Sept. 17-23, 1999
The University of Virginia: A Pictorial History
"Slow Dance" almost halts U.Va. e-mail
Continuing Ed. preparing Va. teachers for SOL curricula
Property Accounting helps U.Va. stay eligible for grants

Ethicist urges hospitals to learn from their errors

Correction- wrong URL
U.Va. garners EPA's top national award
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"Notable" - faculty & staff
Architect Peter Waldman wins Rome Prize
Hot Links - Oracle of Bacon

Writer Wendell Berry to visit Sept. 22-25

Talk on Rehnquist Court to initiate lectures honoring Abraham


Foreword -- from U.Va. President John T. Casteen

The history of the University of Virginia is unique. Unlike the great schools of Europe, this university did not evolve slowly from religious houses, did not spring to life through royal charter or develop to serve the needs of a metropolitan or industrial center. It differs also from the well-known educational institutions of this country: the University is not a land grant college, or a private school founded by a great philanthropist, or a modern descendant of a colonial college for preachers or teachers. Instead, this place is the direct result of one manıs practical vision of education for the free citizens of a new democratic nation.

Even more clearly than his brilliant contemporaries, Thomas Jefferson saw the necessity to educate citizens, and he conceived that mission broadly. He believed that participatory government requires that the participants be educated, both in the "useful sciences" of the day and in the history of other systems of governance. To be wide practitioners of their rights, citizens of the new republic needed to be versed in their duties. To guard the young democracy against future "degeneracy" and the "indigence of the greater number," Jefferson wanted to create a means to cultivate natural leaders ("persons, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue") to be groomed as protectors of the rights of all. He intended his University to be the nurturer of these persons.

When we walk across the Grounds today, we may not appreciate how radical these ideas were in their time. We may not see ourselves as parts of the ongoing experiment of a genius. Perhaps we take comfort from the apparent age of the place and the beauty and variety of its architecture. Quite often we may fall back into an idea of tradition. For example, we may take for granted the notion of the university as a meritocracy, or assume the appropriateness of state support. We may find uncontroversial the idea that, on the whole, a public schoolıs mission is secular. We may be unamazed that undergraduates are allowed to choose their own courses of study.

Two hundred years ago these were not commonplace assumptions. They became so because of experiences here. The Jeffersonian design manifest in our bricks and values and practices now seems traditional only because it has proved itself over time and been adopted by most of American higher education. To forget its origin is to misunderstand this young and remarkably vital Academical Village.

The book you hold, astutely written by Susan Tyler Hitchcock and handsomely published through a unique partnership between our own University Bookstore and University Press, will help to explain and strengthen Thomas Jefferson's legacy as the creator of a great institution built on principles of free inquiry, honor and public service. The physical University is well represented. Many of these photographs are published here for the first time, thanks to the generosity of Special Collections at Alderman Library, the Alumni Association and many individual friends and alumni. To all involved with the production of this fine history, and to all its readers who care so deeply about the University that they choose to understand both its physical beauty and the irrepressible spirit that formed it, I am grateful.

John T. Casteen III
President of the University of Virginia


© Copyright 1999 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

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