Swanson sued to gain entrance into the university's law school in 1950. Following his successful lawsuit, a handful of black graduate and professional students were admitted during the 1950s, though no black undergraduates were admitted until 1955, and UVA did not fully integrate until the 1960s. In the modern day, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond taught at the University of Virginia for 23 years between 1990 and 2012, and UVA is often noted for the academic performance of its African-American community.
To improve higher education in the impoverished southwest region of its state, the University of Virginia established its first and only branch campus at Wise, Virginia, in 1954. Originally a junior college, the University of Virginia's College at Wise is now a four-year liberal arts college and currently enrolls 2,000 students, overwhelmingly from that region.
The university first admitted a few selected women to graduate studies in the late 1890s and to certain programs such as nursing and education in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1944, Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, became the Women's Undergraduate Arts and Sciences Division of the University of Virginia. With this branch campus in Fredericksburg exclusively for women, UVA maintained its main campus in Charlottesville as near-exclusively for men, until a civil rights lawsuit of the 1960s forced it to commingle the sexes. In 1970, the Charlottesville campus became fully co-educational, and in 1972 Mary Washington became an independent state university. When the first female class arrived, 450 undergraduate women entered UVA, comprising 39 percent of undergraduates, while the number of men admitted remained constant. By 1999, women made up a 52 percent majority of the total student body.
Resulting in part from continual decreases in state support, the University of Virginia in 2004 became the first public university in the United States to receive more of its funding from non-tuition private sources than from the state. A Charter initiative was signed into law by then-Governor Mark Warner in 2005, through which the university, and any other public universities in the state that choose to do so, will have greater autonomy over its own affairs in exchange for less financial support.
The university welcomed Teresa A. Sullivan as its first woman president in 2010, but just two years later its first woman rector, Helen Dragas, decided almost unilaterally to remove her and forced a resignation. The resignation elicited strong protests, including a faculty Senate vote of no confidence in the Board of Visitors and Rector Dragas, and demands from the student government for an explanation for Sullivan's ouster. In the face of mounting pressure, including alumni threats to cease contributions and a mandate from then-Governor Robert McDonnell to resolve the issue or face removal of the entire Board of Visitors, the Board unanimously voted to reinstate President Sullivan. In 2013 and 2014, the Board passed new bylaws that made it harder to remove a president, and considered one to make it possible to remove a rector.
Throughout its history, the University of Virginia has won praise for its unique Jeffersonian architecture. In January 1895, less than a year before the Great Rotunda Fire, The New York Times said that the design of the University of Virginia "was incomparably the most ambitious and monumental architectural project that had or has yet been conceived in this century." In the United States Bicentennial issue of their AIA Journal, the American Institute of Architects called it "the proudest achievement of American architecture in the past 200 years."
Jefferson's original architectural design revolves around the Academical Village, and that name remains in use today to describe both the specific area of The Lawn, a grand, terraced green space surrounded by residential and academic buildings, the gardens, The Range, and the larger university surrounding it. The principal building of the design, The Rotunda, stands at the north end of the Lawn, and is the most recognizable symbol of the university. It is half the height and width of the Pantheon in Rome, which was the primary inspiration for the building. The Lawn and the Rotunda were the model for many similar designs of "centralized green areas" at universities across the country. The space was designed for students and professors to live in the same area. The Rotunda, which symbolized knowledge, showed hierarchy. The south end of the lawn was left open to symbolize the view of cultivated fields to the south, as reflective of Jefferson's ideal for an agrarian-focused nation.
Most notably designed by inspiration of the Rotunda and Lawn are the expansive green spaces headed by similar buildings built at: Duke University in 1892; Johns Hopkins University in 1902; Rice University in 1910; Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 1915; Killian Court at MIT in 1916; the Grand Auditorium of Tsinghua University built in 1917 in Beijing, China; the Sterling Quad of Yale Divinity School in 1932; and the university's own Darden School in 1996.
Flanking both sides of the Rotunda and extending down the length of the Lawn are ten Pavilions interspersed with student rooms. Each has its own classical architectural style, as well as its own walled garden separated by Jeffersonian Serpentine walls. These walls are called "serpentine" because they run a sinusoidal course, one that lends strength to the wall and allows for the wall to be only one brick thick, one of many innovations by which Jefferson attempted to combine aesthetics with utility. Frank E. Grizzard, Jr., a former scholar at the university, has written the definitive book on the original academic buildings at the university.
On October 27, 1895, the Rotunda burned to a shell because of an electrical fire that started in the Rotunda Annex, a long multi-story structure built in 1853 to house additional classrooms. The electrical fire was no doubt assisted by the unfortunate help of overzealous faculty member William "Reddy" Echols, who attempted to save it by throwing roughly 100 pounds (45 kg) of dynamite into the main fire in the hopes that the blast would separate the burning Annex from Jefferson's own Rotunda. His last-ditch effort ultimately failed. Perhaps ironically, one of the university's main honors student programs is named for him. University officials swiftly approached celebrity architect Stanford White to rebuild the Rotunda. White took the charge further, disregarding Jefferson's design and redesigning the Rotunda interior—making it two floors instead of three, adding three buildings to the foot of the Lawn, and designing a president's house. He did omit rebuilding the Rotunda Annex, the remnants of which were used as fill and to create part of the modern-day Rotunda's northern-facing plaza. The classes formerly occupying the Annex were now moved to the South Lawn in White's new buildings.
The White buildings have the effect of closing off the sweeping perspective, as originally conceived by Jefferson, down the Lawn across open countryside toward the distant mountains. The White buildings at the foot of the Lawn effectively create a huge "quadrangle", albeit one far grander than any traditional college quadrangle at the University of Cambridge or University of Oxford.
In concert with the United States Bicentennial in 1976, Stanford White's changes to the Rotunda were removed and the building was returned to Jefferson's original design. Renovated according to original sketches and historical photographs, a three-story Rotunda opened on Jefferson's birthday, April 13, 1976. Queen Elizabeth II came to visit the Rotunda in that same year for the Bicentennial, and had a well-publicized stroll of The Lawn.
The university, together with Jefferson's home at Monticello, is a World Heritage Site, one of only three modern man-made sites so listed in the U.S. with the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall. The first collegiate World Heritage Site in the world, it was codified as such by UNESCO in 1987. The university was listed by Travel + Leisure in September 2011 as one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States and by MSN as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the world.
Housing for first-year students, Brown College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the University of Virginia Medical School are located near the historic Lawn and Range area. The McIntire School of Commerce is situated on the actual Lawn, in Rouss Hall.
Away from the historic area, UVA's architecture and its allegiance to the Jeffersonian design are controversial. The 1990s saw the construction of two deeply contrasting visions: the Williams Tsien post-modernist Hereford College in 1992 and the unapologetically Jeffersonian Darden School of Business in 1996. Commentary on both was broad and partisan, as the University of Virginia School of Architecture and The New York Times lauded Hereford for its bold new lines, while some independent press and wealthy donors praised the traditional design of Darden. The latter group appeared to have largely won the day when the South Lawn Project was designed in the early 2000s.
Billionaire John Kluge donated 7,379 acres (29.86 km2) of additional lands to the university in 2001. Kluge desired the core of the land, the 2,913-acre Morven, to be developed by the university and the surrounding land to be sold to fund an endowment supporting the core. Five farms totaling 1,261 acres of the gift were soon sold to musician Dave Matthews, of the Dave Matthews Band, to be utilized in an organic farming project to complement his nearby Blenheim Vineyards. Morven has since hosted the Morven Summer Institute, a rigrous immersion program of study in civil society, sustainability, and creativity. As of 2014, the university is developing further plans for Morven and has hired an architecture firm for the nearly three thousand acre property.
The primary housing areas for first-year students are McCormick Road Dormitories, often called "Old Dorms," and Alderman Road Dormitories, often called "New Dorms." The New Dorms are in the process of being fully replaced with brand new dormitories that feature hall-style living arrangements with common areas and many modern amenities. Instead of being torn down and replaced like the original New Dorms, the Old Dorms will see a $105 million renovation project between 2017 and 2022. They were constructed in 1950, and are also hall-style constructions but with fewer amenities. However, generally the Old Dorms are closer to the students' classes.
There are three residential colleges at the university: Brown College, Hereford College, and the International Residential College. These involve an application process to live there, and are filled with both upperclass and first year students. The application process can be extremely competitive, especially for Brown.
It is considered a great honor to be invited to live on The Lawn, and 54 fourth-year undergraduates do so each year, joining ten members of the faculty who permanently live and teach in the Pavilions there. Similarly, graduate students may live on The Range.
A National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study of "high-achieving" undergraduate applicants found UVA to be the highest preference for these students among public universities of the United States in December 2005, noting that "all of the top twenty, except for the University of Virginia, are private institutions." "High-achieving" applicants were defined as those ranking at or near the top of their classes at 510 outstanding high schools across the country.
Admission to the University of Virginia is thus competitive, with 93% of admitted applicants ranking in the top 10% of their high school classes. Matriculated students come from all 50 states and 147 foreign countries. The middle 50% of matriculated students scored between 620 and 720 on the Critical Reading portion and 640 and 740 on the Mathematics portion of the SAT. As of 2014, the mean MCAT score at the School of Medicine was 11.93 in the Biological Sciences, 11.74 in the Physical Sciences, and 10.81 in Verbal Reasoning, for a total of 34½. The average LSAT score was 169 at the School of Law, while at the Darden School of Business the average GMAT score was 706.
For the undergraduate Class of 2018, the University of Virginia received 31,042 applications, admitting 28.9 percent. The university has seen steady increases in the applicant pool throughout the past decade, and the number of applications has more than doubled since the Class of 2008 received 15,094 applications. Interested applicants may arrange an overnight visit through the Monroe Society, a student-run organization.
The University of Virginia joined with Harvard University and Princeton University in 2006 to end early admissions programs at their respective universities. The three universities then decided to have their admissions departments tour the country together to speak about this and other aspects of admissions. In 2011, all three decided to reinstate early admissions, but Princeton and Virginia, which had earlier used Early Decision programs, moved to less restrictive and non-binding Early Action. The New York Times invited UVA Dean of Admissions Greg Roberts to discuss types of early applications in 2012.
Although they decided to reinstate early admissions programs, the admissions department of UVA still teams up with those at Harvard and Princeton to tour the country and meet with high school students about their programs. In recent years, they have added Yale University to the mix, and now the four join together for this informational tour. The website HarvardPrincetonUVaYale.com, maintained by the four universities, provides updated information about where the admissions tour will be visiting in a given year.
UVA meets 100 percent of demonstrated need for all admitted undergraduate students, making it one of only two public universities in the U.S. to reach this level of financial aid for its students.
Thanks in part to its $6.4 billion endowment and the generous contributions of its alumni, UVA's AccessUVa program is nationally known: as of 2014, it is ranked #4 overall by the Princeton Review for "Great Financial Aid". In an age of rapidly increasing private university costs, this is an attraction to top students attending UVA, as described in the America's Best Colleges edition of U.S. News & World Report as being "chock full of academic stars who turn down private schools like Duke, Princeton, and Cornell for, they say, a better value." Indeed, in 2008 the Center for College Affordability and Productivity named UVA the top value among all national public colleges and universities; and in 2009, UVA was again named the "#1 Best Value" among public universities in the United States in a separate ranking by USA TODAY and the Princeton Review. Kiplinger in 2014 ranked UVA #2 out of the top 100 best-value public colleges and universities in the nation.
There has never been an honorary degree offered by the University of Virginia, and all degrees must be earned in the classroom. The policy was instituted by Jefferson. When the policy was under review in 1845, then-UVA professor and future Massachusetts Institute of Technology founder William Barton Rogers wrote, "[t]he legislators [...] have, we think, wisely made their highest academic honor – that of Master of Arts of the University of Virginia – the genuine test of diligent and successful literary training, and, disdaining such literary almsgiving, have firmly barred the door against the demands of spurious merit and noisy popularity." The policy was kept, and Rogers later brought the UVA tradition to MIT.
The University of Virginia has many highly regarded graduate programs. Programs ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report or other prominent field-specific rankings include Astronomy and Astrophysics, Law (and specialities Tax Law and International Law), Architecture, English (and specialties 18th through 20th Century British Literature, African-American Literature, American Literature, American Literature Before 1865, and Creative Writing), U.S. Colonial History, Political Theory, Developmental Psychology, Adult/Medical-Surgical Nursing, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, Business Management, and Education (and specialties Elementary Teacher Education, Secondary Teacher Education, and Special Education).
The University of Virginia Library System holds 5 million volumes. Its Electronic Text Center, established in 1992, has put 70,000 books online as well as 350,000 images that go with them. These e-texts are open to anyone and, as of 2002[update], were receiving 37,000 daily visits (compared to 6,000 daily visitors to the physical libraries). Alderman Library holds the most extensive Tibetan collection in the world, and holds ten floors of book "stacks" of varying ages and historical value. The renowned Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library features one of the premier collections of American Literature in the country as well as two copies of the original printing of the Declaration of Independence. It was in this library in 2006 that Robert Stilling, an English graduate student, discovered an unpublished Robert Frost poem from 1918. Clark Hall is the library for SEAS (the engineering school), and one of its notable features is the Mural Room, decorated by two three-panel murals by Allyn Cox, depicting the Moral Law and the Civil Law. The murals were finished and set in place in 1934. As of 2006[update], the university and Google were working on the digitization of selected collections from the library system.
The Jefferson Scholars Foundation offers four-year full-tuition scholarships based on regional, international, and at-large competitions. Students are nominated by their high schools, interviewed, then invited to weekend-long series of tests of character, aptitude, and general suitability. Approximately 3% of those nominated successfully earn the scholarship.
Echols Scholars (College of Arts and Sciences) and Rodman Scholars (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences), which include 6-7% of undergraduate students, receive no financial benefits, but are entitled to special advisors, priority course registration, residence in designated dorms and fewer curricular constraints than other students.
The University of Virginia is a member of a consortium engaged in the construction and operation of the Large Binocular Telescope in the Mount Graham International Observatory of the Pinaleno Mountains of southeastern Arizona. It is also a member of both the Astrophysical Research Consortium, which operates telescopes at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy which operates the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the Gemini Observatory and the Space Telescope Science Institute. The University of Virginia hosts the headquarters of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which operates the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Very Large Array radio telescope made famous in the Carl Sagan television documentary Cosmos and film Contact. The North American Atacama Large Millimeter Array Science Center is also located at the Charlottesville NRAO site.
|U.S. News & World Report||23|
The Daily Caller ranks UVA the #1 U.S. university and "the best school in the land" as of 2014, edging out Princeton University and Stanford University in the top three, when such factors as professor ratings, total cost, and "student hotness" are added to more traditional data points such as selectivity and graduation rates. The Business Insider college and university ranking, which strives to measure preparation for the professional workforce, ranks UVA #19 overall and #2 among publics.
In the history of the more widely publicized U.S. News & World Report rankings since 1983, the University of Virginia has never dropped out of the Top 25 overall, has always placed first or second among public colleges and universities, and has consistently retained its position as the highest ranked school, public or private, in its home state. At the undergraduate level, it currently ranks tied for #23 overall and #2 among publics.
Among the professional schools of UVA, as of 2014 U.S. News ranks its law school #8 overall and #1 among publics, its Darden School of Business tied for #11 overall and #2 among publics, and its medical school #26 overall and #8 among publics in the Research category. The Economist ranks Darden #4 worldwide and #2 among publics. At the undergraduate professional level, Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranks the McIntire School of Commerce #2 overall and #1 among publics.
In 2003, The Wall Street Journal studied the undergraduate backgrounds of students entering elite graduate programs (e.g., Harvard Business School, Yale Law School, Johns Hopkins Medical School, etc.) in the United States. The University of Virginia with 82 placements (2.6% of class) placed first among state-affiliated universities in these placements by percentage, and third in raw numbers (behind the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA).
|Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article about University of Virginia.|
The first known record of university rankings in the United States were compiled on behalf of the U.S. federal government in 1911 and rated UVA in the highest class of universities. The classification system, published by the chief specialist of what is today the United States Department of Education, estimated that it would take just one year for a Class I graduate to obtain a top Master's degree at a leading institution, whereas it would take two additional years for a Class IV graduate to obtain that same degree.
The University of Virginia was rated Class I. The only other modern public university in the state to be listed was a Class IV, Virginia Tech. Most Commonwealth-supported schools of the modern day did not yet exist, and unrated William and Mary was then only a small teacher-training institute after shuttering its academic departments some thirty years prior. UVA was the only Class I university in today's Atlantic Coast Conference, but seven future members – Boston College, Duke University (Trinity College until 1924), UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Pittsburgh, Syracuse University, and Wake Forest University – were rated Class II.
Even before the above classification system, the University of Virginia was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1904. The AAU recognizes outstanding research talent and programs, and its members employ the vast majority of faculty associated with the United States National Academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The first member institution from the postbellum south, the University of Virginia remains the sole member from its state. UVA was also the first member of the modern Atlantic Coast Conference to be elected and is now joined by UNC-Chapel Hill since 1922, Duke University since 1938, the University of Pittsburgh since 1974, and Georgia Tech since 2010.
The University of Virginia has been recognized for consistently having the highest African American graduation rate among national public universities. The university had an 87% black student graduation rate as of 2006, significantly higher than national peers: 73% at UCLA, 70% at UC Berkeley, and 68% at the University of Michigan. According to the Fall 2005 issue of Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, UVA "has the highest black student graduation rate of the Public Ivies" and "by far the most impressive is the University of Virginia with its high black student graduation rate and its small racial difference in graduation rates."
The university's faculty includes a Pulitzer Prize winner and former United States Poet Laureate, 25 Guggenheim fellows, 26 Fulbright fellows, six National Endowment for the Humanities fellows, two Presidential Young Investigator Award winners, three Sloan award winners, three Packard Foundation Award winners, and a winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Physics professor James McCarthy was the lead academic liaison to the government in the establishment of SURANET, and the university has also participated in ARPANET, Abilene, Internet2, and Lambda Rail. On March 19, 1986, the University's domain name, Virginia.edu, became the first registration under the .edu top-level domain originating from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Faculty were originally housed in the Academical Village among the students, serving as both instructors and advisors, continuing on to include the McCormick Road Old Dorms, though this has been phased out in favor of undergraduate student resident advisors (RAs). Several of the faculty, however, continue the university tradition of living on Grounds, either on the Lawn in the various Pavilions, or as fellows at one of three residential colleges (Brown College at Monroe Hill, Hereford College, and the International Residential College).
Some of the University of Virginia's faculty have become well-known national personalities during their time in Charlottesville. Larry Sabato has, according to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, become the most-cited professor in the country by national and regional news organizations, both on the Internet and in print. Civil rights activist Julian Bond, a professor in the Corcoran Department of History from 1990 until his retirement in 2012, was the Chairman of the NAACP from 1998 to 2009. Bond was also chosen to be the moderator of the 1998 Nobel Laureates Conferences, Media Studies and Law professor Siva Vaidhyanathan, an expert in copyright law and Internet issues, moved from New York University to the University of Virginia in 2007. Professor of Spanish David Gies received the Order of Isabella the Catholic from King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 2007. 1987 Pulitzer Prize for poetry recipient Rita Dove, professor in the English department since 1989, served as United States Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995, and has since received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.
The university has several affiliated centers including the Rare Book School, headquarters of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, University of Virginia Center for Politics, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, and Miller Center of Public Affairs. The Fralin Museum of Art is dedicated to creating an environment where both the university community and the general public can study and learn from directly experiencing works of art.
Managed by the University of Virginia Investment Management Company, and with $5.2 billion as of 2013, UVA's endowment ranked 16th among all singular (non-systemwide) colleges and universities in North America, and second among publics to the University of Michigan. The endowment has done especially well in recent decades. For instance, in 1990, the UVA endowment of less than half a billion dollars trailed a bit behind such peer universities as Johns Hopkins University and Vanderbilt University while being roughly half that of Cornell University. Today, the Virginia endowment is the equal of Cornell's and nearly twice that of Johns Hopkins or Vanderbilt.
In 2006, then-President Casteen announced an ambitious $3 billion capital campaign to be completed by December 2011. During the Great Recession, President Sullivan missed the 2011 deadline, and extended it indefinitely. The $3 billion goal would be met a year and a half later, which President Sullivan announced at graduation ceremonies in May 2013.
Though UVA is the flagship university of Virginia, state funding has decreased in recent years. Financial support from the state dropped by half from 12 percent of total revenue in 2001-02 to 6 percent in 2013-14. The portion of academic revenue coming from the state fell by even more in the same period, from 22 percent to just 9 percent. This nominal support from the state, contributing just $154 million of UVA's $2.6 billion budget in 2012-13, has led President Sullivan and others to contemplate the partial privatization of the University of Virginia. A panel called the Public University Working Group concluded in 2013 that UVA should sever many of its ties with the Commonwealth of Virginia in order to further advance its academic standing.
Hunter R. Rawlings III, President of the prominent Association of American Universities research group of universities to which UVA is an elected member, came to Charlottesville to make a speech to university faculty which included a statement about the proposal: "there's no possibility, as far as I can see, that any state will ever relinquish its ownership and governance of its public universities, much less of its flagship research university". He encouraged university leaders to stop talking about privatization and instead push their state lawmakers to increase funding for higher education and research as a public good.
The University of Virginia is one of only two public universities in the United States that has a Triple-A credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies, along with the University of Texas at Austin.
Virginia's athletic teams have been the Cavaliers since 1923, predating the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers by five decades, and have competed in the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1953. The current Athletic Director of Virginia is Craig Littlepage. Since 2002, the Cavaliers have won 63 ACC titles, the most in the conference. Virginia also places highly in the yearly NACDA Directors' Cup program-wide national standings: taking third place in 2009-10, and finishing fourth in 2013-14.
The program has won 23 team national championships, including in men's lacrosse (7), men's soccer (6), women's lacrosse (3), men's boxing (2), women's crew (2), women's cross country (2), and men's tennis (1). Twenty of those have occurred with NCAA oversight and affiliation, making Virginia the second most-winning program in the ACC. Additionally, the program has won five (of the past six) indoor tennis national championships, and a track and field team title.
The most visible and widely attended sports are football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. The facilities for these sports are some of the best in the NCAA, and include Scott Stadium, John Paul Jones Arena, Davenport Field, and Klöckner Stadium. Each of these programs, except football, have seen a high standard of success in recent years, with men's basketball, baseball, and men's soccer all finishing in the top four nationally, either by final poll or post-season tournament, during the 2013-14 year.
Official ACC designated rivalry games include the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry and the brand new Virginia-Louisville rivalry against the Louisville Cardinals. These two rivalries are guaranteed a home-and-away game each year in all sports but football, in which there is a guaranteed annual game. Against the Virginia Tech Hokies, this is for the Commonwealth Cup, which Virginia has not seen for 14 of the past 15 years even as it has been on the winning end of the vast majority of other sports. The program is also a part of the more evenly balanced South's Oldest Rivalry against the North Carolina Tar Heels, a rivalry game which a sitting President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, once attended in Charlottesville.
The Cavaliers routed the Hokies in an all-sports challenge called the Commonwealth Challenge between 2005 and 2007: 14½ to 7½ in the first year and 14 to 8 in the second. The competition was then dropped for fear of sending a wrong message following the Virginia Tech massacre. The rivalry has been renewed and altered for 2014-15, renamed the Commonwealth Clash and sponsored by the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan. The point system changes of the Clash may make it more competitive than the Challenge. For instance: in the convincing victories for UVA over Tech in the Challenge, college basketball was worth 4 points and track and field was worth 2; in the Clash, basketball is now reduced to 2 points and track and field is boosted to 4.
The Cavalier Song is the University of Virginia's fight song. The song was a result of a contest held in 1923 by the university. The Cavalier Song, with lyrics by Lawrence Haywood Lee, Jr., and music by Fulton Lewis, Jr., was selected as the winner. Generally the second half of the song is played during sporting events. Until the 2008 football season, the entire fight song could be heard during the Cavalier Marching Band's entrance at home football games.
Even older, the Good Ole Song dates to 1893 and though not a fight song is the de facto alma mater. It is set to the music of Auld Lang Syne and is sung after each victory in any sport, and after each touchdown in football.
Student life at the University of Virginia is marked by a number of unique traditions. The campus of the university is referred to as "the Grounds". Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are instead called first-, second-, third-, and fourth-years in order to reflect Jefferson's belief that learning is a never-ending process, rather than one to be completed within four years. Also, students do not "graduate" from the university; instead, they "take" their degrees. Professors are traditionally addressed as "Mr." or "Ms." instead of "Doctor" (although medical doctors are the exception and are called "Doctor") in deference to Jefferson's desire to have an equality of ideas, discriminated by merit and unburdened by title.
In 2005, the university was named "Hottest for Fitness" by Newsweek magazine, due in part to 94% of its students using one of the four indoor athletics facilities. Particularly popular is the Aquatics and Fitness Center, situated across the street from the Alderman Dorms.
The University of Virginia sent more workers to the Peace Corps in 2006 and 2008 than any other "medium-sized" university in the United States. Volunteerism at the university is centered in Madison House which offers numerous opportunities to serve others. Among the numerous programs offered are tutoring, housing improvement, and an organization called Hoos Against Hunger, which gives leftover food from restaurants to the homeless of Charlottesville, rather than allowing it to be discarded.
A number of secret societies at the University, most notably the Seven Society, Z Society, and IMP Society, have operated for decades or centuries, leaving their painted marks on university buildings. Other significant secret societies include Eli Banana, T.I.L.K.A., the Purple Shadows (who commemorate Jefferson's birthday shortly after dawn on the Lawn each April 13), The Sons of Liberty, and the 21 Society. Not all the secret societies keep their membership unknown, but even those who don't hide their identities generally keep most of their good works and activities far from the public eye.
The student life building on the University of Virginia is called Newcomb Hall. It is home to the Student Activities Center (SAC) and the Media Activities Center (MAC), where student groups can get leadership consulting and use computing and copying resources, as well as several meeting rooms for student groups. Student Council, the student self-governing body, holds meetings Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in the Newcomb South Meeting Room. Student Council, or "StudCo", also holds office hours and regular committee meetings in the newly renovated Newcomb Programs and Council (PAC) Room. The PAC also houses the University Programs Council and Class Councils. Newcomb basement is home to both the office of the independent student newspaper The Declaration, The Cavalier Daily, and the Consortium of University Publications.
Student societies have existed on grounds since the early 19th Century. The Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, founded in 1825, is the second oldest Greek-Lettered organization in the nation (the oldest being the Phi Beta Kappa honor fraternity). It continues to meet every Friday at 7:29 PM in Jefferson Hall. The Washington Literary Society and Debating Union also meets every week, and the two organizations often engage in a friendly rivalry. In the days before social fraternities existed and intercollegiate athletics became popular, these societies were often the focal point of social activity on grounds. Several fraternities were later founded at UVA including Pi Kappa Alpha in 1868, and Kappa Sigma in 1869. Many of these fraternities are located on Rugby Road.
As at many universities, alcohol use is a part of the social life of many undergraduate students. Concerns particularly arose about a past trend of seniors consuming excessive alcohol during the day of the last home football game. President Casteen announced a $2.5 million donation from Anheuser-Busch to fund a new UVA-based Social Norms Institute in September 2006. A spokesman said: "the goal is to get students to emulate the positive behavior of the vast majority of students". On the other hand, the university was ranked first in Playboy's 2012 list of Top 10 Party Schools based on ratings of sex, sports, and nightlife.
The nation's first codified honor system was installed by UVA law professor Henry St. George Tucker, Sr. in 1842, after a fellow professor was shot to death on The Lawn. There are three tenets to the system: students simply must not lie, cheat, or steal. It is a "single sanction system," meaning that committing any of these three offenses will result in expulsion from the university. If accused, students are tried before their peers – fellow students, never faculty, serve as counsel and jury.
In theory the system of honor means that professors can give unproctored and even take-home closed-book exams, though there is no mandate that they do so. The honor system, along with one later established at Princeton University, is set apart from that of other universities in that it is entirely student-run and student-administered.
One of the largest events at the University of Virginia is called Springfest. It takes place every year in the spring, and features a large free concert and various inflatables and games. Another popular event is Foxfield, a steeplechase and social gathering that takes place nearby in Albemarle County in April, and which is annually attended by thousands of students from the University of Virginia and neighboring colleges.
Charlottesville Union Station is located just 0.6 miles (0.97 km) from the University of Virginia, and energy efficient Amtrak passenger trains serve Charlottesville on three routes: the Cardinal (Chicago to New York City), Crescent (New Orleans to New York City), and Northeast Regional (Virginia to Boston). The long-haul Cardinal operates three times a week, while the Crescent and Northeast Regional both run daily. Charlottesville–Albemarle Airport, 8 miles (13 km) away, has nonstop flights to Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Philadelphia. The larger Richmond International Airport is 77 miles (124 km) to the southeast, and the still larger Dulles International Airport is 99 miles (159 km) to the northeast. The Starlight Express offers direct express bus service from Charlottesville to New York City, and I-64 and U.S. 29, both major highways, are frequently used by vehicles.
Charlottesville, which typically registers zero to three murders per year, is generally considered a safe, healthy, and pleasant city. It has been cited as the #1 or #2 "Healthiest Place to Live" by both Men's Journal and Kiplinger, one of seven "Dream Towns That Have It All" by Outside, and the #1 "Top College Town in the Country" by Travelers Today. Nevertheless, several UVA students and one visiting student have been involved on both sides of homicides in Charlottesville during recent history.
Among the individuals who have attended or graduated from the University of Virginia are the founders of reddit (Steve Huffman and current Y Combinator partner Alexis Ohanian), author Edgar Allan Poe, Nobel Laureate James M. Buchanan, medical researcher Walter Reed, painter Georgia O'Keeffe, polar explorer Richard Byrd, computer scientist John Backus, pioneer kidney transplant surgeon J. Hartwell Harrison, five NASA astronauts (Patrick G. Forrester, Karl Gordon Henize, Bill Nelson, Thomas Marshburn, and Kathryn C. Thornton), deep sea vent researcher Richard Lutz, NASA Launch Director Michael D. Leinbach, Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Karl Shapiro and Henry S. Taylor, short story writer Breece D'J Pancake, Director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins, journalist Katie Couric, journalist Margaret Brennan, author David Nolan, comedian and creator of 30 Rock Tina Fey, film director Tom Shadyac, author Barbara A. Perry, musician Boyd Tinsley, billionaire commodity trader Paul Tudor Jones, venture capitalist Mansoor Ijaz, founder of Landmark Communications Frank Batten, novelist Robert Miskimon, influential indie rock artist Stephen Malkmus, hip-hop artist and Peabody Award winner Asheru, TV personality Vern Yip  and TV political commentator Michael Shure.
Notable athletes who have attended or graduated from the University of Virginia include three-time NCAA Player of the Year for men's basketball Ralph Sampson, pro wrestler Virgil, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist for women's basketball Dawn Staley, NFL Pro Bowlers Thomas Jones,Ronde Barber, Tiki Barber, and James Farrior; professional baseball players Mark Reynolds and Ryan Zimmerman, Olympic medalist Wyatt Allen, and Indian tennis player Somdev Devvarman. The University of Virginia has been home to several top soccer players throughout the years—several former UVA players have gone on to play for the United States men's national soccer team, including Tony Meola, Jeff Agoos, and former USA team captains Claudio Reyna and John Harkes. Nikki Krzysik went on to play soccer professionally in the WPS and NWSL.
Numerous political leaders have also attended the University of Virginia, including the 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, the 18th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter, U.S. Senator and 1968 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and his brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Janet Napolitano.
Many of Virginia's governors studied at the university, including Democrats Gerald L. Baliles, Chuck Robb, John N. Dalton, Albertis S. Harrison, Jr., James Lindsay Almond, Jr., John S. Battle, Colgate Darden, Elbert Lee Trinkle, Westmoreland Davis, Claude A. Swanson, Andrew Jackson Montague, and Frederick W. M. Holliday, and Republicans Jim Gilmore and George Allen.
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