Dec. 7-13, 2001
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Casteen reflects on the University's achievements and the national tragedy in his annual message

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Casteen reflects on the University’s achievements and the national tragedy in his annual message
President John T. Casteen III
Ian Bradshaw
U.Va. President John T. Casteen III on the steps of Madison Hall

Our common experience of Sept. 11 and events since have made this one of the most difficult annual letters to compose in the past 12 years. I have been tempted to write primarily about how the University community reacted in the aftermath. But thinking about what I owe you by way of an accounting of the year’s work and our University’s condition, I have realized that the debt is something more than a summary of the most recent months. So let me begin by outlining developments that involve the University generally, and say that by any standard, this has been a red-letter year.
This is an excerpt from U.Va. President John T. Casteen III’s annual letter to alumni.

November 2001

December 2000 saw the formal end of the capital campaign that enabled the University to build new and already well-recognized academic strengths despite the state budget cuts of the early ’90s. One of the largest and most successful efforts of its kind undertaken in any American university, this campaign generated substantial sums for improvements in academic programs, buildings, endowments and scholarships. The final total exceeded $1.43 billion. This alone is great news. What may prove even more valuable is the discovery of a vast network of women and men — volunteers who are alumni, friends, faculty members, and students and their parents — who are now taking responsibility for envisioning, planning and building the University of the future.

A wealth of evidence demonstrates the University’s and the hospital and clinics’ continuing excellence. This year, U.S. News & World Report ranks us second among public universities behind California at Berkeley, with which we have played tag for several years. In separate national assessments, both the Medical Center as a whole and eight of its departments were ranked among the nation’s top 100.
This has been a banner year for recognition of the quality of faculty work. Funded research now exceeds $225 million, eloquent evidence of the high esteem of the national selection committees and review boards that award research support. Brooks Pate, a young faculty member in chemistry and a 1987 alumnus of the College, won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in October — an award that matters both for what it says about Brooks’ pioneering work in sub-molecular structures and for what it says about the quality of scientists among the faculty.

To round out this summary of the year’s high points: In collaboration with the College Foundation, the Board of Visitors recently committed to replacing New Cabell Hall on its current site, and to developing a major new College building (and affiliated parking garage) to be built across Jefferson Park Avenue from the eventual new New Cabell Hall. At the same time, the Board approved the renovation of Cocke and Rouss halls.

The new arena project, which will replace University Hall, continues to move forward on time and on track. With two commitments of $20 million each and a growing number of other gifts of support, the facility is in the middle stages of design.

Other major projects in advanced planning or construction include research and teaching facilities for the Medical School, major Engineering buildings related to the VA 2020 science and technology initiatives, a rebuilt baseball stadium, buildings for the VA 2020 fine and performing arts initiatives, and new buildings in both the North Fork and the Fontaine research parks. Most of these projects have been privately financed, but several have attracted state support. These include the Small Library and the Harrison Institute, which comprise the new special collections library (financed by mixed funding); a new student dining hall to replace Observatory Hill (student fees); a five-story addition to the School of Nursing’s McLeod Hall (mixed funding); and the final phase of expansion of Clark Hall for Environmental Sciences and an expanded science-technology library (mixed funding).

My previous letters have included general summaries of faculty achievements, and this year there are many to report. It seemed to me, however, that in light of Sept. 11, you may have special interest in current faculty work that has figured in the national response to terrorism.

Some names are well known for their work as consultants for governmental agencies, commentators for the media and faculty members engaged on a daily basis with students. Others are known for having taken significant roles in protecting the national information infrastructure against cyber-terrorism, in providing expert medical and scientific advice as the government has moved to counter bio-terrorism, and in interpreting the complex cultural, religious and ethnic challenges that confront shapers of diplomacy and military strategy.

William B. Quandt (Government and Foreign Affairs), vice provost for international affairs, formerly a member of the National Security Council and an active figure in shaping the Camp David accords of 1978;

Ruhi K. Ramazani (Government and Foreign Affairs emeritus), a widely recognized expert on Middle East politics who contributed to the negotiations to release the U.S. hostages held in Iran between November 1979 and January 1981, and who consults regularly on U.S. policy in the Middle East and the U.S. interest in the security of the Persian Gulf;

W. Nathaniel Howell (Institute for Global Policy Research), the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait who remained at his post in Kuwait City while it was under siege during the Iraqi invasion that preceded Desert Storm in 1990;

Philip Zelikow (Miller Center of Public Affairs and History), now serving on President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board;

John Norton Moore (Law and Center for National Security Law), formerly board chair of the U.S. Institute of Peace and principal U.N. advisor in the determination of the post-war Kuwait-Iraqi border, and expert on the legal aspects of foreign policy, national security, and war and treaty powers.

Anita Jones (University Professor and Computer Science), an expert on the security of computer infrastructures and former head of research and development at the Department of Defense and current vice chair of the National Science Board — as well as a principal shaper of our own VA 2020 science and technology initiatives;

Lawrence E. Adams (Critical Incident Analysis Group), an expert on how religion and politics influence political responses to national crises and research director of a consortium of scholars, law enforcement officials and professionals who seek to analyze, anticipate, prevent and mitigate critical incidents;

Yacov Y. Haimes (Systems Engineering and Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems), who studies cyber-terrorism and the interconnectedness and interdependency of infrastructures;

Abdulaziz Sachedina (Religious Studies), an expert on Shiite Islam, Islamic extremists, the concept of holy war, and on Middle Eastern politics;

Peter Sheras (Education), a clinical psychologist whose adolescent stress index is a basic tool for addressing the impact of violence on young people;

Robert I. Webb (McIntire School), an expert on futures markets and a former financial futures and options trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange who has served as senior financial economist at the White House.

Finally, a group of faculty members whose work bears directly on steps now being taken to build domestic security and improve preparedness.

Gabriel Laufer (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), working with Avir, a local start-up company, to develop a chemical weapons detector, the size of a cell phone, to pick up traces of lethal nerve gases;

Pamela Norris (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), working with Veridian Systems on biological warfare sensors, including a “smart aerogel” to identify bacteria and viruses such as anthrax and small pox;

Ronald Taylor (Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics in the School of Medicine), pursuing treatment of infectious diseases with specially sensitized red blood cells with the goal of clearing especially virulent pathogens from the bloodstream.

In the attacks of that day none were spared grief — for the deaths of those unknown to us and those dear to us. Five alumni, the parents of two current students, and friends and families of many members of the University community died on Sept. 11. So within the apparent continuity of life here, the mood is different, and many display a powerful new sense of common purpose.

A university like ours exists at the junction between the individual and society where it shapes and serves both. In the hours and days immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, faculty and students organized teach-ins on many issues, including the Middle East. A particularly powerful one occurred after dark on Sept. 12 at the foot of the Lawn, where some 2,500 gathered. Like many other communities, we created a memorial to those who had died. Students from the School of Architecture designed a place near Memorial Gymnasium where we could attach tributes to those who were lost.

Students stop me on my walks to say how fortunate and sometimes how innocent they were prior to the attacks. They understand that no one, no human being and no institution, can be fully prepared for so massive and vicious an assault, but they understand with sudden clarity Mr. Jefferson’s intent to educate them to be strong, free people.

Today, as the nation has begun to learn new habits of diligence, the University, like America, is resuming its daily life. Other more ordinary events have lately asserted pride of place in our attention. The state’s budget crisis — Virginia is experiencing a $1 billion shortfall in state revenue collections — has added a note of financial uncertainty to the political uncertainty. Still, our University, like our republic, was founded on optimistic faith in the ability of free people and democratic institutions to set things right. What we do here confirms the durability and continuity of that faith.


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