Thursday, November 27, 2014

Flashback Thursday University of Virginia

University of Virginia

Founded and designed by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia was the project of his old age. Not only was he an active contributor but he hosted dinners for the students at his home, Monticello. The design of the university is unique. He planned 10 pavilions where professors would live upstairs and teach downstairs and these were connected by one level high student housing. At the head of the lawn would stand the library, at most universities it would have been the chapel. It was founded on logic and knowledge and here was no religious affiliation.

It is a beautiful campus and the Rotunda is outstanding. Guided tours are offered by students of the University and we opted to take the tour. We met in the Rotunda. Here we learn that this is not the original building. In 1895 the Rotunda burned to the ground and what was rebuilt was an exact replica.

While we are touring the Rotunda we get to see the ‘hot seat" the chair where doctoral candidates read their dissertation. If it isn’t up to standards, they take it from your hands and throw it in the fire. You need to be able to climb stairs to take this tour. We went up three flights of stairs.

After touring inside we walk out to the lawn to hear about the "Code of Honor" and the student housing along the lawn.  Fifty-four 4th year students receive the honor of living in the lawn housing. We were lucky because one of our guide’s friends has housing here and he opened his door and let us see his room. They are very nice and historic but they have no plumbing. Students must use public bathrooms and showers. Professors are also chosen to have the Pavilion housing; they however get to stay until they want to move out.

The University was founded in 1825 and had 123 students. In 1995 there were 18,000 students. The University remained open during the Civil War and even though the enrollment dropped to below 100, it was able to survive. The first Afro-American student graduated from UVA in 1953. Today the University of Virginia is ranked #2 in Public Universities in the U.S. and among private and public #24. Mr. Jefferson would be very  proud.

The guided tour takes about an hour but allow more time to enjoy walking around the campus on your own. 

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