Sept. 12-25, 2003
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New welcome mat rolled out for graduate students

Casteen appoints three new vice provosts
Gomez sees blend of knowledge as key
Students’ voices add drama to diversity program
Valerie Gregory: Networking builds diversity
A new model: Architecture School combines disciplines
Book, program get children off to a great start in school
‘Roads Taken’ exhibit: 20th-century prints and drawings from museum’s collection
Tuesday Evening Concert Series opens season
Cyclist pushes her limits
New welcome mat rolled out for graduate students
resource fair for graduate students
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
Associate Dean of African-American Affairs Sylvia Terry (far left) assists U.Va. graduate students during a resource fair Aug. 26. The event was part of the first-ever University-wide graduate student orientation

By Matt Kelly

Orientation became family day Aug. 26 as children sat in strollers and crawled on the floor of Newcomb Hall Ballroom while their parents — newly arrived graduate and professional students — gathered information about local services at a resource fair.

“This is the first thing we’ve been to, and it’s been very helpful and convenient,” said law student Jonathan Cannon, who carried his 17-month-old daughter, Bryn, on his arm.

Though schools and departments have traditionally conducted their own graduate-student orientation, this marks the first year the University has offered an institution-wide orientation specifically geared toward graduate and professional students. The orientation provided information on child care, spouses’ employment and financial aid issues, as well as receptions to meet other graduate students.

The ballroom was abuzz as students and their families moved from station to station, registering to vote, filling out motor vehicle paperwork and collecting information about University services and activities.

“I thought it was useful to get all the paperwork in one place,” said Sophia Coudenhove, wife of first-year law student Jeremy Weinberg. “I’m trying to get a driver’s license and it’s nice not to have to go to the DMV.”

Organizer Laurie D. Casteen, a graduate student and assistant director of the Office of Orientation and New Student Programs, was happy with the turnout.
“There has been a steady stream since the doors opened,” she said. “The DMV had a ton of people picking up forms and ITC had nonstop traffic.”

Graduate student orientation opened Aug. 25 with University President John T. Casteen III and other University officials welcoming about 130 graduate students during a short session in Old Cabell Hall. He offered a brief history of the University and how Thomas Jefferson’s devotion to “useful science” played a role in creating the curriculum.

Casteen also cited a darker side of U.Va.’s history — the struggle to admit women
and blacks.

“If you come from another state or another country, let me emphasize that the struggle to open the University, the legal struggles, the personal struggles involved in those lawsuits, have a fundamental place in the history of this institution and also the history of American education,” he said.

Casteen urged the students to be serious about their time at the University.

“My sense of graduate education is that it reflects a decision you made about the life you want to lead and the type of person you want to be, and I can’t imagine a half-hearted way to do that,” he said. “So I urge you to throw yourself into it heart and soul.”

Following Casteen, R. Ariel Gomez, vice president for research and graduate studies, spoke about research opportunities at U.Va.

“The way of life you have chosen is to become a discoverer of knowledge, a generator of new knowledge,” Gomez said. “In doing so, you become a continuing learner. A researcher is a student who cannot find the answers in a book, so he has to discover it for himself — and in doing so, creates new knowledge.”

Lee Hark, a fourth-year doctoral student at the Curry School of Education, said he wished the general orientation had been in place when he started his graduate work.

“I think it is important to hear from the president that we are welcome and valued,” he said.


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