to establish in the upper and healthier country, and more centrally for the state,
a University on a plan so broad and liberal and modern, as to be worth patronizing
with the public support." Thomas Jefferson
of Virginia, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, is a vigorous,
modern institution, animated by the forward-looking spirit of its founder, Thomas
Jefferson. Jefferson's powerful convictions--the idea that the university exists
to train young people for public affairs and the belief that the liberal arts
constitute the foundation for any education--continue to inspire its students
and faculty and guide the development of its programs.
Jefferson was a man of many talents, and he expressed
them fully in founding the University of Virginia in 1819; he outlined the institution's
purpose, designed its buildings, supervised construction, and planned its curriculum.
He also directed the recruitment of its initial faculty.
When classes began in 1825, with 68 students and
a faculty of eight, the University of Virginia embodied dramatic new ideas in
American higher education. In an era when colleges trained scholars for the clergy
and academia, Jefferson dedicated his University to the education of citizens
in practical affairs and public service. The innovative curriculum permitted the
student a broader range of study than was available at other colleges and universities
of the day, and Jefferson implemented novel ideas concerning student self-government
and religious freedom.