Aug. 25-31, 2000
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Summer bears new funding fruits

By Rebecca Arrington and Anne Bromley

In case you were gone over the summer, here is the Inside U.Va. news-in-a-nutshell on significant changes from the past three months. After each item listed here, the issue date is given. For complete articles, see Inside UVA Online backissues.

Board of Visitors actions

U.Va.'s Board of Visitors approved an endowment payout of almost $14 million at its June meeting, an increase of 30 percent, which will be made available to the deans. The University usually increases the endowment distribution by 4 percent annually.

The board approved a $1.26 billion budget for 2000-01. In addition, the board authorized up to $3 million to be used for Medical Center personnel initiatives. (June 23, July 7)

Major gifts boost Arts & Sciences

Internet businessman and University alumnus U. Bertram Ellis Jr., chair and chief executive officer of Atlanta-based iXL Enterprises, and his wife Deborah Hicks Ellis have given $10 million to the University, to be divided between Bert Ellis' two schools, Arts & Sciences and Darden. U.Va. President John T. Casteen III announced the unrestricted gift during Reunions Weekend June 3 and 4. (June 9)

An anonymous alumnus, who was in Casteen's class of 1965, gave $2 million to Arts & Sciences the same weekend. The gift will create a professorship in English and an unrestricted fund for the dean of Arts & Sciences. (June 9)

Another anonymous benefactor has given the School of Nursing its largest-ever outright gift, $1 million, to endow the new Centennial Distinguished Professorship in Pediatric Nursing, which the board approved at its June meeting. (July 7)

The Anheuser-Busch Foundation has donated $1.2 million to the Department of Environmental Sciences to establish the Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center. The department will build the $2.5 million, state-of-the-art facility to enhance its current research capabilities on the Eastern Shore.

The facility is the base for the National Science Foundation's Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research project. NSF provides more than $700,000 per year to U.Va. scientists for research at the LTER. (July 21)

More recently, the U.Va. Medical School Foundation received a $3.5 million bequest for cancer research and education from Florence Farrow of New York City, who died in February 1999 at age 93. The widow of U.Va. alumnus Joseph Helms Farrow (A&S '26, medicine '30), her gift will complete the Joseph Helms Farrow Professorship in Surgical Oncology, establish a fund in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library for cancer-related materials and create a cancer research fund for fellowships. (Aug. 18)

Many of Thomas Jefferson's letters have long been available to the public in the University Library's Special Collections Department. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late philanthropist and collector Paul Mellon, library-goers have access to a trove of Virginiana and Americana -- including Jefferson's most-quoted letter on slavery -- recently dispersed from Mellon's estate to the University and two other institutions. U.Va. received approximately 400 of the 1,700 items, making the University's Jefferson collection, at approximately 4,800 items, the third-largest in the world, said Michael Plunkett, director of Special Collections. (June 23)

Research breakthrough

Health System researchers David Allis and Mitchell Smith, along with two colleagues at other institutions, made two key discoveries about cell division. Their findings, which may offer new treatment targets for some cancers, were published in the early August issues of Cell and Nature. The research involves enzymes that play an important role in cell division by altering histones, an important group of proteins found in each cell's nucleus.

"DNA is the mission control of our cells, but how our genetic template knows what to do, how to replicate and divide faithfully to each daughter cell, has been a long-standing mystery. With these and other recent discoveries, we have begun to identify controllers for specific parts of the cell cycle," said Allis. (Aug. 18)

Buildings and Grounds

A four-story, 45,000-square-foot addition to the U.Va. Department of Environmental Sciences broke ground in July. The project will provide much-needed laboratory and computational space for the department and the Science and Engineering Library. In addition, existing portions of Clark Hall are being renovated with state funds. (July 21)

Several projects on the Lawn will alter foot traffic until October. The marble balustrade on the southwest corner of the Rotunda terrace is being removed and cleaned. While this is taking place, the drainage system on the terrace will be improved and new granite blocks installed. The entire balustrade will eventually be removed and cleaned, one quadrant at a time. (July 7)

A ramp is presently being constructed on the west side of the Rotunda steps where an ivy bed was located. It will conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide better access between the Rotunda and the Lawn.

A new irrigation system is being installed on the Lawn to replace the existing system, which is inefficient and damaging. The older system does not account for weather changes and is not designed for foot traffic. The new system, fully automated with computer-controlled monitoring, eliminates labor and excess watering while producing lush green grass in an environmentally friendly and cost-conscious program.

USEM fellows chosen

Two U.Va. professors have received the University's first Storrs and Shaughnessy University Seminars Sabbatical Fellowships, named for two University alumni who have strongly supported the USEM program.

Farzaneh Milani, associate professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Culture and of Women's Studies, will work on a book titled Remapping the Cultural Geography of Iran: Woman, Mobility, and Space. She will receive the Storrs Fellowship, named for Thomas I. Storrs of Charlotte, N.C.

Sarah Farrell, assistant professor of nursing, will work on a research effort titled "Mental Health Technology Intervention Project for Rural Under-served in Primary Care." She will hold the Shaughnessy Fellowship, which encourages work on innovative uses of new technologies and is named for Dennis J. Shaughnessy of Baltimore.

The two competitive fellowships, granting a semester's research leave at full pay, are open to faculty members who have taught in the University Seminars program, which features leading professors in small, intensive classes designed to promote critical-thinking skills for first-year students. (June 9)



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