The University of Virginia

The University of Virginia, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains 110 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., is in many ways a unique institution. Perhaps more than any other major American university, it bears the stamp of one individual-its founder, Thomas Jefferson. In the last decade of his life (1816-1825), Mr. Jefferson conceived the idea of a state-supported college in Virginia, selected the site near his home, Monticello, persuaded the state legislature to provide funds, cajoled his friends for financial support, designed the original buildings and supervised their construction, hired the first faculty, and prepared the first curriculum. His concept was a radical one for the United States at the time: students and faculty living together in an "academical village" consisting of a number of buildings arranged around an open grassy area ("The Lawn") and connected by a roofed, colonnaded walkway at one end of which stands the famous rotunda modeled on the Roman Pantheon. The University opened in 1825 with three U.S. Presidents among its founders: James Madison, James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson. In more recent times another President, Woodrow Wilson, studied here.

The original Jeffersonian buildings and Lawn are still intact and, remarkably, continue to be used as residences by some faculty members and by a selected group of students. There are few higher honors for a student than to be selected to live on the Lawn, despite rather spartan living arrangements.

The University has long since grown far beyond its original 68 students and 8 faculty and today numbers about 18,000 students and 1,600 full-time faculty. The beauty and historic significance of the Lawn remains intact today. In 1976, the American Institute of Architects selected the University as the finest achievement of American architecture in the 200-year history of the nation. The student-operated Honor System, initiated in 1842, following a series of faculty-student confrontations, lends a unique atmosphere of mutual trust to the University community. No exams are proctored and local merchants cash students' checks with minimal identification. Despite strains and changes over the years, the Honor System remains as one the few successful operations of its kind in the U.S., perhaps because it is entirely in the hands of the students.

Although a state institution, the University in many respects resembles a private school. Its endowment and trusts total over $200 million, third highest in the U.S. among public Universities. Also of significance are the high admission standards (the highest of any state university in the U.S. at the undergraduate level) and the national character of the University, 40% of the student body coming from outside Virginia.

The proximity of the University to the nation's capital (a two-hour drive or half-hour commercial flight away) provides stimulus for many seminars and events involving prominent figures in government and academe. Indeed, many past and present members of Congress are UVa alumni.

The University has schools of law, medicine, commerce, business, engineering, architecture, nursing, education, and arts and sciences, the last named being the largest and oldest. The curriculum at the University currently offers more that 50 bachelors degrees, 90 masters degrees, 6 educational specialist degrees, and 55 doctoral degrees. The concentration of all major schools of the University on one central campus facilitates many types of interdisciplinary activity.

Living in Charlottesville

The University of Virginia is located in the city of Charlottesville, a metropolitan area (including the surrounding Albemarle county) with a population of about 130,000. The city is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, approximately 110 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., and 70 miles west of Richmond. Twenty-one miles to the west are the Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park. Charlottesville was the home of two past United States Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Their residences, Monticello and Ash Lawn, respectively, are nearby and open to the public. The home of a third President, James Madison's Montpelier, is located on 2700 acres in nearby Orange County and has also recently opened to the public. The beautiful surroundings and historic sites in and about the city have attracted a vigorous tourist industry which brings over $100 million/year to the local economy.

While the surrounding country is largely rural and contains numerous estates in its rolling hills, Charlottesville itself supports a variety of businesses and services, as well as light industrial and research and development plants, including divisions of the General Electric Company and the Sperry Corporation. A wide range of activities are available in the city, including numerous nightclubs, restaurants, and theaters which cater to a wide range of tastes. Charlottesville benefits from its convenient location in attracting nationally recognized musical talent in all the genres (rock, jazz, and classical). The city is also the home of the annual Virginia Festival of American Film which includes screening of numerous films, many in their debut, and activities involving highly regarded filmmakers and actors.

Not surprisingly, the University is a significant contributor to the local culture. The Virginia Players at the University produce at least eight major plays during the year, plus many workshop performances. The University of Virginia Glee Club, th Virginia Singers, and the University and Community Orchestra perform regularly, and there are chamber music concerts under the sponsorship of the Department of Music. The Tuesday Evening Concert Series sponsors programs of visiting chamber ensembles, vocalists, and solo instrumentalists. The proximity of the University to Washington allows frequent talks by persons prominent in public affairs under the auspices of the School of Law, the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, and the Corcoran Department of History. In addition, the Student Legal forum sponsors addresses by outstanding individuals including, senators, governors, supreme court justices and other distinguished speakers.

The University of Virginia participates in the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference in men's and women's intercollegiate athletics. Many of these programs, including football, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer, have risen to national prominence in recent years. Squash, handball, swimming, and gymnasium facilities are available for use by the individual. There are numerous tennis courts on the University Grounds and both indoor and outdoor tennis facilities are also available in Charlottesville. The University supports a large and active intramural program which provides activities for diverse interests.

The Department of Chemistry

The University of Virginia Department of Chemistry is of medium size, combining outstanding physical facilities with a close-knit community of scholars. With a faculty numbering in the mid-twenties and a graduate student body of about 110, together with more than forty postdoctoral fellows, a stimulating atmosphere strongly encouraging interactive association has been created. The faculty, which includes professors who are nationally and internationally recognized in their fields, spans a wide range of research areas offering a varied program of courses and research problems. A graduate student can expect to have considerable input in both the design of his or her own degree program as well as in matters pertaining to the operation of the Department as a whole.

The goal of graduate study in chemistry is to develop outstanding young scientists able to make significant contributions in their chosen fields. With this in mind, emphasis is placed on research that contributes to our fundamental body of knowledge. Also important is the exceptional opportunity to interact not only with fellow graduate students, postdoctorals and faculty, but also with oustanding scientists from all parts of the country and world. This participation in the forefront of scientific discovery prepares the student for the role of independent contributor to the scientific community.

Teaching and research in the Department of Chemistry have been considerably strengthened in recent years by a number of grants from government and private sources, including National Science Foundation Major Development (Center of Excellence) Awards in the 1960's and the 1970's. In 1976, a large private bequest to the University provided funds for equipment and scholarships. These funds, administered through the Center for Advanced Studies, have permitted acquisition of excellent instrumentation facilities. The NSF grants led to the establishment of an outstanding research program in molecular structure. The Department has also made a major commitment to research in biological and biophysical chemistry. These programs, along with ongoing research in analytical methods, synthetic inorganic and organic chemistry, spectroscopy and other areas of physical chemistry, provide the student with a choice of strong research areas over a broad range of the chemical sciences. The faculty attracts approximately $5 million yearly in outside funding to support these programs, an indicator of the vigor of research being carried out in the Department.

The graduate program is further supported by an extensive library system. The Barksdale Chemistry Library, established by private gifts, contains about 19,000 volumes on chemistry-related subjects. Up-to-date sets of the important chemical journals, as well as all books, are readily accessible. Alderman Library has more than 1.6 million books as well as extensive collections of manuscripts, maps, prints, and microfilms. The Science and Engineering Library, the large library of the Medical School, and the Physics Library contain numerous additional books and journals in chemistry and allied fields.

The Department of Biology

Over the past decade we have witnessed unprecedented growth in the sophistication of biological research, bringing us close to a complete understanding of some basic biological processes. During this "golden period" of research opportunity, leading universities have been required to make substantial investments to recruit new highly trained faculty, acquire sophisticated instrumentation and develop new and creative ways for investigators to interact beyond traditional departmental boundaries. The University of Virginia has made such a commitment. The establishment of new multidisciplinary institutes, together with enormous investments by the Commonwealth and University in state-of-the-art research instrumentation has led to a dramatic increase in the scope of biological research at the University and is continuing to provide exceptional opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral education.

The major areas of concentration for study in Biology are developmental biology, molecular genetics and cell biology, plant biology, population biology, the Mountain Lake Biological Station, neurobiology and behavior. In addition to 33 faculty members, the Department of Biology includes approximately 60 graduate students, 90 percent of whom are Ph.D. candidates. 80 percent of the graduate students are from out of state, including a number from foreign countries. All were selected because of their interest in and potential for biological research. More than 25 postdoctoral fellows and about 30 research and technical assistants also contribute to research programs in the Biology Department. The research activities of Biology facultymembers are currently supported by more than forty investigator-initiated research grants awarded from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other government agencies or private foundations. Faculty members in the Department of Biology, together with other biologists in the basic science departments of the School of Medicine and in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Chemistry, comprise a large community of biologist, enhancing educational and research opportunities. The Department participates in three interdisciplinary institutes: the Molecular Biology Institute, the NSF Center in Biological Timing, and the Markey Center in Signal Transduction and several multi-departmental training grants; Biophysics, Neuroscience, and Cell and Molecular Biology. The Biology Department also administers the Mountain Lake Biological Station which provides several unique opportunities for field study in the Allegheny mountains of Southwest Virginia.