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A Year of Change, A Place of Continuity


To remain relevant in a rapidly changing world, universities must continuously evolve. Thomas Jefferson knew this. In an 1804 letter he wrote, "Science is progressive. What was useful two centuries ago is now become useless … what is now deemed useful will in some of its parts become useless in another century." Mr. Jefferson was using the word science in its nineteenth-century sense to mean the entire body of knowledge. In the past year, the members of our University community have worked hard and have taken intellectual risks to ensure that the knowledge created and shared here continues to be useful, and that the University continues to meet the emerging needs of the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Teresa A. Sullivan

The past year was a period of transformation in the University's executive leadership. Michael Strine became the new executive vice president and chief operating officer in July, succeeding Leonard Sandridge at the conclusion of his forty-four years of service. Michael came here from the Johns Hopkins University, where he served as vice president for finance, chief financial officer, and treasurer. As a former faculty member, a leader in state government, and an experienced financial and operational leader, Michael has a diverse background that has prepared him well for this job at U.Va.

John Simon became the University's new executive vice president and provost in September, succeeding Tim Garson. John is a chemist who came to us from Duke University, where he served for six years as vice provost for academic affairs, overseeing strategic planning and nurturing campuswide academic initiatives to connect the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Prior to serving as vice provost, John chaired Duke's Department of Chemistry, and earlier served on the faculty at the University of California at San Diego. Together, John Simon and Michael Strine will lead a strong team of deans and vice presidents who are committed to advancing the University and its mission.

Even during a period of change, certain constancies continue to define life and learning here. When Mr. Jefferson was making plans for the University in 1821, he wrote that he wished to see its students "rising under a luminous tuition, to destinies of high promise." Today, our outstanding students work and study diligently to fulfill the destinies that Jefferson described. They regularly win awards and honors recognizing their achievements. The Class of 2011 included one Rhodes Scholar, one Udall Scholar, four Goldwater Scholars, and four winners of Davis Prizes for Peace. In September 2011, seven of our scholars—two graduate students and five recent graduates—received Fulbright awards to study abroad. During their time here, these students and their classmates participated in a rigorous education in what Jefferson called "the useful sciences" that nurtured their academic growth while also fostering their personal maturation with opportunities for self-governance, service, and leadership. This process of education and maturation produces broadly informed, well-rounded graduates who are ready to assume positions of leadership on the day they leave the Grounds.

The excellence of our students is largely attributable to the work of our faculty members, who distinguished themselves in many ways in the past year. Three professors from the College of Arts & Sciences—historian Alon Confino, Ernest H. Ern Professor of Environmental Sciences Paolo D'Odorico, and anthropologist Kath Weston—were awarded Guggenheim fellowships. Kim Hazelwood, associate professor of computer science in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, was recognized by Technology Review magazine as one of the world's top innovators under the age of thirty-five. Kim Tanzer, the Edward E. Elson Professor of Architecture and dean of the School of Architecture, was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, the national professional association of architects. Chip Tucker, the John C. Coleman Professor of English, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of Poetry and former U.S. Poet Laureate, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was invited by President Barack Obama to read her poetry at an "Evening of Poetry" at the White House in May.

Timothy Beatley, the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities; and James Ryan, the William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law and the F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, received 2011 Outstanding Faculty Awards from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

U.Va. Health System physicians are recognized regularly for excellence in their areas of specialization. Forty-eight of our physicians were included in the latest edition of America's Top Doctors. This guide recognizes physicians who are considered to be among the top 1 percent in the nation in their medical specialties and subspecialties. The specialties of the forty-eight doctors recognized range from neonatal medicine to geriatric psychiatry. Additionally, fifteen U.Va. physicians were included in the listing for a sister publication, American's Top Doctors for Cancer.

Public service continued to be a hallmark of University life in the past year. Students here are strongly committed to service, and Madison House gives them many opportunities to help in our community. In the 2010–11 academic year, more than 3,400 students volunteered within nineteen program areas, at some ninety sites. Their cumulative volunteer work added up to more than 100,000 hours, with approximately 18,000 residents in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area directly affected by our students' volunteer service. Among the nineteen program areas at Madison House are an Adopt-a-Grandparent program, which allows students to provide one-on-one companionship to senior citizens living in nursing homes, adult communities, and private residences; a Big Sibling program, which matches our students with local, at-risk kids between the ages of six and twelve; an ESL tutoring program for children and adults offered through Albemarle County; and Hoos Against Hunger and Homelessness, where volunteers work with adults and children at a local homeless shelter and operate a food redistribution program.

University employees once again demonstrated their concern for the community through their participation in the 2010 Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. Our employees contributed more than $910,000 through the campaign, the highest total of any state agency. U.Va. employees' donations made up more than 24 percent of the statewide total of $3.8 million. Since 1999, University employees have contributed more than $8 million through the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. In addition, U.Va. was the top state agency in total dollars contributed to the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund. This fund was established to provide financial aid to citizens of Virginia who suffered losses as a result of tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and an earthquake.

Despite a weak economy, we continue to make steady progress in the Campaign for the University of Virginia, with current and future support commitments totaling more than $2.47 billion as of the end of August. For the 2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30th, overall giving by alumni, parents, and friends was up $27 million (35 percent) over fiscal year 2010. This generous support enables us to sustain and strengthen the University in difficult economic times. We have begun using the theme "Heart of the Grounds" to describe the final stage of the campaign. Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda and Academical Village represent the physical heart of the Grounds, while our faculty and students personify the figurative heart of the Grounds. Preserving these literal and figurative hearts of the Grounds will be a key focus in the year ahead.

As I reflect on our progress over the past year, I recall Thomas Jefferson's view of this University as "an institution on which the fortunes of our country may depend." Our Commonwealth and our country are depending on this University now more than ever to fulfill its multifaceted mission of education, research, clinical care, and public service. This report describes our progress in pursuing these mission areas in the past year.

Teresa A. Sullivan