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Alumni News

Fall 2000

Living on Carr's Hill, I see a good bit of daily life in my neighborhood. On my way to the office in Madison Hall, I meet Department of Art faculty and students on their way to and from classes, studios, and offices in Fayerweather Hall. From the Carr's Hill garden I see Architecture faculty and students moving in and out of Campbell Hall, and when I visit the large studio in Campbell Hall, I see the CAD displays, models and sketches by which young architects nowadays learn their art. Returning from the airport late at night, I drive along Rugby Road with its constant progress of students moving between (up the road) their sororities, fraternities, and apartment buildings and (down the road), the libraries and Newcomb Hall. This late night traffic always brings to mind the years when twin excitements of studies and friends made sleep unnecessary.

Living here as the University is now gives one ample opportunity to think about what this place was meant to be. In one sense, the Academical Village is an historical artifact, consisting of the buildings and outdoor space of the Lawn, Ranges, Pavilions, and Rotunda, places where for a short time young men lived and studied with their teachers. In another sense it is the blueprint for an academic program imagined as enabling the nation.

As we work to build the University's future, we are guided by the original vision of the academy as a community whose business is the free exchange of ideas between teacher and student and among practitioners of different disciplines. The purpose, grand now as it was then, is to prepare students for the existential spaciousness of living in a democracy. Rather than casual happenstance, meetings outside the classroom between students and faculty, faculty and administration, administration and students should be purposive. As much as possible, University life itself should educate.

In fall 2001, the new International Residential College will join Brown and Hereford Colleges as the University's third residential college. This is another academic community with roots in Jefferson's Academical Village, and in the colleges of the old universities of Paris and Oxford and Cambridge. More than ever in the growing University, the small academic entity within the larger one offers students intellectual community.

The Academical Village lives also in student-faculty research collaborations. In the College of Arts and Sciences, fourth-year student Natalie Beckman of Cincinnati, Ohio, works in the lab of Thomas Braciale, director of the Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Research. Ms. Beckman has developed an enzymatic assay to measure the immune response in laboratory mice to the respiratory synctial virus, a sometime fatal virus that accounts for a high proportion of hospital stays of children under twelve years old. Ms. Beckman's work with Dr. Braciale is helping researchers unravel difficult problems in human immunology.

For his distinguished majors thesis in the department of Anthropology, Brian Horne, of Alexandria, Virginia, has studied Native American artifacts donated to the Bayly Museum by Nancy Astor in 1937. Under the guidance of professors Jeffrey Hantman and Richard Handler, Mr. Horne has explored the social implications of native artifacts created not for tribal use, but for display in drawing rooms, museums, and various public spaces. The Bayly collection, for instance, was originally mounted in the Indian Grill Room of the Hotel Astor in New York City. In his studies with professors Hantman and Handler, Mr. Horne shed light on the relationship of Native American culture to the dominant European American culture.

Similar student-faculty collaborations occur throughout the University, in the College, in the School of Engineering, in all the professional schools. Student-faculty research allows the large research institution that the University of Virginia has become to be also an institution that teaches. We are not poet and teacher John Ciardi's definition of a university–"what a college becomes when the University loses interest in students." Our 18,350 (18,346) students and our 1,800 (1,838) faculty members are individuals in whose humanity we must invest. For students, for faculty, for the world at large, we rediscover the Academical Village in every generation as a means to educate thoughtful, effective, social-minded, and socially responsible human beings.

Sometimes of an evening on Carr's Hill, student voices drift across the rooftops of the Bayly, Fayerweather, and Campbell and recall earlier generations. In the old boxwood, in the bricks and the mortar, in classrooms, in libraries, in the gardens, in the places where bodies and minds created a university, past and present mingle and summon the future. Leaving the University, each of us leaves behind an impression that endures. All who have studied, taught, and worked at the University have a place in the present and will inhabit its future.

John T. Casteen III