With more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, many of them seem very much alike. The stories in this report illustrate the ways in which the University of Virginia is different, distinctive among its peers in higher education.
Our distinction begins with the student experience. Our students live and study in the only university in America designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda and Lawn as its centerpiece. These surroundings provide a strong sense of place, while U.Va.’s uncommon size—small for a research university, but larger than most liberal arts colleges—creates an ideal environment for formal and informal interaction between faculty and students, in and out of the classroom. Beyond U.Va.’s unique physical setting, the tradition of student self-governance and the Honor System create a true community of trust that simply does not exist on most campuses. These qualities, combined with rigorous academic work, give shape to a residential learning culture that produces ethical, thoughtful, globally literate citizen-leaders.
The University of Virginia is uniquely focused on leadership as both a personal and institutional imperative. Our students focus on acquiring leadership skills they can apply in their professional and public lives. Our faculty focus on leadership in their research and scholarship and in their professional communities. The University is committed to serving as a leader in the Commonwealth and the nation. One way we do this, as shown in this report, is through collaborative research partnerships that produce new discoveries and strengthen the economy.
Great, distinctive universities do not remain great and distinctive by resting on their laurels. We are building on our existing strengths by hiring the next generation of world-class faculty; by bringing new emphasis to leadership development for students, faculty, and staff; by improving our academic and career advising for students; and by instituting a comprehensive approach to organizational excellence that allows us to manage effectively our limited resources while protecting the University’s academic excellence.
This report is a look back at the past year. But last year’s work, this year’s work, and next year’s work are about building excellence for the future. I am grateful to all who support the University in this effort.
Teresa A. Sullivan