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University of Virginia

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA


The University of Virginia, known since its founding in 1819 as "Mr. Jefferson's University," has personified, in past and present, a distinctive approach to public higher education whose integration of academic vision and architectural environment attracts national and international acclaim.

The University of Virginia remains one of Thomas Jefferson's greatest legacies. The former president led a commission that chose the institution's location, devised the architectural plans for the grounds, and crafted the curriculum. The Board of Visitors nominated Jefferson as the university's first rector. His desire to build a strong faculty encouraged hiring distinguished national and international scholars rather than local clergy.

Early Years

Jefferson's "academical village" consisted of eight independent schools and offered a radical departure from the rigid curriculum, strict discipline, and theological dogmatism that characterized many American colleges. Students chose their own classes and earned a degree after meeting a school's requirements. In place of the customary bachelor of arts, Virginia offered a master of arts degree to students completing programs in five of the colleges. To encourage self-government, the university vested power in the rector and in the faculty chair rather than in a president. Governing rowdy students, however, became a problem. Serious student riots occurred throughout the 1830s and climaxed in 1840 when a student shot and killed a professor. In the wake of this unrest the university implemented a student honor code, one of the institution's greatest legacies. Virginia students displayed both "honor and dishonor" in their conduct before the Civil War. The university's regional provincialism also precluded attracting a true "aristocracy of talent," and its relatively high tuition prevented attendance by modest-income students. Its presumption of racial and gender exclusion also prohibited the enrollment of African Americans and women.

The university prospered during the antebellum years, but the Civil War brought great hardship to Charlottesville. Prewar enrollments exceeded 600, while literary societies and student groups flourished. In contrast, attendance during the Civil War averaged sixty-four students. U.S. General George Armstrong Custer spared the campus from destruction in 1865. Unlike many other universities in the South, Virginia rebounded quickly.

Growing enrollments and institutional complexity prompted the board to appoint a president. After Woodrow Wilson declined the board's invitation, Edwin Anderson Alderman accepted the presidency in 1904. That same year Virginia accepted a membership invitation from the Association of American Universities, making the university the first southern institution to receive such an honor.

The Twentieth Century and Future Directions

Along with changing curricula, Virginia responded selectively to social justice issues. In 1920 the university first admitted women to some graduate and professional departments, although women were not accepted on the same basis as men in Charlottesville until 1970. African Americans first attended Virginia in 1950. When a court order mandated admission, the university complied and avoided much of the strife that engulfed other southern campuses during the civil rights movement. In 1953 it became the first major university in the South to award a doctorate to an African-American student.

After World War II Virginia expanded its programs while distinguishing itself as one of the nation's best universities. Enrollment for the school year beginning in 2001 totaled 18,848 students. In 2001 Virginia achieved the highest graduation and retention rates of any public institution. The library system includes fifteen libraries with more than 4 million holdings. In addition, the Cavaliers compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division I athletics as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

A continuing legacy of the university is its architectural design. Original construction of Jefferson's "academical village" provided a symbol of his Enlightenment faith. On October 27, 1895, fire destroyed the Rotunda, the architectural centerpiece that housed the library. The university rebuilt the structure, which underwent renovation during the 1970s. Other institutional reforms during the late twentieth century included curbing the tradition of excessive student drinking. The historic student honor code faced a severe test in 2001 when a computer program detected widespread plagiarism in a physics class.

During the tenure of John T. Casteen III, who became president in 1990, Virginia's capital campaign raised more than $1.4 billionthe largest effort of any state university. The institution used its good fortune to promote sound educational programs. Casteen's remarkably thoughtful presidential addresses acknowledged Virginia's unfortunate heritage of racial inequity in admissions and committed the university to correcting that social injustice.

Virginia offers forty-eight bachelor's degrees and fifty-five doctoral degrees along with other graduate and professional programs. U.S. News and World Report ranked Virginia among the top public universities in the nation for 2002. Its schools, including the McIntire School of Commerce, the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, the Law School, and the Medical Center, have received national academic recognition. Virginia has accepted its role as a leader in higher education to promote sound educational values of which Mr. Jefferson would be proud.

See also: Higher Education in the United States, subentry on Historical Development.

bibliography

Abernethy, Thomas Perkins. 1948. Historical Sketch of the University of Virginia. Richmond, VA: Dietz Press.

Bruce, Philip Alexander. 19201922. History of the University of Virginia, 18191919. New York: Macmillan.

Dabney, Virginius. 1981. Mr. Jefferson's University: A History. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Wagoner, Jennings L., Jr. 1988. "Honor and Dishonor at Mister Jefferson's University: The Ante-Bellum Years." History of Education Quarterly 26:155175.

Wilson, Guy, and Butler, Sara A. 1999. The Campus Guide: The University of Virginia. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Eric Moyen

Jason R. Edwards

John R. Thelin

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University of Virginia

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA, founded by Thomas Jefferson at Charlottesville, gained statutory existence in 1819. Developed from an academy charter of 1803, construction began on its buildings in 1817, and eight schools opened in 1825. Its foundation was one of the landmarks in the development of higher public education in America. Jefferson, who was also the architect, spoke of himself as its "father," and in writing the inscription for his tombstone, mentioned his connection with its foundation as one of the three achievements of his life by which he wished to be remembered.

A chairman of the faculty administered the university until 1904, when Edward A. Alderman became the first president. The university has made three specific contributions to American education. First, the University of Virginia secularized scientific thought. The university's devotion to secularism is clear even in the first architectural plans that Jefferson drew up for the institution in which a library rather than a chapel stood at the center of the campus. Second, in 1842 Henry St. George Tucker and his colleagues installed a system of student self-government along lines suggested by Jefferson in 1818. Third, it established, as part of larger tenets of freedom in teaching and learning, an elective system of study. In 1944 Mary Washington College for women, established in 1908 at Fredericksburg, combined with the University of Virginia. Two community colleges, Clinch Valley College and George Mason College, are also associated with the university. In the early 1950s, the previously racially segregated University of Virginia enrolled its first black students. In 1970 the school became coeducational at the undergraduate level.

Outstanding features are its beautiful grounds and neoclassical buildings, its honor system, and its association with Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Famous students have included Edgar Allan Poe, Woodrow Wilson, and Walter Reed. As of 2002, the university enrolled just under 19,000 students with an operating budget of $816.3 million for the academic division and $575.6 million for the medical center. It consistently ranks as one of the top public universities in the United States. Because the quality of its instruction compares favorably with that of the finest private schools in the country, it has earned the unofficial label of a "public ivy" school. Currently, ten schools make up the University of Virginia: the School of Architecture, the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the McIntire School of Commerce, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Nursing, the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, the School of Law, the School of Medicine, the Curry School of Education, and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brawne, Michael. University of Virginia, the Lawn: Thomas Jefferson. London: Phaidon, 1994.

Dabney, Virginius. Mr. Jefferson's University: A History. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1981.

Hellenbrand, Harold. The Unfinished Revolution: Education and Politics in the Thought of Thomas Jefferson. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1990.

Lucas, Christopher J. American Higher Education: A History. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.

John CookWyllie/a. e.

See alsoArchitecture ; Education, Higher: Colleges and Universities ; Ivy League ; Universities, State ; Virginia .

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Division of Personality Studies, University of Virginia

Division of Personality Studies, University of Virginia

In 1968 the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia established a new Division of Parapsychology to develop a broad program of investigation into various aspects of the paranormal. It was given its initial impetus by the longstanding interest in survival of death, specifically in the form of reincar-nation, by Ian Stevenson, a member of the faculty, who was placed in charge of the new structure. Stevenson, noted for his scientific approach to the evidence for reincarnation, had previously won recognition for his essay "The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations"(1961), and had previously pursued the research leading to his monumental book, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966). As head of the division he continued his investigations of reincar-nation cases and also conducted studies in telepathy.

More recently, following Stevenson's retirement, the division has been absorbed into the Division of Personality Studies, and research on the paranormal deemphasized. Address: Division of Personality Studies, Department of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry, Box 152, Medical Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908.

Sources:

Stevenson, Ian. Cases of the Reincarnation Type. 4 vols. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983.

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Virginia, University of

University of Virginia, mainly at Charlottesville; state supported; coeducational; chartered 1819, opened 1825 with Thomas Jefferson as its rector. Jefferson also planned the organization and curriculum and designed its first buildings. A leading Southern university, it was the first U.S. university to use the elective system. The university is known for its law school and for its library, which contains collections in American literature and international law. It also operates a branch college at Wise. Its colonnaded buildings and rectangular "Lawn" are part of the spacious campus. Mary Washington College was consolidated with the Univ. of Virginia from 1944 to 1972.

See G. Wills, Mr. Jefferson's University (2002).

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Department of Personality Studies, University of Virginia

Department of Personality Studies, University of Virginia

Formerly known as "Division of Parapsychology, University of Virginia," the Department of Personality Studies was established in 1968 to develop a broad program of investigations into various aspects of parapsychology. The founding director was Ian Stevenson, noted for his scientific search for evidence of reincarnation. Address: Division of Personality Studies, Department of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry, Box 152, Medical Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908.

(See also Division of Personality Studies, University of Virginia )

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