CHARTING DIVERSITY: Commitment, Honor, Challenge

The last three decades have witnessed dramatic changes in the University of Virginia community. Created explicitly to educate citizens to sustain freedom and democracy, the University of Virginia had for almost 150 years fully welcomed only white males, in Jefferson’s phrase, to come and “drink of the cup of knowledge...” It was not until 1967 that the University began to fully admit African-American males as undergraduates and four years later that women were admitted on an equal basis. These two milestones marked the beginning of an effort to align the culture of this University with its core values.

The University of Virginia is today more representative of American society, but the task of transformation is still incomplete. While we have become far more diverse in appearance, we are not yet culturally inclusive. At the same time, many of the methods we have used to promote diversity have been called into question. Our task now is to protect the gains that have brought us this far, to renew and refocus our efforts to create a truly diverse academic community, and to develop effective legal and educational methods to carry out these objectives.

University President John T. Casteen, III has called diversity “the most idealistic and most essential mission in all of American education.” The actions that we take over the coming year will have lasting impact on how we fulfill this mission.

At the President’s request, we are convening this symposium and workshop: Charting Diversity: Commitment, Honor, Challenge on February 18-19, 2000, to launch a year of self-examination and reflection. We are charged with deepening our understanding of the significance of diversity in the context of this University and devising a plan of action that will enable us to realize and sustain diversity in all of our activities. Accordingly, we have invited leaders from other institutions to join leaders from our own institution so that we can learn from their experiences and perspectives as we chart our own course for the future.

Feb. 17, 2000: University to Create Women's Leadership Council

All Symposium events will be interpreted for the Deaf (Sign Language).