University of Virginia

Undergraduate Record 1995-1996

Chapter 1: University of Virginia

We wish 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


The University of Virginia, on the verge 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 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.

The University Grounds

Jefferson chose an undeveloped plot of land on the edge of Charlottesville on which to locate the University of Virginia. Jefferson was a skillful architect, a consummate builder, and an inveterate tinkerer. His belief in public service, his respect for the achievements of the past, his sense of balance and proportion are expressed in the buildings he designed for his "academical village."

This educational community was built around a rectangular, terraced green -- the Lawn -- flanked by two continuous rows of identical, one-story rooms. These rows are accented by large buildings, the Pavilions, each in a different style. Both the rooms and the Pavilions open onto a colonnaded walkway fronting the Lawn. Behind each of the two rows of buildings are public gardens delineated by serpentine brick walls and backed by yet another set of rooms. The Rotunda, a half-scale model of the Roman Pantheon, closes off one end of the Lawn, while the south end was originally left open to a vista of the mountains.

The genius of Jefferson's design is that it integrates housing for students and faculty as well as classroom and library space into a single unit. Students lived on the Lawn and in the outer two rows of rooms, the Ranges. Faculty members lived in the Pavilions; the Rotunda held the library and classroom space.

Although the University has grown since Jefferson's time, the Lawn remains the intellectual and spiritual heart of the academical village and serves much of its original purpose. Students who have made special contributions to the University are awarded a Lawn room in their fourth-year; senior faculty and their families live in the Pavilions, where classes are also held; and graduate students live in the Ranges. The Rotunda's oval rooms and the Dome Room are used for meetings of the Board of Visitors, dinners, and other ceremonial occasions, as well as for student activities.

The special grace and character of Jefferson's design are widely recognized. As Ada Louise Huxtable has noted in the New York Times,  the University "is probably the single most beautiful and effective architectural group of its kind in the country, or in the history of American building." In 1976, the American Institute of Architects proclaimed it one of the outstanding achievements in American architecture; in 1988, the Lawn was named to the prestigious World Heritage List.

The University Today

Although the University of Virginia has expanded to encompass more than one thousand acres, it still retains the intimacy that characterized the academic village. University planners have been careful to reserve open space for study and contemplation while erecting modern facilities for each of the six undergraduate schools.

Each year, the area attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists, who come to see the Grounds of the University, visit the homes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, tour local wineries, and hike through the Shenandoah National Park, just 20 miles west in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Charlottesville has its own traditions. The community celebrates each spring with a Dogwood Festival and New Year's Eve with First Night Virginia fireworks and entertainment. Steeplechase fans attend the Foxfield Races and every spring, runners in the Charlottesville Ten-Miler rush through town toward the finish line at University Hall.

A pedestrian mall downtown offers fine dining, distinctive shops, and nightspots in a historical section of the city. In the Court Square area, lawyers and business people occupy offices in buildings dating back to the 1700s. The city is known for its fine restaurants, appealing to every taste and budget, and many establishments present nightly entertainment by local artists. The Virginia Festival of American Film, is held at the University of Virginia brings new visitors and celebrities to the area each fall, along with movies, seminars, and premieres.

Charlottesville is located 120 miles from Washington, D.C. and 70 miles from Richmond. Airlines offer more than 30 flights daily to such destinations as New York, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Pittsburgh. Major highways convenient to the city include Interstate 64 and U.S. Route 29. Nationwide bus and railway service for passengers and freight is provided by Greyhound, AMTRAK, Norfolk Southern, and the CSX Corporation. The Charlottesville Transit System and the University Transit System provide bus service on Grounds and around the city. Maps of the University are available free of charge from the University of Virginia Visitor's Center at 2304 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, Va. 22903.

The Faculty

In creating an academical village, Jefferson sought scholars who had distinguished reputations and were willing to live among their students -- an unusual, but from Jefferson's point of view, essential combination. The University of Virginia faculty, one of the most distinguished groups of scholars and researchers in the country, still exemplifies this tradition.

The University's full-time faculty numbers almost 2,000, most of whom conduct research and publish their findings on a regular basis. The University has established more than 350 endowed professorships for outstanding scholars, and the Center for Advanced Studies plays a major role in attracting and retaining scholars of national and international distinction.

University faculty have consistently been active in the intellectual and practical life of the country. Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know,  by English professor E.D. Hirsch, has transformed the national debate about literacy and made it a subject of household conversation. Dr. Janine Jagger, an epidemiologist in the School of Medicine, was recognized for inventing a retractable safety needle to protect health care workers from such infectious diseases as hepatitis B and AIDS.

University faculty members have received many national and international awards. Four faculty members were made Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year: Jerome J. McGann, the John Stewart Bryan Professor of English; Patricia M. Spacks, the Edgar E. Shannon Professor and chair of the English Department; E. Mavis Hetherington, the James M. Page Professor of Psychology; and G. Edward White, the John B. Minor Professor of Law. Hetherington was also named a William James Fellow by the American Psychological Association, and Spacks assumed the presidency of the Modern Language Association. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove is a distinguished member of the English department faculty. Dove is serving her second year as the nation's poet laureate, nominated in 1993 for the position by President Clinton. History Professor Edward L. Ayers's book, The Promise of the New South,  published by Oxford University Press, was nominated in 1992 for a National Book Award.

Eleven University faculty members have received the prestigious Humboldt Award for Senior U.S. Scientists; 12 faculty members have received American Council of Learned Societies research awards in the past five years; 26 faculty members have been Fulbright Scholars in the past six years; 18 faculty members have been Guggenheim Fellows in the past seven years; six faculty members have been National Endowment for the Humanities Fellows in the past four years; and one was named a Fulbright Distinguished Fellow. Three faculty researchers have won Presidential Young Investigator awards since the program began in 1984; four researchers have won Sloan Foundation awards in the past five years; and three of the four recipients of Virginia's Outstanding Scientist Award have been University faculty since the program's beginning in 1985. A medical school faculty member received the Abraham Flexner Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Association of American Medical Colleges, and one has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow. An engineering faculty member was elected into the National Academy of Engineering. A physics professor was selected by the National Science Foundation as an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator and awarded $330,000 in research funds for three years. The Society of Women Engineers named a woman faculty member as the recipient of its most prestigious honor, the Achievement Award. The chair of the anesthesiology department was among new members elected to the National Institute of Medicine, a component of the National Academy of Sciences. The chair of the psychology department was elected this year as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Despite the demands of research and writing, University faculty are remarkably attentive to the needs of their students. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, faculty members serve as academic advisors. Professors routinely post office hours, and U.Va. students do not hesitate to use them. It's not unusual to encounter students clustered in the hall outside a professor's office, waiting for a chance to discuss papers or review classwork.

Student Achievement

The quality of the student body is evident in the awards and honors many of them receive. The University has graduated 41 Rhodes Scholars, the highest number graduated by state universities. The University is attracting some of the very best students in the country through the merit-based Jefferson Scholars Program. Thirty-five percent of the undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences are on the dean's list.

Four years at U.Va. prepares students well for becoming adults who are thinking, contributing members of society. Whether they go directly to a job (many do), teach English in Africa for the year, enroll in law or medical school (to which U.Va. students are accepted at well above the national average), or enter graduate school to pursue the scholarly life as a profession, their undergraduate years at Virginia provide the chance to explore subjects and ideas that will lay the foundation for their future careers and lives.


A member of the highly-competitive Atlantic Coast conference, Virginia fields 12 intercollegiate sports for men and 12 for women. The newest addition is women's crew, which joins the Virginia intercollegiate athletic program during the 1995-96 academic year.

The overall success of Virginia's varsity teams in recent years can be matched by few schools in the country. Over the past six years alone, U.Va. has claimed five national championships in men's soccer and two in women's lacrosse. In 1993, Virginia became the first school in NCAA history to win three consecutive national men's soccer titles. Remarkably, the Cavaliers topped that achievement in 1994 by capturing their fourth national title in a row and fifth in six years.

The Virginia football team has made six bowl appearances in the last eight years. Most recently, the Cavaliers defeated Texas Christian University 20-10 in the 1994 Independence Bowl. In 1990, U.Va. climbed to number one in the regular season national polls (Associated Press and United Press International) and played Tennessee in the 1991 USF&G Sugar Bowl. The 1989 Cavaliers won a share of U.Va's first ever ACC championship and met Illinois in the 1990 Florida Citrus Bowl. Off the field, Virginia has been honored every year since 1984 by the College Football Association for its graduation rate involving scholarship football players.

The men's basketball team won a share of the ACC regular season championship in 1994-95 and advanced to the finals of the NCAA Midwest Region Tournament. It was Virginia's 17th postseason appearance in 18 seasons. UVa has won two National Invitation Tournament championships (in 1980 and 1992) and has reached the NCAA Final Four twice (in 1981 and 1984).

The women's basketball team won its fifth consecutive ACC regular season title in 1994-95 and advanced to the finals of the NCAA East Regional. It marked the Cavalier's 12th straight trip to NCAA postseason play. UVa reached the NCAA Final Four three consecutive years, from 1990-92. Virginia regularly wins its share of state, conference and national honors in many other sports as well. At the same time, U.Va. student-athletes graduate at a rate which is comparable to that of the University's entire student body.

University and Community Arts

The University contributes to the cultural milieu with a wide range of events sponsored by academic departments and student groups. Among these are the Tuesday Evening Concert Series; the University Union Speakers Series; talks by government officials and public figures sponsored by the Student Legal Forum; several student singing groups; and a Collegium Musicum baroque group sponsored by the music department.

The University's Bayly Museum's broad-ranging art collections include outstanding examples of twentieth-century American art and European art from Jefferson's era. The Bayly's growing permanent collections are supplemented by frequent visiting shows, the Fayerweather Gallery, which displays student and faculty art and other exhibits, and several private galleries in the city of Charlottesville.

Dramatic productions are presented year round by professional and local groups, including the highly acclaimed Heritage Repertory Theatre and the Virginia Players in the University's well-equipped drama and fine arts center. The theatre department regularly presents drama, musicals, and small workshop productions by students in the Culbreth and Helms theatres.

The Honor System

The honor system is one of the University's oldest and most venerated traditions. Based on the fundamental assumption that anyone who enrolls at the University subscribes to a code of ethics forbidding lying, cheating, and stealing, the Honor System allows students the kind of personal freedom possible only in an environment where respect and trust are presumed. For more than 150 years this system has been administered by students.

The Libraries

The sixteen libraries at the University of Virginia house more than 4 million volumes and receive more than 20,000 periodicals and newspapers from around the world. On-line catalogs of the collections and on-line access to newspaper and journal articles are available in all library locations, and may also be accessed from home and office computers. Alderman Library houses collections in the humanities and social sciences as well as a comprehensive reference collection, government documents, the Electronic Text Center, and the Special Collections Department. The Clemons Library provides a general collection of frequently-used materials, reserve reading, video and audio materials, group study rooms, computer terminals for faculty and student use, and computers and reading machines for the visually disabled. The Science and Engineering Library and its science branches (Biology/Psychology, Chemistry, Math/Astronomy, and Physics), and the Commerce, Education, Fine Arts, and Music libraries serve the research needs of those disciplines.

The library needs of the University's professional schools are served by the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, the Camp Library in the Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, and the Arthur J. Morris Law Library.

Information Technology and Communication Computer Facilities

Information Technology and Communication (ITC) supports the University's instructional and research activities, administrative processes, and facilities communication and transmission of information for all University departments. To perform these functions, ITC maintains a wide variety of computing environments and peripheral equipment that is available to faculty, students and staff. Included are: an IBM 3090/400E, MVS/XA operating systems; IBM RiscSystem/6000s, AIX operating system; Sun-4 and Sun-3 workstations, SunOS operating system, NeXT workstations, Mach/BSD 4.3 UNIX operating system; IBM-PC compatible microcomputers, MS-DOS; Apple Macintoshes; and graphics equipment.

The majority of the microcomputers, Macintoshes, workstations, printers and graphics equipment supported by ITC are located in public facilities throughout the Grounds for ease of student access. Software available for these systems includes programming languages as well as word processing, communications, mathematical, statistical and graphics packages.

High-speed interactive terminals access (telnet), file transfer (ftp) and electronic mail service are available from all systems, and access is provided to Internet. On-line information retrieval systems include a Grounds-Wide Information System, GWIS, based on the Gopher and WWW protocols; Library Information, VIRGO; and the University Directory, whois. Consulting, training, and documentation are available for all these services.


As a leader among public institutions, the University supports research and scholarship in many fields. Research in the humanities has been a long-recognized strength at the University, and programs in the biomedical, physical, and engineering sciences have developed as areas of excellence. Research in the sciences is supported by a University-wide computer network, state-of-the-art facilities for the study of DNA, two astronomical telescopes, a nuclear reactor, and an impressive variety of equipment for the analysis and imaging of substances. The Aerospace Research Laboratory was dedicated in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. This laboratory will study the technical aspects of the National Aero-Space Plane, which is designed to take off from an airport and fly into space orbit.

In the spring of 1989, the University became the first U.S. environmental research center of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). This nongovernmental research institute brings together scientists from more than 20 nations and a variety of disciplines to work jointly on problems of international significance, including the environment, population growth, technological risk, international negotiations, and food and agriculture.

New research instrumentation is being acquired continuously at a rate in excess of $10 million each year. In the past year, external support of research programs reached $135 million. The University is among the top one hundred public universities in competitively-awarded federal grants.


The University of Virginia was chartered by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1819. It is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. The University is one of a select group of 58 American and Canadian universities chosen for membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. The Master of Landscape Architecture is accredited by the American Society of Landscape Architecture, Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board. The Master of Architecture degree is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. The Urban and Environmental Planning degree program is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. The Curry School of Education and all of its programs to prepare school personnel are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

In addition, individual program specializations are accredited by such organizations as the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association, the National Athletic Training Association and the Council for Exceptional Children. The McIntire School of Commerce and the Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration are accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. The School of Law is accredited by the American Bar Association and the American Association of Law Schools. The engineering degree programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science are accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology. The School of Nursing is accredited by the National League for Nursing and the Virginia State Board of Nursing. The chemistry and music programs in the College of Arts and Sciences are accredited by the American Chemical Society and the National Association of Schools of Music respectively. The M.D. degree in the School of Medicine is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (representing the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association and Executive Council of the Association of American Medical Colleges).