|Ensuring Openness and Civility
Our growing diversity is a tremendous source of strength even as it raises new challenges. A climate of inclusiveness and civility is vital to our progress, and we are unwavering in our conviction that upholding human dignity and mutual respect is a responsibility shared by all students, faculty, and staff on Grounds.
Faced by a string of racially charged incidents, including an assault on a candidate for Student Council president, we have launched intensive efforts to examine our social and academic environment and to understand how diverse members of our community define the University experience. The Board of Visitors established a special committee on diversity to focus on the policy issues that relate to the University's climate and culture. President Casteen also has convened a Commission on Diversity and Equity. Under the leadership of Angela Davis, associate dean of students, and Michael Smith, the Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of Political and Social Thought, the commission will pinpoint inadequacies in University programming and will identify best practices, here and at other institutions, that address the needs of under-represented populations. The commission will issue its final report in 2004.
|"We have an amazing opportunity to begin to change here and now at U.Va. Our openness and candor on the issues that currently challenge us will speak volumes on behalf of our sincerity and subsequent progress. ...This is the story of our University undergoing change and learning how to weave diversity into its everyday fabric."
— Daisy Lundy (McIntire,
'05), Student Council President
Students and faculty are already taking steps to make appreciation of diversity a core value at the University. Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil to call attention to diversity issues. Growing numbers of students have enrolled in classes on multiculturalism, and the University Guide Service developed a tour titled "From Slave to Scholar: The History of African Americans at U.Va.," which was introduced during African-American Heritage Month. Paul Gaston, professor emeritus of history, has raised awareness of the historical context of our present initiatives. In an article written for Inside UVA, the faculty and staff newspaper, he helped us look unflinchingly at our past to understand why our current efforts are so important. His article can be found at www.virginia.edu/uvadiversity/, a new Web site that serves as a central repository of information on our quest to create a fair and equitable community.
A Lifetime of Public Service
Students who attend the University are the recipients of great gifts, and we strive to instill in them an obligation to use these gifts for the common good. In the Engineering School, the new Washington Internship Program gives students firsthand knowledge of the shaping of public policy, especially as it relates to science and technology. The Law School has added two new clinics, "Advocacy for the Elderly" and "International Human Rights Law," to its public service offerings. Participants gain hands-on experience in these areas while being supervised by practicing attorneys.
The success of these programs-and the popularity of activities such as Madison House, which provides 115,000 hours of volunteer service each year, is one reason the University has achieved a first-place ranking among mid-sized colleges and universities in providing Peace Corps volunteers. Over the years, some 730 Virginia graduates have joined the Peace Corps, including more than sixty current members.