Ayers: Why the university endures
Sabato receives Jefferson Award at Convocation
President John T. Casteen III (right) and Arts & Sciences
Dean Edward L. Ayers spoke at the Fall Convocation last Friday.
J. Sabato, the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Government
and Foreign Affairs at the University and one of its best-known
teachers and scholars, received U.Va.s highest honor, the
Thomas Jefferson Award, at Fall
Convocation ceremonies Oct. 26.
which marked the beginning of Family Weekend, also featured Edward
L. Ayers, dean of the College
of Arts & Sciences, who gave the keynote address, and
the conferring of intermediate honors on third-year students.
Thomas Jefferson Award honors a member of the University community
who exemplifies in character, work and influences the ideals of
his tremendous energy and passionate public-mindedness, the quality
of research and teaching at the University, and of political understanding
across the state and nation, would be poorer, said President
John T. Casteen III, reading from Sabatos award citation.
contributions to students, to his profession as a prolific and
and to the public as an incisive
and eminently sane political analyst all of these activities
have made him indispensable. He was also honored for his
quiet, behind-the-scenes efforts to help people.
the ceremony, Sabato said he was thrilled and grateful
to receive such a beautiful surprise. While the recipient
is not supposed to know about the honor until his or her name
is announced, Sabato said he had an inkling of what was happening.
mother doesnt usually pop up on a weekday morning from Norfolk,
Sabato has spent most of his adult life at U.Va. He majored in
government and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University in
1974 and became a Rhodes Scholar, receiving his doctorate in politics
from Oxford University. He taught there before returning to U.Va.
in 1978 to join the government faculty. Recently, he established
the Center for Governmental Studies and has also reached out to
Virginias middle and high school students through the centers
Youth Leadership Initiative.
is the author of many widely discussed books on national politics,
including Feeding Frenzy: How Attack Journalism Has Transformed
American Politics. He publishes a definitive annual series, Virginia
Votes, analyzing all statewide elections in detail. He has also
served on many national and state commissions, including the National
Commission for the Renewal of American Democracy and the U.S.
Senate Campaign Finance Reform Panel. In 1993 received the Outstanding
Professor Award from the State Council of Higher Education for
is so frequently quoted about politics in national news media
that he seems to be everywhere. We may even take him for
granted, like the air we breathe, Casteen said in presenting
the award. But in all that Sabato does, Casteen added, he
has illuminated issues that are at the heart of our ever-changing
49, said this award would not change his life. I have a
young staff and they are good at sticking pins in my head when
it gets too swelled, he said with a laugh.
Ayers, speaking at his first convocation since becoming dean of
the College of Arts & Sciences, talked about the university
as the most real place in the world.
Isnt it real to talk about the big questions, the
things usually swept under the rug, the things that matter and
endure for generation after generation? he asked.
He said the modern university, developed 900 years ago, has become
one of the most adaptable and enduring institutions anywhere.
in one culture after another have adopted the university and made
it their own. In fact, rather than a fragile ivory tower, the
university may be the single most successful, adaptable and useful
institution ever devised over the last thousand years, he
last, he said, because they embody curiosity, civility, tenacity,
patience and memory. They are also places where people think beyond
the obvious and standard, working out difficult questions with
privilege of teaching college students demands that we work hard
to stay ahead of and often catch up with the smart
and energetic people who come to us looking for the right questions,
if not always the full answers, he said.
his address, 644 intermediate honors were presented to third-year
students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.4 or better
at the end of their first two years.