Report of the President

John T. Casteen, III


he University of Virginia has reached a remarkable stage in its development. One hundred and seventy years after the first students took up residence on the Lawn, it is recognized as one of the strongest public universities in the country. Thomas Jefferson's guiding presence is as influential now as it ever has been. The unique educational values that are Mr. Jefferson's legacy have been the key to the Univer-sity's success.

Virginia's decision to cut appropriations for its public colleges and universities during the last decade has had unexpected benefits. Increasingly dependent on our own energies and resources, faculty and students, alumni and friends, have revitalized the original conception of the University. In records of the past, they have found superb blueprints for educational excellence in the twenty-first century. In response to today's and tomorrow's issues, they have discovered new aspirations and new designs for the future.

This report documents progress of many kinds, but most notably the progress of the faculty, who are the heart of the enterprise. Despite hard financial realities, faculty members in a score of fields are expanding the boundaries of knowledge, making discoveries, and applying their skills in ways that enrich and improve the lives of people around the world. Constitutional scholar Dick Howard is playing a critical role in helping nations of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union establish democratic governments. Outcomes evaluation and health services research conducted by Dr. William Knaus and Dr. Alfred Connors save lives and money by subjecting assumptions about the efficacy of medical procedures to rigorous tests. And alumna Kathryn Thornton returns to the University as a faculty member after more than a decade of broadening our understanding of the universe as a NASA astronaut.

To strengthen the close connections between faculty and students that distinguish this University, faculty members have pioneered new uses of educational technology. Use of electronic mail, for example, is expanding the ways that students interact with one another and with faculty. The Curry School of Education was cited by President Bill Clinton this year as a model in educational uses of high-technology.

Sustaining this superb faculty is a major issue at this time. The reaccreditation team of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which visited the University last January, reminded us that adequate faculty salaries are crucial to the University's future. New funds allocated by Virginia's General Assembly may allow us to move faculty salaries toward the 60th percentile nationally over the next few years, but they will not fully repair the damage done by state funding cuts since 1990. Only rigorous growth in private support will do that job. Some eighty faculty members received onetime bonuses for outstanding achievement this year. The bonuses are a gift of University benefactor and alumnus David Harrison of Hopewell.

Under the leadership of Leonard Sandridge, the support staff has dealt effectively with decreases in state and federal support, taking every opportunity to streamline operations and apply contemporary management techniques. The savings achieved from restructuring the University's support functions continue to be reallocated to educational programs. In an institution with a budget of nearly $1 billion, ten thousand employees, and eighteen thousand students, this is a massive undertaking and an admirable accomplishment.

Alumni and friends are full partners in the remarkable renaissance on the Grounds. This year, the Campaign for the University of Virginia attracted more
The unique educational values that are Mr. Jefferson's legacy have been the key to the University's success.
than $104 million in private support, a 33 percent increase over last year's donations. By September 1996, the campaign total had climbed to some $460 million toward the $750 million goal.

Even more significant than these extraordinary amounts is the breadth of support they represent. In my travels around the country this year to visit alumni and to inaugurate the regional campaigns, I have seen again and again the depth of affection that the University evokes. Last year, 49,000 contributors -- alumni, parents, friends, corporations, and foundations -- made financial commitments to the University.

During the last one hundred and seventy years, the University of Virginia has shaped the lives of tens of thousands of women and men. In the process, it has strengthened the nation. We are determined that the University will continue to do so, and intend that its future will be in every sense worthy of its past.

Sincerely,

John T. Casteen, III

John T. Casteen, III
President


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