The University has, from its earliest days, sought to educate young people in what Thomas Jefferson called the "useful sciences" — the knowledge and skills needed to ensure the health of democracy and govern a new republic. This view of education remains the defining characteristic of the University. The useful sciences are keeping pace with changes in technology, theories, and practices and continue to guide the educational experience at U.Va.
Students attending the University are better prepared academically than ever before, typically entering with a semester or more of advanced placement credit.
Entering professional school students often have experience in the working world. The School of Law's Class of 2011 reflects both these trends.
The class had the best median Law School Admissions Test score (170) and grade point average (3.80)
of any entering Law School
class at U.Va. At the same time, students have lived and worked in forty-four countries and have pursued a range of careers from presidential speechwriter to assistant to Maya Angelou.
Cover and inside illustrations by S. Zalshupin
Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Translation by Vladimir Nabokov, 1923
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia Library
U.Va. students quickly develop a sophisticated understanding of the nature of knowledge. They see it as something not just to be received but examined and incorporated into their view of the world. The University prepares these students to make meaningful contributions as citizens.
Majoring in Public Service
U.Va. students are distinguished by their commitment to public service. They enter the University eager to contribute and ready to make a difference. The University, in response, offers opportunities and instruction that help students develop their ethical and civic commitment.
Acting on Commission on the Future recommendations, the University launched the Jefferson Public Citizens program (JPC) in fall 2009. JPC, which combines scholarship and service, enables students and a faculty mentor to design, plan, and lead a team in a public service project in Charlottesville or elsewhere in the world. With University funding, the inaugural JPC cohort — eighty-six students, including graduate-student mentors — will carry out sixteen projects. The projects include a GED class for the homeless; a study of the social, political, and technical barriers to alleviating groundwater contamination in an Argentinean town; and an initiative allowing the Young Women's Leadership Program, a joint project of the Women's Center and Curry School researchers, to expand to area ninth-grade girls.
Outside the classroom, U.Va. students are equally committed to public service. As part of the student-run Alternative Spring Break program, about 550 students this year participated in forty-three projects. Ten students traveled to New York City to work at a soup kitchen, food pantry, and referral center, while another group set up a weeklong after school computer lab with Charlottesville's Computers 4 Kids program. The students offered nutritional information as well as computer instruction.
The U.Va. chapter of Nursing Students Without Borders has established a long-term relationship with the Red Cross Clinic in San Sebastian, El Salvador. Thanks to the $50,000 the chapter raised, the clinic broke ground on a new facility this year. U.Va. student members of Bridging the Gap, one of eighteen student-run programs of Madison House, offer mentoring and tutoring to refugee youth who have resettled in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area. The children come from many countries, including Somalia, Kenya, Congo, Russia, Liberia, Thailand, and Burma.
These are emblematic of the many volunteer efforts cited this year when the Corporation for National and Community Service honored the University by naming it "with distinction" to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Engaging in the Process of Discovery
More than 50 percent of University students engage in some form of research, including classroom and independent work, during their University career. Thanks to programs like the Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards and the Double Hoo research program, many students each year conduct original research projects with faculty guidance on topics such as Parkinson's disease, gene therapy, and the interplay of domestic violence and the economy in Nicaragua.
Students also fund and conduct their own independent research. Engineering and biology students are taking advantage of an emerging biotechnology — using standardized, modular biological parts called biobricks to assemble synthetic organisms — in their group research projects. They are modifying E. coli bacteria to produce plastic, creating a sustainable product rather than one derived from fossil fuels. Their group, the Virginia Genetically Engineered Machine team, is working to institute synthetic biology as a vital research area at U.Va. This year, they created a new Biological Systems Design seminar to explain their efforts to other students and won a bronze medal at the 2008 International Genetically Engineered Machine conference. Team members are Patrick Gildea (Engineering '09), Eyad Lababidi (Engineering '09), Dan Tarjan (College '10), George Washington (Engineering '09), and Brandon Freshcorn (Engineering '09).
Jeff O'Dell (Engineering '09) teamed with fellow biomedical engineering students to develop a new type of body armor, an improvement on the protection he wore during his deployment in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. Standard-issue armor can stop a single armor-piercing bullet, but a second shot in the same area could kill. The team has created armor from a unique configuration of ceramic plates. At a ballistics-testing lab, the armor stopped as many as eight of ten rounds.
Music major Juan Mendez (College '09) set out to discover the sound of DNA. In her computer composition class, Judith Shatin, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Music, encouraged students to enter the "re-new" international digital arts competition in Denmark, which called for "sonifying" a DNA segment. Mr. Mendez created a computer composition that translates the patterns created by the double helix into sound. His piece, "Twisting," won first place.
Making the Most of Opportunities
The University has limited time to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives they need to lead wisely and act decisively for the public good. U.Va. students take advantage of the opportunity to learn and develop during their years here.
Vinu Ilakkuvan (Engineering '09) used her time at the University to challenge herself in multiple ways. The winner of the Engineering School's Outstanding Student of the Year Award, she worked at the American Association for the Advancement of Science while participating in the school's Science and Technology Policy Internship Program in Washington, D.C. She also won a Harrison Award to travel to India to study compliance among the country's diabetics and worked with biomedical engineering students to develop a clamp to treat uterine
atony, a complication of Cesarean childbirth. Ms. Ilakkuvan served as the copresident of the Hindu Student Council, an associate editor for the Cavalier Daily, and vice chairwoman of the University Guide Service.
View of Lhasa
Provided by the American
The Tibetan and Himalayan Library
Courtney Mallow (College '10) and Evelyn Hall (College '09) received a Davis Projects for Peace prize for a proposal to empower women in Bluefields, Nicaragua. Working with community partners, the two developed business, health, and gender equality training as part of an effort to establish a women's microcredit institution, the Caribbean Women's Savings and Credit Cooperative. With access to microcredit loans, women in the area may become economically independent and less vulnerable to violence. A team of students, including Ms. Mallow, received funding through the JPC program to extend this work in a study of sustainable social enterprises in the Bluefields region.
The accomplishments of the University's students are extraordinary, as reflected in their success in national scholarship competitions:
- Thushara Gunda (College '10), an environmental sciences major, received a Morris K. Udall Scholarship to support her research in the hydrogeological sciences. She was one of eighty winners nationwide.
- Doctoral students Rosemary Ann Cox-Galhotra and Elizabeth Anne Hart received three-year National Science Foundation graduate fellowships. An engineering student, Ms. Cox-Galhotra is working on solid oxide fuel cells while Ms. Hart, an anthropology student, is researching several 4,000-year-old sites in Egypt.
- Chemistry major Courtney Schroeder (College '09), an Echols Scholar, received a Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship, which will enable her to study structural biology at the University of Cambridge in England.
- William A. Callison (College '09), a political and social thought major, won a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service to continue his study of German philosophy in Berlin after graduation.
- Graduate education student Noah Egge received a Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship for exceptional early career teachers.
- Todd Gerarden (Engineering '10) was named a 2009 Truman Scholarship winner. The award is given to students who exhibit exceptional leadership potential and are committed to careers in government, nonprofit or advocacy work, education, or public service.
- Graduate English student Christine Schott, who studies medieval reading practices, was awarded a Leifur Eiriksson Foundation Scholarship for study in Iceland. The driving force behind the creation of the foundation was the late Robert Kellogg, English professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
- William Jacobs (Engineering '10, College '10), an engineering science and physics major and a Jefferson and Rodman scholar, received a scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. It is awarded to students pursuing degrees in science, mathematics, and engineering.
- Rebecca Vallas was named a Skadden Fellow, a public service fellowship for recent law school graduates. She will receive an annual salary while working on a program of her own design at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, which offers legal assistance to low-income Philadelphians.
Welcoming the Best
This year, a record 21,839 students applied for only 3,240 places in the class of 2013. In these difficult economic times, the University is committed to ensuring that all students who qualify for admission to the University, regardless of their economic circumstances, can attend. The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) degree program administered by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies for part-time students, and AccessUVa, the University's pioneering financial aid program, guarantee that the nation's most capable men and women will gain the knowledge needed for leadership, much as Jefferson envisioned. The Bernard Osher Foundation recently gave $1 million to support students in the BIS program, while the University reaffirmed its commitment to AccessUVa, raising its support to qualifying undergraduates from $14.1 million in 2003–04 to $31.3 million in 2008–09.
An Osher Reentry Scholarship is helping BIS student Amber Brister (School of Continuing and Professional Studies '09), a project manager on major construction projects, to attend U.Va. For Ms. Brister, the BIS degree is the first step in attaining her lifelong ambition to become a veterinarian. AccessUVa made it possible for Chalais Massard (College '09) and Kimberly Diaz (College '09) to attend the University. With a firsthand appreciation for the difference an education can make, both joined the Teach for America program after graduation.