What Do Women Want?

September 30th, 2013

This post contains an excerpt of my remarks on the acceptance of the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award, September 26, 2013.
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Our Honor

March 6th, 2012

In the late fall of 2010 as the economy was beginning to recover from a crisis that destroyed so much of the wealth of the middle class, a number of documentaries and docudramas appeared that asked probing questions about the causes of this catastrophe. One such film was Inside Job, about the culpability of the nation’s elites—not just on Wall Street and Capitol Hill but at research universities, in faculty offices of “thought leaders” who influence policy. In this film professors appeared as technocrats, publishing papers whose economic analysis benefited the corporations where they served as consultants. Read the rest of this entry »

Forever Young

May 18th, 2011

This week, the TJ Society, a gathering of U.Va. alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago, returned to the Grounds for their reunion. My remarks to them reflect on how the University and its people – much like Mick Jagger, Madonna and other modern “amortals” – evolve and change over time, yet remain ageless in their consciousness and aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »

At Tackle, Chester Pierce

January 31st, 2011

The last post of my blog, tracing the early days of racial integration on Grounds (“The Desegregrated Heart”), sparked a number of fascinating recollections and discussions from our alumni. One was an exchange between two Psychology majors—Tom Pettigrew ’52 and Brawner Cates ’67—about the first integrated football team to play south of the Mason-Dixon Line, Scott Stadium, 1947. On April 15 of that year, Jackie Robinson played first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. On October 11, Chester Pierce, an African-American, played tackle for Harvard against Virginia. It was the practice at that time for integrated college teams to leave their black players at home when they played in the South. Read the rest of this entry »

The Desegregated Heart

January 17th, 2011

On the occasion marking the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., we might pause to reflect on the early days of integration at the University of Virginia, going back now six decades. It was in 1950 that Gregory Swanson, a black attorney from Danville, successfully sued to gain admission to the Law School. For years, African-American scholars had been seeking admission to the graduate program, going all the way back to 1935, when Alice Jackson of Richmond applied to the graduate school in French. She was sent away, as others later would also be, accompanied by a state scholarship to study at a northern university of her choice (in this case, Columbia University). But Gregory Swanson took a different tack, and actually enrolled at the University, if only for a brief period. One of the changes he made occurred to the mind and heart of Sarah Patton Boyle, social activist and author of The Desegregated Heart, published in 1962. Read the rest of this entry »

“Virginia” at Forty

April 6th, 2010

“But if ever a girl looked as if she were cut out for happiness!” exclaimed an old school teacher when she caught sight of Virginia, the heroine of Ellen Glasgow’s novel of the same name, set in a southern town called Dinwiddie. In the story, Virginia wasn’t ready for happiness: the virtues she had been taught—to be self-effacing, to make no demands, to put others before herself, to be bound by duty and honor—would prove a hindrance to the happiness that she had seemed destined for, given her good family and good looks. “Virginia” is a tableau of a “southern lady,” an idée fixe that was already fading when Glasgow’s novel was published in 1913. She called the novel “a history of manners,” one that sought to give meaning to “the South,” as so many writers had done in the decades before.

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E Pluribus Unum: An Address to a Jeffersonian Class

October 16th, 2009

Today, I had the honor of delivering the main address at Fall Convocation, the event that honors the academic achievement of the top 20 percent of the Third Year Class. This post contains the text of my remarks. My remarks also are available on the University’s YouTube channel. Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Edward Kennedy, Virginian

September 2nd, 2009

The University of Virginia witnessed the passing of another great Virginian—a Virginian in the sense of his association with the University—just shy of two centuries, or 183 years to be precise, after the passing of the founder of the University. Ted Kennedy’s ties to Virginia, of course, do not compare to those of Mr. Jefferson. Yet they are, in a sense, two bookends on the long and growing bookshelf that is the University, with the architect at the beginning and a man emblematic of an important moment in the University’s history further down the shelf.

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A Different Kind of Diversity

July 12th, 2009

It was not until the 1950s that the first African-American students graduated from the College; the first class of women graduated in 1974, thirty-five years ago. Diversity seemed a little more elusive for us than for other distinguished universities—until today. When you step into Newcomb Hall, along with the clanking of the utensils, you hear Spanish, Filipino, Korean, and Chinese.

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