University at the Head of its Class

In the last decade, the University of Virginia has become widely recognized as one of the country's most prestigious institutions. For the fourth year in a row, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University best of all the nation's public universities, ahead of Berkeley, Michigan, North Carolina, and UCLA, and twenty-first among all national universities. In separate listings, the magazine ranked graduate programs in creative writing fourth, the architecture school's master's program sixth, the School of Law eighth, and the Darden School eleventh.

This rise to eminence has clearly made its impression on many of the nation's brightest, most talented students, who place the University of Virginia high on their lists of college choices. Accordingly, the entering class of 2001 is the strongest in University history. Eighty percent of new students graduated in the highest tenth of their high school class, and four earned perfect scores on both the math and verbal sections of the SAT. The class includes the largest contingent of international students ever, with 115 undergraduates entering from such countries as Turkey, India, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom.

A Room With a View

In June 1826, just a few weeks before his death, Thomas Jefferson climbed the stairs to the Dome Room of the Rotunda for the last time to enjoy his favorite view of the University. A student brought Jefferson a chair, and he sat for an hour looking toward the mountains in the distance. More than 170 years later, the Dome Room remains the symbolic heart of the University.

This level of excellence is delivered more efficiently than at other institutions. U.S. News & World Report ranked the University ninth in the best value category, praising it for supplying an outstanding education at a reasonable cost. In a similar survey, Money magazine ranked the University twenty-third out of 1,115 four-year schools in its "best buy" category.

Realizing these achievements requires extensive coordination and planning. The University of Virginia is the size of a small city, with 18,000 students and 10,000 employees, including 1,800 full-time faculty. It occupies more than 10 million square feet in 570 buildings including classrooms, libraries, laboratories, concert halls, and museums, as well as a major academic medical center.

The generous contributions from alumni and friends generate the momentum for accomplishment and growth. In 1996-97, annual giving rose to an all-time high of $109 million, and the Campaign for the University passed the $500 million mark. These funds boosted the University's endowment to more than $1 billion by July, the fifth largest endowment of any public university in the nation.

The growth in sponsored research dollars has contributed to University resources. Government agencies and corporations have expressed their confidence in the quality and productivity of faculty work by boosting external funding to almost $160 million, a 13 percent increase over the previous year.

New technologies have streamlined the way we do business. This year the library abandoned paper notices in favor of an e-mail system. Prospective undergraduates applied to the University through the World Wide Web. The Curry School of Education introduced CaseNET, a series of Internet-based courses that colleges and schools around the world offer to students and teachers. The University embarked on a six-year project to replace its core administrative software applications with an integrated suite of client server-based applications. Video, voice, and data soon will be integrated on a single network. The University's participation in Internet 2 will facilitate the high-speed connections required for scientific research and distance learning.

Yet modern technology is at best a complement to inspired teaching. Accordingly, the provost's office set aside $100,000 for the Faculty Senate to identify and support innovative teaching initiatives. The project carries forward a year-long, University-wide conversation on teaching and implements recommendations on improving teaching that were developed during the University's self-study.

Landmarks of this outstanding year can be found in the varied activities and announcements that comprise the Milestones section that follows. Whether it is the steady succession of ground-breaking discoveries, the opening of new facilities, or the conferences that brought the nation's leading policymakers to the Grounds, the excitement and accomplishment of this past year at the University characterize higher education at its best.

Next


President's Report 1996-97 Contents

Financial Report 1996-1997