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Letter to Students, August 19, 2009

Dear University students:

As you know, President Casteen announced in June that he would retire next summer at the conclusion of his 20th year.

We have been fortunate to have President Casteen's extraordinary leadership, and as a result I believe we are well positioned to find an able successor who will continue the work of further distinguishing the University.

It is the responsibility of the Board of Visitors - and, in fact, its most important task - to find the very best person to take over the helm of our great institution.

We have assembled a talented search committee, which includes two students, ready to assist us in meeting this challenge. Information about the committee and the search can be found at

To complete our search successfully, we must act in the best interest of all those who care deeply about the University. Listening to the ideas, viewpoints, and opinions of members of the University community is vital to the process. In the coming weeks, the committee will hold a series of open forums in order to hear what members of the University community believe are important qualities and considerations for our next president.

We are posing the same three questions in the forums to all those interested in offering input. They are:

  1. What opportunities and challenges do you see facing the University of Virginia in the next 10 years?
  2. What qualifications/personal leadership characteristics should the next president possess to take advantage of the opportunities and address the challenges?
  3. What other considerations should the committee bear in mind as we initiate this search process?

All forum sessions are open to anyone who wishes to attend, including members of the local community. The dates, times, and locations for the forums follow:

  • Aug. 25, 10 a.m.-noon, Newcomb Hall ballroom.
  • Aug. 25, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Zehmer Hall auditorium.
  • Sept. 1, 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., McLeod Hall auditorium.
  • Sept. 1, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., Newcomb Hall ballroom.
  • Sept. 12, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Alumni Hall ballroom.
  • Sept. 29, 2009, 2-4 p.m., College at Wise Slemp Center, Dogwood Room.

Because we seek the broadest participation possible, we have created an online form that allows students to share opinions even if they are unable to attend one of the forums.

I hope you will take a few moments to share your thoughts as we embark on this important milestone in the University's history - the selection of the University of Virginia's eighth president.

With kind regards,

John O. Wynne
University Rector
Chairman, Special Committee on the Nomination of a President