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Alumni News — Spring 2005

Celebrating Achievement

Since spring is a season of celebrations—recall the opening lines of The Canterbury Tales—this may be a good time to celebrate some of the uncommon accomplishments of our students and faculty over the last several months. Sooner or later, these accomplishments redefine the University in every era. They are the bedrock on which any institution's value or reputation must rest, and they are very sound bedrock indeed. If following reports of this kind from day to day interests you, let me recommend the UVA Today Web site, which originally reported essentially all of the information below.

  • Philip Zelikow, the White Burkett Miller Professor of History and director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs, served from January 2003 as staff head for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States—the 9/11 Commission. Mr. Zelikow led a staff of 90 in collecting, analyzing and reporting information pertaining to the attacks, and he wrote much of the commission's final report that was published in July. The report has turned out to be both a best seller and a Pulitzer Prize nominee. Academics have performed service of comparable distinction in the past, but I can think of few instances that compare squarely with what Mr. Zelikow has accomplished in the national interest.
  • Distinguished public service is a fundamental quality of the faculty. Elsewhere in the University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced the appointment of John D. Arras, the Porterfield Professor of Bio-ethics and professor of philosophy, to a newly formed, permanent panel on vaccine distribution. The panel is addressing questions that are both hard and current, including who should get flu vaccines in this year's vaccine shortage and how the nation might deal with future epidemics.
  • Recognitions from academic and professional societies are a measure of the quality of any faculty. This has been a solid year for these honors, many of which also involve public service. Jeanette Lancaster, dean of the School of Nursing, is president-elect of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Patricia Spacks, the Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English Literature, is president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, Lillian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery; and Dr. Edward R. Laws Jr., the W. Gayle Crutchfield Professor of Neurosurgery, have been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. This brings to 15 the number of University medical faculty honored by election to the Institute, which represents the pinnacle of academic medicine.
  • Three more of our doctors were added this year to the list of America's Top Doctors, a ranking intended to identify the very best in the specialties in both patient care and research. This brings the total number of U.Va. physicians on the list to 48 in some 27 different fields.
  • Two interdisciplinary researchers, Richard Kent, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Shayn Peirce, assistant professor in biomedical engineering, were named to Technology Review's 2004 list of the world's 100 Top Young Innovators. Most career honors go to senior faculty members, but these awards matter for what they say about younger talent—the base on which we build the next generation's leaders.
  • Student accomplishments in the current year are equally exciting. In late fall, Meghan Sullivan (Col '05), and Justin Mutter (Col '03) were named Rhodes Scholars for 2005. Ms. Sullivan, a Jefferson Scholar from Greensboro, N.C., heads the Honor Committee, volunteers for Legal Aid and Restorative Justice, and is about to complete an honors major in politics and a distinguished major in philosophy. Mr. Mutter, of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., majored in English and religious studies, and was graduated in 2003. Since graduating, he has worked as a missionary in a Partners in Health rural hospital in Haiti, where he works with HIV/AIDS patients. Ms. Sullivan will pursue the B.Phil. in philosophy. Mr. Mutter will pursue the M. Phil. in theology. This is the seventh time two of our students have won Rhodes Scholarships in the same year. These two were chosen from among 904 finalists. They bring the total number of University Rhodes Scholars to 45.
  • Markus Weisner, 23, of Richmond, a third-year student in Engineering and Applied Science and a volunteer firefighter, is both a 2004 Truman Scholar and a 2005 Mitchell Scholar. A dual U.S. and German citizen and a systems and information engineering student, Mr. Weisner will study fire safety management at Trinity College in Dublin. Of the three U.Va. students who have won Mitchells, Mr. Weisner will be the first to study in the Republic of Ireland. The two previous recipients studied in Belfast.

There is more to tell, but I hope these samples suggest what I think is the enduring truth—that people of genuine talent, drive and vision, people with the will to change our world, accomplish great things, things that add value to the entire community. In that context, please join me in celebrating yet another fine spring in the Academical Village. Mr. Jefferson was right to put his confidence in the people.

John T. Casteen III