Building an Intellectual Community

Former Governor Baliles, shown with Larry Sabato, government professor; Sharon Horvath, artist-in-residence; Alan K. Simpson, former U.S. Senator, shown with President Casteen, clockwise from above.

As the University grows larger and more diverse, realizing Jefferson's vision of a community united and invigorated by its intellectual pursuits has become increasingly complex. With more than 20,000 students and faculty, the simple proximity and common origins of an earlier time no longer ensure a viable Academical Village. Faculty, students, and staff more actively seek out ways to promote artistic and intellectual expression on Grounds and to use these occasions to build a community dedicated to the life of the mind.

This year, the Faculty Senate made revitalizing the intellectual life of the University its most important priority. With the Senate's encouragement, the dean of the College funded a series of workshops that brought together students and faculty from different disciplines, while leaders of the Echols Scholars Program created new faculty-student forums to encourage ongoing dialogue. The University has also created a series of indoor and outdoor spaces for faculty and students to continue conversations begun in the classroom. The most novel of these is a café in the lobby of Alderman Library. The library's café creates a convenient meeting place in one of the most important academic buildings on Grounds. In addition, the University is planning a summer orientation program to place intellectual, cultural, and civic pursuits squarely at the forefront of academic life.

Creating Common Ground

As part of its effort to highlight the importance of intellectual community,

U.Va. commemmorates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a ceremony on-Grounds with M. Rick Turner, dean of African-American Affairs and William H. Gray, president of the United Negro College Fund.

the University brought leaders from a number of fields to the Grounds. Lawrence S. Eagleburger, former secretary of state under President Bush, received the Burkett Miller Presidential Award, while former U.S. senator Alan K. Simpson received the Thomas Jefferson Award in Law at ceremonies on Founder's Day. Professor Larry Sabato hosted a conference honoring Mills Godwin that attracted state politicians, including former governor Gerald Baliles. In the humanities, this year's artist-in-residence, Sharon Horvath, was the past recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and the prestigious Rome Prize.

Honoring Our History

To move forward, an institution must know its own history. As part of its planning for the new century, the University is taking a number of steps to uncover and understand its past. In some cases, this process is literal. Archaeologists have begun to dig in Poe Alley behind Pavilion VII to search for the original paving that Jefferson used. They hope to find artifacts that will shed light on how professors and students lived on the Lawn in the early years of the University.

At the same time, the University is planning to extend Jefferson's Academical Village to the North and Central Grounds, while increasing ease of travel and access between the Lawn and these new clusters of academic activity. The University has received federal funds to complete a pedestrian and light transit bridge across Emmet Street near University Hall. The bridge is to be the centerpiece of the Groundswalk, a University-wide effort to knit the University more closely together and to promote walking, biking and lightweight bus transit.

Convening the Peace Makers

If there are heroes today, they are our Nobel Peace Laureates, men and women who have risked their lives to promote peace and human rights around the world. This year, the University was the scene of an historic assembly of Nobel Peace Prize recipients who met for a two-day conference on Human Rights, Confiict, and Reconciliation in November.

Guests, shown left, included Harn Yawnghwe, representing Nobel recipient Aung San Suu Kyi who is currently under house arrest in Burma; Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor; Jody Williams of the United States; His Holiness the Dalai Lama; former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias Sanchez; Bobby Muller of the United States; Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala; Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa; and Betty Williams of Northern Ireland.

Conference participants spoke before overflow crowds at Old Cabell Auditorium, while other members of the University community watched live webcasts on their computers. The Nobel Laureates met with students at sessions both days.

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