The University of Virginia continues to attract top high school seniors to the Grounds. Of the students offered admission to the Class of 2014, 93.3 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes and their average combined SAT verbal and math scores increased by 8 points over last year. Each year, the University finds ways to challenge these students while also addressing changing needs for higher education in the twenty-first century.
SOUTH LAWN PROJECT
College and Gradute School of Arts & Sciences
At the south end of the new South Lawn is the Commons Building, which features a 250-seat octagonal lecture hall, a café with three-story glass walls, and a grassy terrace that stretches over Jefferson Park Avenue and connects with New Cabell Hall.
Introducing new courses, better technology, and wide-ranging initiatives are some of the ways to offer students opportunities to advance their studies and improve their educational experience. New programs in 2009–10 included a Global Development Studies major in the College of Arts & Sciences, the Peace Corps' Master's International Program in the Curry School of Education, and the Schools of Nursing and Medicine's Initiatives in Compassionate Care. The new Student Information System (SIS)—a comprehensive system for admission, student finance, advising, enrollment, and records—became the official record system for all U.Va. students beginning in fall 2009. SIS is linked to the University's financial and human resources system.
Excellent teaching by committed faculty also engages students in leading-edge scholarship and research. Faculty members and graduate teaching assistants, while scholars themselves, seek the best ways to reach out to students in the classroom and take advantage of resources through the University's Teaching Resource Center, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary this year.
Throughout students' time here, the University helps them define their own paths in life and gain the knowledge and the skills to pursue their goals successfully. Graduates take their education and the variety of their experiences with them as they embark on their careers and lives after U.Va. At the 2009–10 Final Exercises, the University awarded 6,256 degrees, including 3,570 bachelor's degrees; 517 first professional degrees; and 2,169 graduate degrees.
Supporting Scholarship and Research
Scholarship and research activities are fundamental to the U.Va. student experience, providing an enriching and broad education for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. With the creation of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence in 2002 and support from the Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, first presented in 2000, the University strengthened its commitment to encourage and support student participation in research. Altogether, more than 50 percent of U.Va. undergraduates are involved in some sort of research, including classroom and independent work.
In February 2010, the University gave thirty-seven undergraduate research awards for projects encompassing a broad range, from using bioremediation to remove pollutants in drinking water to analyzing the reliability of official Chinese statistics. These projects allow students to engage in significant scholarly work with the guidance of a faculty advisor.
Eight Double Hoo awards were granted this year to pairs of undergraduate and graduate students collaborating on research projects. Double Hoo awards are particularly valuable for graduate students interested in academic careers because they provide them the experience of serving as a research mentor.
The University has also created facilities that enable students to translate their ideas into working designs and prototypes. The Darden School of Business's new i.Lab has been stocked with equipment to promote experiential, team-based, and collaborative learning, and serves as a design-based studio where students can transform ideas into physical prototypes. Students gain a hands-on understanding of the product development process, which helps them become more entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers. When completed in summer 2011, Rice Hall at the School of Engineering and Applied Science will itself be a teaching tool, in which data on energy use in the building will be analyzed by faculty and student researchers to advance knowledge in the fields of information technology engineering and green building practices.
Opening a Window on the World
McIntire School of Commerce
The McIntire School moved back to the Lawn in 2008, thanks to support through the Campaign for the University of Virginia and a lead gift from John A. Griffin (McIntire ’85) honoring distinguished financier Julian H. Robertson, Jr., and his wife, Josie. The new academic complex features the University’s first environmentally "green" roof.
The University also is expanding the international experiences available to students, providing ways to broaden their experiences through academic exposure, working opportunities, and daily life in diverse and multicultural international settings. In November 2009, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences opened an office at Peking University, setting the stage for exchanges with universities in China. The partnership with Peking University, one of Asia's top research universities, will extend to involve undergraduate and graduate programs.
In spring 2010, with the Institute for Shipboard Education, the University launched a new Semester at Sea program focusing on China-U.S. relations. Led by faculty in residence from U.Va. and Fudan University in Shanghai, the program is one of many offerings within the Semester at Sea 2010 theme of sustainability, in which students learn about the socio-political objectives of particular areas and regions to understand how global communities work together for mutual benefit.
U.Va. students' international experiences often include service components. Before students leave the Grounds, however, they learn to create bridges with local communities so the projects they undertake can be sustained after they leave. Many undergraduates take "Ethics, Protocols, and Practices of International Research," a course offered during January Term by Robert Swap, research associate professor of environmental sciences, and Carol Anne Spreen, assistant professor in the Curry School of Education. This year, students were joined by twenty international scholars from countries such as Botswana and Brazil who contributed to the course discussions and class activities.
Applying Knowledge for the Common Good
Involving students in community and public service is another way that the University prepares students. Projects such as the Learning Barge, a floating environmental classroom christened in September 2009 in Portsmouth, and ecoMOD4, a fourth-generation modular, sustainable, and affordable house erected in Charlottesville, allow students to tackle technical issues while learning to collaborate with local citizens. These projects—and classes like the Neighborhood Planning Workshop in the School of Architecture or University of Virginia History: Race and Repair—bridge the gap between town and gown and unite the community. In fact, half the participants in Race and Repair were members of the Charlottesville community who met with U.Va. students in the downtown area.
Student involvement in community service is given form and direction through the Jefferson Public Citizens program (JPC), which integrates students' service and research throughout their four years and provides funding for selected student projects. In 2010, eighty-one undergraduates received JPC awards to join forces with community partners such as the Albemarle County Public Schools, Heifer International, and Inner Mongolia Medical College. Among the many JPC projects, student teams helped create a new educational radio show in Nicaragua, monitored the health of Charlottesville's waterways, and developed and tested designs for transitional disaster recovery housing.
Introducing New Teaching Initiatives and Tools
None of these efforts would be successful without faculty members who not only are committed to meeting the educational needs of students but who also find time to develop new teaching initiatives and classes. This year, members of the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures introduced courses in Bengali, a language rarely taught at U.S. universities although it is spoken by 230 million people around the world. The Engineering School launched an accelerated master's program in systems engineering for military veterans, and the Faculty Senate approved a new master's program in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies.
In creating their courses, faculty members make ingenious use of University resources. Members of the departments of environmental sciences, history, landscape architecture, and architecture saw in Morven Farm, donated to the University in 2001 by benefactor John W. Kluge, an opportunity to offer classes that examine how a large tract of land and historic property can be adapted for academic purposes. On the Grounds, civil engineering and environmental sciences faculty members now use the Dell Pond to teach students how biofiltration cleanses runoff.
Faculty members also develop digital tools for their classrooms to help students work more efficiently with their course materials and with each other. Matthew Burtner, associate professor of music, helped create the Network-Operational Mobile Applied Digital System (NOMADS). The system allows students to send questions during class or participate in performances of computer-generated music from their laptops, as was the case at the May 2010 Digitalis Festival where 300 audience members interacted with music composed by students and the MICE (the Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble) Orchestra. In classes, students hold virtual discussions and question the professor without interrupting the lecture. NOMADS can be used to poll or quiz the class on lecture material. NOMADS also enables more playful and exploratory forms of interaction through such applications as "Thought Cloud," "Swarm Synthesizer," and "Sand Pointer."
College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Ruffin Hall, the new home of studio art, is the first new building constructed on the Arts Grounds since the Drama Department Building opened in 1974. The facility was financed with state and private support, including a leadership gift from the Peter B. and Adeline W. Ruffin Foundation, and is named for the 1926 College of Arts & Sciences alumnus and his wife.
Faculty members in the Curry School of Education and the Center for Digital History collaborated to develop PrimaryAccess, an online tool that allows users to combine their own text, historical images from primary sources, and audio narration to create online documentaries. In addition, U.Va. faculty members are helping public interest organization Fairness.com to test and develop NowComment, a web-based tool that allows dozens of students to comment on individual sentences in a text, which can help the professor then generate more in-depth discussion during class time.
Recognizing a Commitment to Teaching
The emphasis faculty place on teaching, a core value of the University, helps provide students with the high-quality education that forms the basis of the University's national reputation. Every year, members of the faculty are singled out for excellence in teaching. At the Darden School of Business, Gregory Fairchild, associate professor of business administration, and Michael Lenox, the Samuel L. Slover Research Professor, were named 2009 Faculty Pioneers by the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education. The award celebrates business school faculty who have demonstrated leadership and risk taking in integrating ethical, environmental, and social issues into the MBA curriculum.
Edward Berger, associate professor of mechanical engineering, was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering's first Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium held in November 2009. Engineering faculty in the first part of their careers who are developing innovative educational programs shared their ideas, exchanged best practices, and returned with a charter to initiate improvements at their home institutions.
Faculty members also receive honors for the educating they do off Grounds. Astronomy professor Trinh Xuan Thuan won the 2009 Kalinga Prize, offered each year by UNESCO for promoting public awareness of science. Mr. Thuan, who writes in French, published a series of best-selling books on science and nature. Past Kalinga winners include Arthur Clarke, Margaret Mead, and Bertrand Russell.
Setting New Standards for Achievement
Students thrive in a setting where there are challenging programs and inspiring faculty. An African-American and African Studies major in the Political and Social Thought Program, Stephanie de Wolfe (College '10) helped establish an African Studies minor, organized a human rights film festival, and helped plan the Bill T. Jones arts residency at U.Va. In addition, she performed community service in Cameroon and wrote her thesis on the relationship of the corporate food industry to high rates of diet-related chronic illness.
Both a Jefferson and a Rodman Scholar, Rahul Gorawara (Engineering '09, Batten '10) made the most of his four years, earning his bachelor's degree with highest distinction, as a triple major in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and economics. In his fourth year he earned a master's degree from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, while completing enough accounting and business classes at the McIntire School of Commerce to take the certified public accountant exam. He also served as the Board of Visitors student representative, a resident advisor, and the president of the McIntire Investment Institute.
Mr. Gorawara was joined by many other students this year in compiling an outstanding record of achievement:
Selam Asihel (College '11) and Razan Osman (College '11) were awarded a Davis Projects for Peace Award for their program to bring together Muslim and Coptic Christian orphans in Egypt.
Civil engineering major Ethan Heil (Engineering '11) received a Morris K. Udall Scholarship, which is given to young scholars committed to careers in the environment, health care, or tribal public policy; and who demonstrate leadership potential and academic achievement.
Michelle Henry, who graduated in 2010 with master's and bachelor's degrees in environmental sciences, received a Luce Scholarship, which provides a stipend, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia.
Anthropology graduate student Jason Hickel received a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, the largest award for doctoral candidates in the humanities and social sciences.
Jefferson and Rodman Scholar Will Jacobs, an engineering and physics major, received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship for study at the University of Cambridge. His doctoral research will focus on computer modeling of molecular motors that convert chemical energy into mechanical energy.
Four University undergraduates—all third-year students—received Goldwater Scholarships to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. They are Stuart Charles Keech, an aerospace engineering major; Matthew Taylor Aronson, a chemical engineering major; Ruffin Eley Evans, a physics and chemistry double major; and Jeneva Anne Laib, a biomedical engineering major.
David Malda, a graduate student in the School of Architecture, is the 2009–10 Olmstead Scholar, an honor given to the one student nationwide who best exemplifies the ideals of leadership in sustainable design and planning.
Tyler Spencer (College '08) received a Rhodes Scholarship. Since graduating from the University, Mr. Spencer founded and directs Athletes United for Social Justice, a nonprofit organization that trains college athletes to be HIV educators.