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    University of Virginia
   
 
  Sep 25, 2017
 
 
    
Summer Record 2012 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

The University of Virginia


The University of Virginia


 

Click on a link to be taken to the entry below.

   

 


History

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The University of Virginia 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. As the first rector, Jefferson presided over the school’s governing body, the Board of Visitors. James Monroe and James Madison both served on the board in the school’s early years.

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

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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, known as the Ranges. Faculty members lived in the Pavilions, while 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

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Although the University of Virginia has expanded to encompass more than one thousand acres, it still retains the intimacy that characterized the academical 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 Film Festival brings new visitors and celebrities to the area each fall, along with movies, seminars, and premieres. The Virginia Festival of the Book brings poets, writers, and novelists to Charlottesville each spring.

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., Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, 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 Service and the University Transit Service provide bus service on Grounds and around the city. Visitors to the University are always welcome. On-street parking is limited, so visitors are encouraged to park at the paid hourly Central Grounds Parking Garage off Emmet Street.

Maps of the University are available for visitors at the University’s Visitor/Information Center at 2304 Ivy Road in Charlottesville (follow signs from 29N or Interstate 64 to the University Information Center). Brochures about the University and walking tours of the Rotunda, the Pavilion Gardens, and the historic Academical Village can be obtained at the Rotunda. Books about Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, and the University of Virginia may be purchased at the University Bookstore, located atop the Central Grounds Parking Garage.

Voices of Diversity at UVa

We at the University of Virginia envision a community of understanding, tolerance, and respect. 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 backgrounds, our own expectations, our own prior experience.

For additional information about the University of Virginia’s Initiatives on Diversity, please visit www.virginia.edu/uvadiversity.

The Electronic University

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More information about the University is available online at:www.virginia.edu

 

 

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