Faculty: Setting the Highest Standards

The University of Virginia is a major research institution with an uncommonly strong commitment to teaching. Throughout the 1990s, it has taken decisive measures to ensure that undergraduate, graduate, and professional students benefit from the best minds among the faculty. Campaign contributions have helped attract and retain the most extraordinary faculty ever assembled on Grounds by endowing professorships and strengthening academic programs. This year a number of outstanding scholars and academic leaders joined the intellectual community.

A Renewed Interest in Intellectual Engagement

The 1997 Convocation address by Faculty Senate chair Jahan Ramazani, left, had a galvanizing effect on the University community. Ramazani championed intellectual engagement, noting that "the kind of community we advocate … thrives not on uniformity of assumptions or profiles, but on heterogeneity; it is continually renewed by the grit of contending viewpoints." During the remainder of the year, the Faculty Senate took numerous initiatives to foster intellectual life at the University, including securing funding for pilot programs to improve teaching and developing plans for a faculty center.

Gary W. Gallagher, one of the nation's foremost Civil War historians, left Penn State University to become the Nau Professor of American Civil War History.

Edward A. Snyder took the helm as dean of the Darden School, after teaching at the University of Michigan Business School for sixteen years.

Philip D. Zelikow, a former National Security Council staff member and coauthor of The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, came to the University from Harvard University to become the new director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs.

Janis Antonovics, a fellow of the Royal Society described by his peers as one of the world's outstanding evolutionary biologists, joined the University faculty after twenty-eight years at Duke University. His appointment was made possible by a distribution from the John Lee Pratt Fund.

The enthusiastic support of donors also has enabled the University to retain its most eminent faculty. This year the Board of Visitors appointed Dr. Michael Thorner as the Henry B. Mulholland Professor of Internal Medicine. Dr. Thorner is one of the world's leading endocrinologists and chief of internal medicine. English professor Karen Chase was elected to a two-year term as one of two Cavalier Distinguished Teaching Professorships. This professorship, established by the athletic department from proceeds from football bowl games, honors an eminent scholar for outstanding teaching of undergraduates. Presently, there are more than four hundred professorships at the University, a third established since the beginning of the Capital Campaign.

Members of the faculty have been recognized by their peers as among the best our nation has to offer. The following is a sampling of the kinds of recognition afforded faculty here.

Anita K. Jones, University Professor of Computer Science, was nominated by President Clinton to serve on the National Science Board.

Professor Julian Bond, who teaches civil rights history, served as the moderator at this fall's Nobel Peace Laureate Conference. He is pictured, above, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Cabell Hall. Earlier inthe year, Bond was selected as the chairman of the National association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Charles Wright, the Souder Family Professor of English, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection Black Zodiac. This work also won the L.A. Times Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Edgar A. Starke Jr., the Earnest Jackson Oglesby Professor of Science and University Professor of Engineering, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

John Monahan, the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation Professor of Law and Professor of Law, Psychology, and Legal Medicine, was elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Matthew Holden, Jr., the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs, was named the president-elect of the American Political Science Association.

Sharon Hays, assistant professor of sociology, received a Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association for The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood.

Barry Cushman, professor of law, received the prestigious Littleton-Griswold Prize from the American Historical Association for his recently published book, Rethinking the New Deal Court.

Natalie O. Kononenko, associate professor of Slavic languages and literature, was awarded the 1997 Kovaliv Prize for her book, Ukrainian Minstrels: And the Blind Shall Sing.

The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History by Scott DeVeaux, associate professor of music, won an American Book Award.

Karen H. Parshall, associate professor of history and mathematics, was elected to the Council of the American Mathematical Society.

James F. Childress, the Edwin B. Kyle Professor of Religious Studies and a national figure in medical ethics, was elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Physics professor Louis A. Bloomfield and law professor Michael J. Klarman were chosen by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to receive Outstanding Faculty Awards.

Pioneering Technology for the Humanities

The University's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities helps scholars in the liberal arts harness computers' potential for research and teaching purposes. Under the direction of John Unsworth, right, the institute has supported thirty-plus projects, including a documentary history of the construction of the University and an electronic archive that allows scholars to compare fifty-four surviving manuscripts of the fourteenth-century allegorical dream vision Piers Plowman. The institute's efforts have been widely recognized; it is the only humanities center selected for the National Computational Science Alliance, one of two supercomputing centers sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

External funding for research at the University grew to a record $163 million in fiscal year 1997-98, up 3 percent from the previous year. The most recent National Science Foundation Survey ranked the University of Virginia forty-seventh among the top hundred national universities in total funding for research and development. External research funding makes up 15 percent of the University's operating budget.

The following examples highlight research efforts at the University:

Astronomer Steven Majewski was awarded more than $1 million in research funds for his path-breaking work on the formation of the Milky Way galaxy. He received a $455,000 Career Award from the National Science Foundation, a $500,000 Packard Award, and a $50,000 Cottrell Scholars Award.

John Dobbins's fellowship at the University's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, created by a $1 million equipment grant from IBM, transformed his work on Pompeii from a one-person research project to an interdisciplinary collaborative venture.

Historian Edward Ayers has created an archive of information about the Civil War as it affected two locations, Franklin County, Pa., and Augusta County, Va. The information is available on the Web and will be published on CD this year. The project is funded in large part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A $450,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Education will enable Curry School of Education faculty to prepare materials for teachers' use in evaluating the reading readiness of kindergarten and first-grade students.

The National Institutes of Health awarded Cedric Williams, assistant professor of psychology, $493,000 to further his research into the biological basis of memory.

The biology department was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to strengthen undergraduate education.

Joseph Allen, associate professor of psychology, was awarded a $1.5 million grant to conduct a five-year investigation into early adolescent development.

The University has pursued new initiatives to support faculty research, such as its multimillion dollar strategic alliance with IBM to accelerate the use of advanced technology by students and faculty in engineering, commerce, the Darden School, the University library, and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities.

Recovering the History of University Women

It is commonly assumed that women played virtually no role in the development of the University before full coeducation in 1972. However, almost 10,000 women attended the University between 1920 and 1976. Phyllis Leffier, here, director of the Institute for Public History, is surveying these women to learn about their experiences here and to determine the University's impact on their lives. She is currently analyzing the results of more than 1,000 responses from these early female students with a team of graduate and undergraduate students. Preliminary findings reveal that University alumnae thought of themselves as serious students who came to the University determined to develop expertise in their field. Most think fondly of the time they spent at the University, though they often found themselves on the margins of University life. Three University students are pictured above, circa 1900, in a humorous moment.

The close link between research and teaching is part of what makes the educational experience here so exciting for students. There are few institutions in the nation where students learn as directly from the scholars and researchers who are in the process of redefining their field of study. In some cases, the material covered in class is so new that it has yet to appear in standard textbooks. The impression that this creates -- that there is always something new to discover -- is critical for young people embarking on careers in the new century.

The University Seminars program, begun in 1990, focuses on this critical relationship by giving first- and second-year students the opportunity to take small classes taught by the University's most distinguished faculty. This program has been immensely popular with students and faculty, earning the enthusiastic support from the Hewlett Foundation, which has allowed the program to grow in recent years.

The range of services developed by the Teaching Resource Center is another indication of the importance of teaching at the University. The center, which offers teaching assistance to faculty at all stages of their careers, was cited in a 1998 Boyer Report of the Carnegie foundation for its innovation.

In addition, the University's commitment to placing technology in the classrooms has enabled teachers to tap more effective ways of introducing new ideas. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine this year ranked the University of Virginia sixteenth among America's one hundred "most wired" colleges.

Research results of some of our leading faculty are being transferred to the manufacturing phase, such as professor of biochemistry and genetics Ronald P. Taylor's license of a system to clear pathogens from the bloodstream. This may have significant benefits for people with blood-borne diseases.

The engineering school has been the site of a collaboration between the school and the University's Office of Information Technologies to test new classroom technologies. Three updated rooms, each equipped in different ways, opened this year in the Mechanical Engineering Building.

President's Report 1997-1998

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