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University Of Virginia President John T. Casteen III Issues Videotaped Message On The Importance Of Diversity

September 2, 2005 -- Today University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III issued a videotaped message in which he discusses the importance of diversity in the University community.

The statement – which will reside on the University’s diversity Web site at www.virginia.edu/uvadiversity -- can be reached from the University’s home page at www.virginia.edu. In addition, it is linked to a dozen other University Web pages, including: For UVA Students, HoosOnline, Alumni Page, Handheld Devices (uvatogo.net), Live Bookmarks (Firefox), MyUva, Prospective Student, President's Page, Parents’ Page, VP Student Affairs, and Dean of Students.

A broadcast-quality version can be obtained by calling the Office of Television News at (434) 924-7550.

A transcript of President Casteen’s videotaped remarks follows:

Our University is at a kind of watershed with regard to matters having to do with diversity and equity within our community. We value diversity here because it has to do with the human richness, the variety of experiences and backgrounds and perspectives and reasons for learning that distinguish us as people based on our own backgrounds, our own expectations, our own prior experience.

Diversity, in a way, is the key to the American Dream in our time. It’s the way to build a culture, a civilization, a nation, in our case a university in which all are free to learn and to contribute. There is no place for intolerance, for bigotry, for hatred and the reason is that each of those behaviors or attitudes deprives others of the capacity to learn, to teach, to exercise the freedoms that universities are committed to.

This community has a powerful moral system. It’s distinctive in part because of its honor system, but it has a fundamental commitment to a system of ethics, to modes of belief that have to do with what the university’s founder described as our natural rights, the rights that we have because we’re human. And those rights belong commonly to all of us.

We believe that in this place the right to learn can’t be abridged because of any person’s age or color or disability or national or ethnic origin or political affiliation or race or religion or sex or sexual orientation or veteran status. Those words which all of us know from policies published in many different contexts have special meaning here.

This community has high standards. It believes in human performance and it believes in enhancing the conditions under which human performance occurs. So the policies have special value in this place. They define the conditions of work.

To sustain a community over time in which diversity is valued involves mutual respect. It involves understanding the importance of the work done by other people and recognizing the values of other people’s backgrounds and contributions.

The decades-long effort to make this University a genuine cross-section of what we are as a nation has begun now to show its first fruits. The varieties of humankind represented here cut across essentially everything we know about our globe.

We do have a diverse student body. Some 30 percent of the women and men who walk these Grounds are persons of color. We have found the values of their experiences, their contributions in every class we teach. We’ve discovered the ways in which all of us enrich our community in common ways.

To take something as old and as venerable as the University of Virginia and to build in it a platform for a republic in which all of us have an equitable share, in which the values of diversity are in fact the values of the republic is a wonderful thing. Let me invite you to join us in doing your part.

Contact: Carol Wood, (434) 924-6189

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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