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A Message from President Sullivan to Parents of New Students

August 1, 2012

As you prepare to bring your son or daughter to Charlottesville later this month, I write to welcome you to the University family. In addition, I want to address the events that transpired here over the summer and to reassure you that UVa continues to offer a superb undergraduate education.

If you followed the media coverage, you know the details of my resignation and reinstatement in June. In the aftermath of those events, the University community in Charlottesville--its faculty, staff, and students--are more united than ever in our commitment to this institution and its high purposes. Teaching undergraduate students is one of our highest purposes, and the undergraduate experience at UVa is rightly recognized as one of the best in the nation. The events this summer focused primarily on my individual role as president, but UVa's distinctive brand of education is not the product of one person. We have a community of teachers who are deeply committed to student learning, and they are the source of the University's greatness. The events of the summer have not discouraged our faculty members or otherwise diminished the qualities that led your student to choose UVa over other colleges and universities. On the contrary, the controversy has galvanized and motivated our faculty members. All of us recognize that UVa faces serious challenges, just as all American universities face challenges; but we are more committed than ever to affirming and strengthening the qualities that have made UVa a model of excellence in education for years.

Your student is joining a community that holds a unique place among American universities. From their first day on the Grounds, students enter a community of trust in which opportunity and responsibility go hand-in-hand, as they participate in long-standing systems of self-governance and honor. We expect students to treat one another with respect while seeking to understand and appreciate their classmates who may come from different backgrounds. We encourage collaboration and collegiality as students enjoy close interaction with faculty members. UVa combines the best aspects of liberal arts education with the vast resources of a major research university. This distinctive combination creates wonderful opportunities for students to closely interact with professors while also pursuing research.

Your son or daughter will face challenges here, both academic and personal. Taking on the pressure of a heavy academic work load while meeting new people and encountering new adult freedoms are serious adjustments for students. The safety and well-being of our students are our foremost concerns. I will talk with you about these and other issues at the meeting for parents on Saturday, August 25, at 1:00 p.m., in Old Cabell Hall. Please plan to come.

As your daughter or son gets started here, please consider becoming involved in the numerous activities that are available to parents and family members, both on and off Grounds. You will have many opportunities to participate in your local community through UVaClubs and to be part of our lifelong learning activities. To find out more about staying connected, please visit our parent and family web portal at www.virginia.edu/families. The Handbook for Parents provides valuable details about student self-governance, housing and residence life, technology, and other aspects of student life at UVa. The handbook is available here: www.virginia.edu/vpsa/parentshandbook.pdf. We offer an alert service called UVa Alerts that provides text and email messages in the event of an emergency on Grounds; parents can be added to their student's account and receive the same notifications. See www.virginia.edu/uvaalerts.

The Parents Committee and its Parents Fund support student organizations, safety and health, diversity, and parent resources. Last fall the Parents Committee awarded more than $250,000 in grants to various student groups and programs. Funding recipients included alcohol abuse prevention programs, club sports and arts groups, and the UVa Women's Center. The Parents Committee works hard to ensure student safety. It has supported the creation of a University-wide emergency text message system, emergency "blue light" phones, a Global Positioning System (GPS) for our bus system, and other safety projects. Information about the Parents Fund and Parents Committee is here: www.uvaparents.virginia.edu. I encourage you to get involved.

I send my best wishes as you prepare for the trip to Charlottesville. For driving directions to your student's area of residence, visit http://www.virginia.edu/housing/opening.php. For tips on parking and other useful information about Move-In Day, visit http://www.virginia.edu/orientation/?page_id=32.

Let me offer some final practical advice. Many families pack small items that require assembly, and so I recommend that you bring some simple tools with you, such as a flat-head screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver. A roll of duct tape can prove useful. And because residence hall rooms are small, using a tape measure might save you some frustration. Please be sure that your student brings details of any medical prescriptions and that you have given your student contact information for doctors and dentists. I look forward to meeting you in a few weeks.

Very truly yours,

Teresa A. Sullivan
President

President Sullivan approved distribution of this message.