Ern to bow out with the year 2000
people have become as beloved in the University community as Ernest
H. Ern, whose retirement "is hard for many of us to comprehend,"
said President John T. Casteen III at Fall Convocation in October.
"Like the Lawn and the pavilions and the Rotunda, we thought
he would be here forever."
Ern came to U.Va. almost 40 years ago, the student enrollment
was under 5,000. Over his term as vice
president of student affairs, that number doubled. When Ern
retires in the coming weeks, he leaves a student population of
more than 18,000.
"But it's remarkable how the basic fabric of the University has
remained strong," he said.
job has had its own delights and its own challenges, said Ern,
a geologist who joined the environmental sciences department in
1961, was dean of admissions from '67 to '73, then served as vice
president for student affairs for 20 years, and was named senior
vice president and University Professor in 1993. He has devoted
much of the last seven years to working on the Campaign for the
all of these roles, he focused his efforts upon students and enhancing
student life. "Our students are talented and capable. You can
turn them loose on projects," said Ern, who has lived on the Lawn
for 12 years.
he and his wife, Petie, took up residence in Pavilion X, "it took
about 20 minutes to get acclimated," Ern likes to tell people.
"It's been a life-modifying experience to become part of this
community. We keep an open-door policy. It's a true village experience
that extends your family," said the father of two grown children
and five grandchildren.
Ern was interested in the admissions job because he wanted to
be involved in the efforts to bring in coeducation and affirmative
action. He took on the challenges of enhancing student life as
their numbers doubled, and he has found his recent work with alumni
devotion of our alumni is unparalleled," Ern said.
support has helped the University reach a new level of excellence.
To maintain it, U.Va. "has to continue to be innovative and creative"
to successfully attract and retain talented students, competing
with the top private schools, he said.
plans to shift his creativity to some of his many hobbies: he
said he'd like to spend more time gardening and working on antique
and classic cars. "I don't plan on slowing down too much, and
am truly excited about the next chapter."