Letter From Grounds

November, 2012

Dear Alumni, Parents and Friends,

The University of Virginia continues to remain a paragon of academic excellence and athletic prowess.  Members of the University Community remain as busy as ever, demonstrating their leadership and work ethic in a variety of ways.  After the turbulent events of this past summer, the University stands united and is prepared for the future.

In September, U.S. News announced an increase in our ranking, from 25th to 24th best University overall, a ranking we share with the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.  UVA remains the 2nd best public university and excels in disciplines across the board.  “The U.S. News rankings show again that UVA is an exceptional university, one that is run efficiently and an excellent value,” President Sullivan remarked on the rankings.  The University is also ranked number one for financial aid among public institutions, and second among public and private institutions.

This summer, 11 UVA athletes competed in the London Olympics. Two of UVA’s four swimming athletes were gold medalists, Matt McLean and Lauren Perdue, in their respective 200-meter freestyle relays.  UVA athletes also competed in London in rowing, equestrian, and tennis, often breaking national or personal records.

UVA’s football team began their season with wins against Richmond and Penn State.  While the team has since had several disappointing losses, the initial impetus as well as last year’s successes demonstrates the team’s potential going forward.  Four men’s lacrosse athletes competed on the United States men’s national under-19 team at the 2012 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U19 Men’s World Championship in Turku, Finland. With its four representatives on the 23-member team, the University was more represented than any other university.

Both the College Republicans and the University Democrats have been campaigning vigorously in a state that remains one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds of this year’s presidential election.  Meanwhile, Student Council’s Legislative Affairs Committee has organized lighthearted political events that students of all political backgrounds can enjoy, including a trivia night and a satirical debate.

On the 11th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the University offered a silent space in the Kaleidoscope Room of Newcomb Hall, with blank posters around the room for students to write down their feelings, memories, or the name of someone they knew who perished in the attack.  In the evening Charlottesville’s Fire Chief spoke to University students, and a candlelight vigil was held in the Amphitheater.

The Honor Committee continued pursuing its goal to educate the University committee on the principles of honor with a roundtable discussion in Old Cabell Hall on September 11th.  The forum included President Teresa Sullivan, Faculty Senate Chair George Cohen, William B. Christian Professor of English Michael Levenson, and Student Board of Visitors member Hillary Hurd.  The discussion was moderated by Dean of Students Allen Groves.

The University will be offering five, free online courses in January, three from the College of Arts and Sciences and two from the Darden School of Business.  The three College courses are physics professor Lou Bloomfield’s class “How Things Work,” philosophy professor Mitch Green’s “Know Thyself,” and History Professor Philip Zelikow’s “Global History since 1760.”  Darden will be offering a two-part course on growing private businesses, taught by Professor of Business Education Edward Hess.  Over 60,000 people have already registered for one or more of these courses.

On September 15th, President Sullivan spoke at the Miller Center, addressing the turbulent events of this summer and her plan to move the University forward.  The focus of the event was primarily on the future of the University, and was titled “The Way Forward.”  “The events in June brought UVA’s challenges into sharp focus.” President Sullivan reflected.  “But the University is not in crisis.  By any measure.  The reality remains that UVA is one of the strongest, best managed, most financially stable and most affordable universities in the country.”  President Sullivan addressed University competitiveness, faculty retention, and financing.  President Sullivan also lamented the decreasing funding for education from the national and state government.  “There seems to be a stark disconnect between our national aspirations and our national investments,” Sullivan opined.  “We want a solid gold higher education system, but we’re content to build it with scrap metal and rusty auto parts.”  President Sullivan expressed no resentment or frustration over the attempted ouster of this summer, emphasizing the importance of looking forward, not back.  The events of the summer tested the University’s unity and principles, but it is clear that the University has emerged stronger and more united.

Sincerely,

UVA Clubs Student Ambassadors