April 27-May 3, 2001
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President John T. Casteen III

People at core of realizing the vision
Casteen rallies U.Va. community to work toward future excellence

By Anne Bromley

President John T. Casteen III reminded members of the U.Va. Community at his State of the University address April 18 that the primary reason for the fundraising of the past decade and the Virginia 2020 planning efforts is to support the University’s human capital, its most precious asset.

“When all is said and done, and we’ve looked at the numbers and considered the progress and talked about the challenges, the University’s most important investment is not in its buildings, not in its history or its Grounds … or its stadium. The investment is in students and in faculty and in staff,” he told an audience of several hundred.

He recounted a Chinese proverb: “If you are planning for one year, grow rice. If you are planning for 20 years, grow trees. If you are planning for centuries, grow people,” saying the University’s purpose is the latter — to grow people.

Casteen reaffirmed the commitments binding together the members of the University community: “I think the commitment made is that what has been done in the last decade is simply the foundation for what we will do in the next three or four decades. The purpose is large and we understand the obstacles are serious, but the obstacles are simply not going to stop what we have begun.”

During his talk, Casteen reinforced the University’s programs, as well as function as a resource generator for Virginia 2020 initiatives, and eventually other projects.

“This entity is committed specifically to seeing that our fundraising purposes and accomplishments are tightly tied to the academic vision that we try to build with these strategic plans that we develop,” he said.

Virginia 2020 projects

In addition, Casteen also reported on some key Virginia 2020 projects that are already under way.

• Edward L. Ayers, the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History, is working to establish a Center for American Studies, a recommendation from the International Activities Commission. “Its goal is to make the University of Virginia the worldwide center for American Studies and to bring to this institution scholars from abroad to work with American scholars on issues of common interest having to do with the development, the role and the culture of the United States,” Casteen said.

• Another international project, based primarily in the School of Medicine, is the new Center for Global Health. Dr. Richard Guerrant, the head of the Division of Geographic and International Medicine, [ID WHAT HE’S DOING] has proposed this interdisciplinary center to study diseases that are common to countries in which poverty is a major factor.

• William Quandt, vice provost for international affairs, is working on setting up international exchange programs in Lyon, France, and several cities in Russia that would be multidisciplinary and involve both instruction and research.

• The ongoing Outreach Virginia Web site, which links to electronic resources, part-time educational opportunities, health care screenings, seminars and other programs, lists more than 300 of the University’s programs and is working to extend knowledge of these efforts around the state.

• The Center for Nanoscopic Materials Design has already received $5 million from the National Science Foundation. Casteen said “that one of the pending proposals in the governor’s budget bill is for the state to provide the entire cost of a nanoscale design building for the School of Engineering and Applied Science.”

Funding strategies

The University needs to determine some different funding strategies to support some of these initiatives, by reallocating central funds and combining private fundraising with debt service.
“I am optimistic that either we will see a major bond initiative from the state, or that we will gain the capacity to do business as business is done, or both,” Casteen said. “And for that reason, I do not [think we] face the prospect of failure with regard to the science initiatives. Instead I think what we face is the need to figure out, as we did a decade ago, another way to do what has to be done.”

To read the full text of the State of the University address, see http://www.virginia.edu/president


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of the University of Virginia

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