The University's founder was both visionary and pragmatic. With great confidence and ambition, Mr. Jefferson described the institution he created as "the future bulwark of the human mind in this hemisphere." At the same time, he grounded the curriculum in what he called the "useful sciences." He believed in teaching practical knowledge that ordinary citizens could use to organize and govern a Republic.
Our mission today is the same as Jefferson's. Both the bold vision and the sound pragmatism that he first articulated nearly 200 years ago guide our pursuit of excellence in a new global century of unprecedented opportunity. With our Virginia 2020 goals providing direction, and with rigorous academic planning now in progress to chart the University's course for the future, we are working to create centers of excellence in the fine and performing arts, to expand our international activities, to fulfill our obligations in service to the people of Virginia and the nation, and to create science and technology programs that rival the best in the nation and the world. This report documents recent progress in these and many other areas.
Our students continue to be our strongest asset, just as they continue to set new standards for achievement. During the 2005–06 academic year, University students received six Fulbright Scholarships, two Mitchell Scholarships, two Goldwater Scholarships, and one Truman Scholarship. Many stories of superb student performance appear in the pages of this report. These stories are singular examples of the broad excellence that defines the work of the young women and men who come here to learn.
In the year before classes began at the University, when Jefferson was seeking professors to fill faculty positions, he wrote that he was "anxious to receive none but of the highest grade." The University's eminence continues to depend upon the quality of its teachers. Among our faculty we count one Nobel Prize winner, three MacArthur fellows, and twenty-five fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences includes three University faculty members, the National Academy of Engineering includes twelve, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has inducted sixteen of our faculty. The teaching, scholarship, and research produced by our faculty influence many lives–undergraduate and graduate students, lifelong learners, and those who benefit directly from the fruits of their research.
We witnessed the dawn of a new era when the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act went into effect last summer. This landmark legislation establishes a framework for a new model in the financing and operation of public universities in Virginia. Within this framework, the University and the state's other public colleges and universities will have the ability to plan for the future and manage operations more efficiently. With these responsibilities come systems of accountability, as written into management agreements with the state. These management agreements are based on six-year operating plans involving financial, academic, and enrollment data.
Institutions that participate in the new framework must commit to increasing financial aid programs to keep tuition costs from becoming a barrier to access for students of lesser means. Through AccessUVa, the University has promised to meet 100 percent of the need of all undergraduate students who qualify for financial aid. In the past year, we signed a new agreement with the Virginia Community College System that guarantees admission, based on fulfillment of standard requirements, to graduates of Virginia's twenty-three community colleges. Coupled with AccessUVa, this agreement should attract students who may have thought previously that they could not qualify or that they could not afford to attend. In his Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, Jefferson wrote that education should be made available to the nation's citizens to equip them for leadership "without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance." With AccessUVa and with the VCCS agreement, we uphold that principle.
Diversity continues to be a signature trait of this University. In 2006, for the twelfth straight year, the University posted the highest six-year graduation rate for African-American students among major public institutions. In 2005–06, 54 percent of students were women, and 23 percent of total undergraduates were African American, Native American, Asian, or Hispanic. William B. Harvey joined us in 2005 as the University's first vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, and he has had an immediate and substantial impact on the culture here. Mr. Harvey is leading our efforts as we continue to create a welcoming and supportive environment for all who work, live, and study at the University.
As part of the 2020 initiative, the University made a commitment to expanding its international activities. We took a major step in that direction last year when the University partnered with the Institute for Shipboard Education to become the academic sponsor for Semester at Sea. Each year, during the fall and spring semesters, some 670 students from colleges and universities across the country will take an around-the-world voyage on the floating campus, the MV Explorer. A shorter trip with slightly fewer students is held during the summer session. Traveling on the MV Explorer will give students the opportunity to learn the languages and histories of other nations and to study the nuances that distinguish various cultures. These are important lessons in this age of global interdependence.
In an 1816 letter to John Adams, Jefferson wrote, "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." Dreams of the future guide our work as we generate strategies to sustain the University for tomorrow and beyond. The Board of Visitors has established a ten-year academic plan, using the six-year plan from the restructuring management agreement as foundation. This planning project addresses University-wide priorities and strategies, drawing from school-based planning, Virginia 2020, and emerging initiatives and interests across Grounds. I have appointed a Commission on the Future of the University, co-chaired by Leonard Sandridge and Tim Garson, to carry this planning work forward and to begin the process of implementation.
In September 2006, the Board of Visitors launched the University's new campaign, with one-third of the $3 billion goal already raised. The campaign theme, "Knowledge is Power," is derived from the words of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote about "the important truths, that knowledge is power, that knowledge is safety, and that knowledge is happiness." With this campaign, we will provide the best resources for the creation of our most important product: women and men of exceptional achievement who leave here as broadly knowledgeable citizens ready for effective engagement in public life.
As I look back on a year in which the University achieved new autonomy to chart its own course to excellence, the notion of freedom resonates in especially meaningful ways. With new-found momentum, we will continue to teach and produce useful knowledge in this place where Mr. Jefferson defined knowledge as the foundation of human liberty, in this institution that he based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind.
John. T. Casteen III