Foreword -- from U.Va.
President John T. Casteen
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
T. Casteen III
of the University of Virginia