- President Emeritus
- Professor of English
- © Photo by Peggy Harrison
Professor of English John Casteen became president of the University of Virginia in August 1990. As president, he oversaw a major restructuring of the University's administrative and governance structures, one of the largest capital funds campaigns ever undertaken, significant improvements in academic programs, and major expansions of the University's physical facilities. In this period, also, the University has been recognized for its leadership in educating minority students, for the quality of its undergraduate teaching, and for its success in refinancing itself following historic reductions in state tax support at the beginning of the decade.
After teaching English at the University of California (Berkeley) and the University of Virginia, Mr. Casteen became Virginia's secretary of education in 1982. He served until 1985. While secretary, he directed reforms in both secondary and higher education, revamped Virginia's college desegregation efforts, and initiated programs of state support for research. From 1985 to 1990, he was president of the University of Connecticut.
Mr. Casteen has been a director of the American Council on Education, a director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, trustee and chair of the College Entrance Examination Board, commissioner of the Education Commission of the States, member of the Board of Control for the Southern Regional Education Board, commissioner of the New England Board of Higher Education, and chair of the Association of Governing Board's council of presidents. From 1991 to 1993, he chaired the National Board on Oceans and Atmosphere.
In 1997, Mr. Casteen completed a term as chair of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) as well as a term as president of SACS. In 2000-2002, he chaired the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). He recently completed a term as chair of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Mr. Casteen is currently a member of AAU's Institutional Data Committee.
Mr. Casteen's business career has included service as a director of Connecticut Bank and Trust Company (CBT) in 1986-1989 - CBT was acquired by Fleet Bank, and as a member of CBT's audit and corporate responsibility committees; as a director of the New England Education Loan Marketing Corporation (Nellie Mae) and the successor foundation (1988-1997 and 2000), and as a member of Nellie Mae's executive committee; as a director of Sallie Mae (1999-2004), following the sale of Nellie Mae to SLMA, Inc.; as a director of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Connecticut, Inc., now a component of Anthem (1989-1990, resigned to move to Virginia), as a member of the audit and medical affairs committees, and as a director of Calico, a wholly owned subsidiary providing employee life insurance services for client corporations; as a director of the College Construction Loan Insurance Association (Connie Lee) and a member of the finance committee (1993-1997) - Connie Lee was acquired by AmBac in 1997; as a director of Allied Concrete Company, Charlottesville (1995-1998); as a director of Jefferson Bankshares, Inc., and Jefferson National Bank and chair of the executive compensation committee (1990-1997) - JBI was acquired by Wachovia in 1997; a director of the old and new Wachovia Corporation (1997-present), member and chair of its audit and compliance committees, and subsequently member and chair of the audit committee of the new corporation formed by the merger of Wachovia and First Union, currently serves on audit committee. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; and member and chair of the Jefferson Science Associates, LLC. Currently, he serves as chair of Universitas 21 and is a member of the Board of Directors of U21 Global Pte Ltd. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of SAGE Publications, Inc., a member of the Virginia University Research Partnership Board, and Director of the Rare Book School (2011-).
Mr. Casteen was named the Outstanding Virginian of 1993. The state conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) presented its Jackson Davis Award to him in December 1993. In February 1996, he received the doctor honoris causa from the University of Athens in Greece. In 1998, he was named the University of Virginia's outstanding alumnus of the year. In December 1998, he received the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Social Sciences. In November 2002, Mr. Casteen was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention's Presidents Leadership Group Award. The Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects selected Mr. Casteen as the recipient of the Architecture Medal for Virginia Service in 2004. In 2009, Mr. Casteen was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award for service, the University of Virginia's highest honor. Also in 2009, the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce awarded Mr. Casteen the Paul Goodloe McIntire Citizenship Award and Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Government and Public Affairs presented Mr. Casteen with the Excellence in Virginia Government Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mr. Casteen holds three degrees in English from the University of Virginia (B.A. with high honors in 1965, M.A. in 1966, and Ph.D. in 1970). He served as UVA's dean of admission from 1975 to 1982. Born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, he is married to Betsy Foote Casteen. They have five children.