Message to the A&S Community

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I write to let you know that I have decided to step down as dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Science in May 2014. It has been a distinct privilege, one of the greatest in my life, to lead the College—and above all, to work with you.

The changes in the College in recent years have been fundamental. The College is well positioned to work with a new dean, with much momentum going forward.

In 2008, we faced two great challenges. The first was to modernize the management structure in the College, especially for finance and administration. The other was to increase fundraising rapidly.  Success in these endeavors provides the critical foundation of teaching and research. Looking back over the last five years, by any measure we have succeeded.

From the start administrative and financial operations in our office were placed on an effective and robust basis, characterized by multi-year, integrated financial planning to support new strategic directions for the College.

We also created one of the finest fundraising operations on Grounds. Annual philanthropic commitments have grown from $24.5 million in 2009-2010 to $62 million in 2012-13.

With these challenges met, the College is now able to hire dozens of new faculty— over 50 new faculty in this academic year alone. At the same time we have directed significant new funding to improve faculty compensation.

We have also restructured the graduate programs, significantly improving fellowship offerings and guaranteeing five years of financial support for all doctoral students.

We have successfully retained our top faculty who received offers from peer institutions—UCLA, Texas, Michigan, Oxford, Cambridge, Duke, and others—with a stellar retention rate of approximately 75% since 2009-2010; last year it was over 80%.

The College established the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, with support of the Mellon Foundation; the Asia Institute, which won a Title VI grant in 2010 to designate the Institute as a National Resource Center in East Asian Studies; and we launched the Quantitative Collaborative to encourage innovative methods to deal with complex social problems. Other initiatives, such as the World Language Institute are also underway.

In the sciences, we have made a focused investment in selected areas identified by the chairs of science departments and distinguished scientists in the College, investing approximately $4.5 million annually in research support. Notable accomplishments include the creation of the Center for Chemistry of the Universe; the Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization with support from the Department of Energy; and the continued success of the Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research.

We have also benefited from the addition of new facilities, including the New South Lawn and New Cabell Hall renovations, the Physical and Life Sciences Building, Ruffin Hall, Hunter Smith Band Building, as well as the Ruth Caplin Theatre.

In the sabbatical that follows my current term, I will look to completing a book titled ‘The Three Worlds of East Asian Capitalism,” before returning to teaching.

It has been an honor to serve as your dean.  I have a fund of wonderful memories, and I look forward to working with you in future endeavors for the College.


72 Responses to “Message to the A&S Community”

  1. Philip Sprinkle (College '78/Law '81) says:

    Dean Woo, Say it ain’t so. You have done a remarkable job for the College. Thank you from all of us CLAS folks out there who would not trade one minute of our history, religion, philosophy, english and the like classes for one minute of what we may pretend to do as adults. Secretly, we’re all writers, philosophers and thinkers. You also given the College the financial push and, as a commentator above put it, the vision that we needed to ensure its long-term success. Thank you, thank you, one thousand times thank you. You will be missed. –Philip

  2. Philip Viles says:

    You will be missed. Best of luck in the future.

  3. Kathleen Flake says:

    Dean Woo, I am sorry to have been within your stewardship such a short time and will look to any future possibility of association.

  4. JM says:

    Dear Meredith,

    You have presided over A&S at the most difficult time so I hope you are deeply gratified, as I am and
    others are, in what you’ve accomplished.

    And at the end you are bringing, as your last gift to us, Alan Taylor. What a way to go!

  5. Lee Caplin says:

    Your departure brings to an end a period of refreshing hope and satisfaction that had not been felt on Grounds for decades. While I envy any institution of higher learning that is fortunate enough to benefit from your presence, I mourn the loss suffered by Mr. Jefferson’s University. Your selfless and tireless pursuit of excellence in both education and educational administration – clearly evidenced by your receipt of the University’s 2013 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award, your tripling annual philanthropic support for the College during your tenure, your wise stewardship of faculty well being, and your undisputed support throughout the University, from the student body to the Board of Visitors – has left the University in tremendous shape as it closes out this year’s capital campaign. You will be missed greatly, with our sincere hopes that your future will include a continued association with us here in Charlottesville.

  6. Dara Folan says:

    Meredith, thank you for a job well done. I’ve appreciated your emails, and I wish you well during your sabbatical. We look forward to having you back in the classroom soon! Best, Dara Folan (Coll ’80)

  7. Donna Hankins says:

    You are the vision of why I became the professional educator I am today.
    I appreciate all that you lead on behalf of connecting global cultures and intelligence, humility and resolve…
    College ’90/M.Ed. ’96

  8. KK Kaios says:

    Not sure why you would think this is noteworthy enough to blast the college email lists with. Dean Woo might have been a good dean, but honestly no one cares whether deans stay or leave. They have contact with a few students and are often leaving and coming. Nothing makes her special or worthy of such ridiculous publicity. With that, good luck with your life Meredith.

  9. Mariano Castañeira says:

    Thank you Deán Woo, for your accomplishments and dedication.
    I visited from Spain after many years of having left the school and found some wonderful changes.
    Enjoy tour sabattical!
    Best regards,
    Mariano Castaneira Ma 1978 – PhD 1984

  10. David Gustafson says:

    Dear Dean Woo,

    I have followed your efforts for A & S since you began your tenure. Best wishes for your book writing and future endeavors.

    Best wishes,

    David Gustafson
    G A & S
    PhD, Physics, 1976.

  11. Teresa Irish says:

    I will miss your updates very much. Reading your writings was like taking a master class in composition and style. All best to you!

  12. Jackie Summers says:

    Heartfelt thanks, Dean Woo. Your words are like no other-like the voice of an angel-threading together our Grounds, the state, this country, and our world. Keep leaning in! With gratitude, respect, & best wishes, Jackie Summers ’86

  13. Myla Spencer says:

    Thank you for your service Ms. Woo

  14. Marilyn Hebenstreit says:

    You have provided UVA’s most insightful, consistent voice articulating both aspirational & practical goals for the University during your years as Dean. I’ve read your updates with pleasure, & felt that your presence as Dean has instilled intelligence, humor & a wonderful humanity to the governance of the University. I am so glad my daughters were here during your tenure. All the best,

  15. Dear Dean Woo,
    I would like to add my thanks for your service to the University and my congratulations for your many accomplishments as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Since your arrival in 2008, the college has expanded, in meaningful and diversified ways. You have set a high mark.
    In developing your book exploring Communism in East Asia, during your sabbatical, you have the opportunity to shed important insights into a most fascinating development in global economics, perhaps the most prospective one in a century. I feel certain many of us are looking forward to its publication.
    I hope that you find your way back to UVA, in the near future.

    Best wishes,

    Howey Bonham
    A&S 1952

  16. Armistead Talman says:

    Dear Dean Woo- as a long-ago history major in the College, I have always enjoyed your thoughtful and well composed insights about a variety of interesting topics since you arrived at The University.
    It sounds as if the College itself has likewise benefited from your presence, and we wish you the very best for the future.
    Sincerely, Armistead Talman Col’54 & Med’58

  17. Rob Austin says:

    Dear Dean Woo;

    You have been a wonderful Dean and I applaud your accomplishments. I understand that you plan on returning to teaching at the University after your sabbatical, and for that I am truly grateful. At a time when our University appears to be having difficulties recruiting and retaining top-notch faculty, your presence will, I hope, send a message.

    Rob Austin
    College ’71 (Yes, I know it’s “CLAS” now, but please allow an old guy some fond memories!)

  18. john burwasser says:

    Gonna miss you, Meredith!

    Thanks for keeping us far-flung alumni informed.

    Best and Wa-hoo,

    Ben Burwasser, ‘72

  19. douglas luke says:

    Dean Woo – Sorry to hear this news…You will be missed…Doug Luke (College ’64…Darden ’66)

  20. Ray York says:

    I certainly hope you return. Your speeches rank as the best I’ve heard from any UVA school
    representative. I will buy your book for sure.

  21. Will Waller says:

    Meredith: I agree with all of the wonderful accolades posted by others before me. Just let me add how much I enjoyed our conversations at the Frisbie home during your visits to Nantucket I hope there will be future opportunities to be with you and your husband on the island. Smooth sailing.
    Will Waller (Coll. ’53–Law ’59)

  22. rabbi avi magid says:

    dear meredith,

    my wife annie and i wish you the very best on your newest life step. we remember fondly an alumni gathering on the west coast, along with the uva-usc football game. we gabbed away on just about everything while the bus took us to the game. it wasn’t that the conversation was on a significant academic level. rather, what we loved was just the everyday yakking about life, the grounds, etc. and the discovery that the u was in really devoted, caring and wonderful hands.

    we may have lost the game (actually the refs were all “homers”), but we found a terrific person. small unexpected events sometimes have the most significant results.

    wishing you the best,

    annie and avi/arnie magid (A&S, 1970)