technology mix at Fall Convocation
hung warmly in the Indian summer air Oct. 13 as the University
celebrated Fall Convocation.
The historic Lawn, an academic procession, messages from two secret
societies and a remembrance of the many contributions of retiring
Senior Vice President Ernest H. Ern lent a retrospective feel
to the afternoon ceremony, in which intermediate honors were bestowed
upon some 742 third-year students and David T. Gies won the Thomas
Jefferson Award (see David Gies honored with Thomas Jefferson
But as falling yellow leaves softly pelted students, faculty and
guests, there was also a clarion call to a high-tech future from
keynote speaker Anita K. Jones, University Professor and Lawrence
R. Quarles Professor of Engineering and Applied Science.
is an era in which technology, science and engineering, have come
to the fore," said Jones, who chairs the Virginia
2020 Commission on Science and Technology. The commission
recently released its final report, calling for up to $800 million
in new investments in science and technology by 2020.
work being done at universities nationwide is pushing the technology
boom, she said, but U.Va. has lagged in those areas. "It
is appropriate and necessary to raise science and engineering
at the University to be on a par with the humanities," she
said, later declaring, "Today, a person is not considered
educated unless they are literate in science and technology."
illustrate her point, she referred to several recent local and
national news stories, all of which posed scientific or technological
questions: possible water contamination at the Ivy Landfill, remote
traffic surveillance at intersections, credit-card privacy on
the Internet, and a couple's genetic selection of a baby to provide
future stem-cell transplants for an ailing older sibling.
"I think this is ample documentation that citizens of this
country or any other -- particularly our students -- must have
enough technical literacy to make these decisions,² she said.
the University's science and technology across the board would
be prohibitively expensive, Jones said, so her commission identified
several priorities in areas of existing strength: information
technology, quantum and nanoscale science and engineering, and
are areas in which our classic disciplines are poised to explode,"
she said. "We have critical mass in those areas."
University "is at a cusp of time," she said. It has
the capability of becoming a leader in these fields, given ample
resources. But failure to invest wisely, she said, could be disastrous.
strengthening, I believe this University will become inadequate
or second-rate in the future," she warned.
President John T. Casteen III departed from the program to pay
tribute to Ern, who was attending his final University-wide ceremony
before his scheduled retirement in December -- "A retirement,"
Casteen said, "that is hard for many of us to comprehend.
Like the Lawn and the pavilions and the Rotunda, we thought he
would be here forever."
his more than 30 years at the University, Ernie Ern "touched
in some way every significant initiative that has occurred here,"
Casteen said. He helped plan for the admission of women to the
College of Arts and Sciences in 1970, and establish the Office
of Minority Affairs in 1976. He was a member of the committee
that implemented recommendations of the Corrigan Report on academics
and athletics in 1978 and 1979, and made the decision to end Easters
Weekend in 1982. He helped kick off the Campaign for the University
in 1995, and has served on several important search committees.
More recently, he was a member of the Board of Visitors' special
committee that examined affirmative action in admissions last
received an extended standing ovation.