When comedian Stephen Colbert took the podium today at John Paul Jones Arena to deliver the keynote address at the University of Virginia’s Valedictory Exercises, he picked up the Class of 2013’s large cardboard check for almost $600,000 and said, “Thank you. This is way more than I expected. I would’ve done it for free. This is incredibly generous.”
Part of Finals Weekend festivities, the ceremony allows the graduating class to pay tribute to its time at the University and present the class gift and awards. Usually held on the Lawn, it was moved indoors due to rain; the lure of Colbert – the fourth-year students’ No. 1 choice as the featured speaker, according to Class President Sheridan Fuller – drew a nearly full house.
Colbert did not disappoint. He entertained the graduates and their families with his characteristic quirky humor, largely minus the mock conservative schtick he has made famous on his popular television show, “The Colbert Report.” He even drew the camera to him to show on the giant “Hoovision” screen his trick of folding over his right ear, then popping it back up when he squints.
(Watch all of Colbert’s remarks here.)
In thanking the Class of 2013 for inviting him to speak at the ceremony, he also thanked President Teresa A. Sullivan, saying, “President Teresa Sullivan, you are way better than the last president – Teresa Sullivan,” referring to the events of last June when the Board of Visitors asked Sullivan to resign, and then reinstated her after public protests. “You are clearly the woman for this job.”
Rather than asking people to turn their cell phones off, Colbert said they should turn their phones on to make sure they didn’t miss any texts or tweets – and just in case he himself tweeted anything during his speech, which, in fact, he did later.
He poked fun at some of the unique terms that set U.Va. apart from other universities. “Instead of saying, ‘We are members of a proud educational tradition dating back to our nation’s founders,’ you say ‘Wahoowa,’” he said. “Which begs the eternal question, ‘Wahoo-why?’”
Having toured the Grounds earlier in the morning, he then asked the graduates, “Why are you leaving? This could be the most spectacular place you have ever lived,” pointing out that the University is the only college campus designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Another reason the University is so impressive, Colbert said, was because it rejected him when he applied to transfer from Hampden-Sydney College. He said he failed to submit an essay with his application in 1984, and asked if his speech could now serve that purpose.
“Because this is a smart school, let me just toss in some SAT words: syzygy, heterodox, Benedict Cumberbatch,” he said.
“But perhaps the real reason U.Va. is so great is that it trusts its students. You have the nation’s oldest student-run honor code. Say it with me.” He then recited the Honor Code – “On my honor as a student, I pledge I have neither given nor received help on this assignment” – before appending, “so help me Adderall,” referring to a medicine for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that some college students reportedly take to help them focus.
His favorite thing about U.Va., Colbert said, are the secret societies – “That’s sexy,” he said, proceeding to name a few of them. When he got to the Seven Society, whose members are not revealed until their deaths, he said, “I’m not going to say I am a Seven; I’m not going to say I’m not a Seven. I’m just going to say ...” and then he chanted some gibberish while waggling his fingers like a butterfly. After the laughter died down, he added, “And now I will have to have you all killed.”
He also listed several famous alumni, including Edgar Allan Poe – whose friends, he said, called him “creepy Eddie.”
“But of course the greatest figure associated with U.Va. is your founder, Thomas Jefferson – TJ, Prez Tommy Jeff, the freckly anti-federalist, Louisiana purchee, old Bible slicer, or as most Americans know him, the inventor of the six-inch wooden cypher wheel.”
Colbert said one thing he took issue with was the scope of Jefferson’s beliefs, which were too broad and made him hard to pin down, unlike today’s politicians who have to fit into the box of conservative or liberal.
Jefferson’s relations with his slave, Sally Hemings, proved to be too tempting a target for Colbert. “In public life, we often see Jefferson as the embodiment of white male patriarchy,” he said, “but in his private life, he was known for, shall we say, embracing diversity. Very affirmative in his actions. Am I right? I am right. They did the DNA tests.”
He included an advice section in his talk, mentioning TIME magazine’s cover story on today’s young people, which called them “lazy, entitled narcissists who are part of the me, me, me generation.”
“That’s very upsetting to us Baby Boomers, because self-absorption is kind of our thing. We’re the original ‘me generation,’” Colbert said.
A bit more seriously, he said, “There is no secret society out there that will tap you on the shoulder and show you the way. The true secret is, your life will not be defined by the society we have left you.”
He told students to have the courage Jefferson and his generation did – to create something for themselves.
Quoting Jefferson, he said: “Your generation, no less than his generation, has their own opportunity to recognize and seize that moment ‘when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bands that have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth your separate and equal station and for the support of this, mutually pledge to each other your lives, your fortune and your sacred honor.’
“If anyone can do this, it is the graduates of the university that Jefferson founded. You are his intellectual heirs.
“In fact, some of you may be his actual heirs – we’re still testing the DNA.”
Valediction also included the Class of 2013 awards (see article here) and remarks from several of the class trustees, plus the presentation of the class gift. This year’s class had the highest participation rate of any previous class – 68 percent – and made donations and pledges totaling $595,704, the second-highest amount of any class.
Sullivan said the gift will benefit all seven of U.Va.’s undergraduate schools, hundreds of programs and services and the Rotunda renovation.
It will not go to Stephen Colbert after all. Wahoowa.
An engineering student who helped extend mentoring programs for young girls interested in science and math and who conducted research in Mexico and India, a standout collegiate wrestler who volunteered at the University of Virginia’s Children’s Hospital, and a renowned researcher of tropical and infectious diseases who has mentored medical students for 24 years as an associate dean of the School of Medicine are the recipients of U.Va.’s 2013 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards.
Camrynn Leigh Genda, Matthew Thomas Snyder and Dr. Richard D. Pearson, respectively, were honored during Saturday’s Valedictory Exercises in John Paul Jones Arena, along with several graduating students selected by their 2013 classmates for special recognition.
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation presents annual awards to graduating seniors, faculty, alumni and community members of 61 universities and colleges in the South who are determined to have demonstrated notable character, integrity and service. The awards are presented each year to two distinguished U.Va. fourth-year students and a member of the University community in memory of the awards’ namesake, a New York lawyer, businessman and philanthropist.
The head resident of the Lawn this year, Genda is a Rodman Scholar graduating on Sunday with bachelor’s degrees in systems and information engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and economics from the College of Arts & Sciences, with minors in business and science and technology policy.
Last summer, she carved out six weeks to volunteer as the summer program director at an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico.
In 2012, Genda also studied abroad in Delhi, India. She plans to work after graduation at a church in Mussoorie, India on the “India Impact Initiative,” a program geared toward educating children who are rescued from Delhi brothels and placed in safe homes.
With a partner, she also is launching a start-up business in India developing a cell phone-to-Web communication platform, pursuing clients such as the U.S. Department of State, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
“My mentors have shown me how true fulfillment comes from committing everything we’ve been given – from talents to time – to serve the underserved, alleviate suffering, love those who experience hate, and provide for the impoverished,” said Genda, who also is scheduled in the fall to begin work with the U.S. Department of Defense as a “SMART Scholar” helping to design a new fleet of amphibious tanks for the Marine Corps. “I hope we might all refuse to remain bystanders when those around us are in need and we have tools or abilities at our disposal to help.”
An ACC champion wrestler headed to medical school after a one-year internship with the Athletes in Action sports ministry, Matthew Thomas Snyder volunteered regularly at the University Children’s Hospital. A bone-marrow transplant saved his life as a young child, and the experience has served as motivation to pursue a career in medicine.
He began shadowing a doctor in U.Va’s Department of Family Medicine after his second year and began volunteering at the Children’s Hospital, where he befriended a young cancer patient who later passed away, in 2012.
Snyder, a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestling Scholar-Athlete of the Year, earned an ACC Postgraduate Scholarship to complete a master’s degree in kinesiology, with a concentration in exercise physiology.
“I realized that life is a little short to focus just on my life. Over the last five years I tried to pour more and more into the community around me,” Snyder said. “Whether it’s my teammates on the wrestling team, my peers in Athletes in Action, the people in my Curry School program or my involvement with the Children’s Hospital community.”
Pearson’s scientific research into tropical and infectious diseases has taken him across the world, and he has shared his internationally recognized expertise with thousands of medical students as a well-respected member of the faculty and a beloved dean.
Of his 33 years at the University, he spent 24 as the School of Medicine’s associate dean for student affairs. Pearson has been credited with strong student advocacy, initiating student support programs and promoting diversity in the Medical School. Students praise him as a warm and thoughtful mentor who organizes group dinners at his home to foster a spirit of community within each class.
“After nearly a decade of research, patient care and teaching, I had the unique opportunity to ‘give back’ further as associate dean for student affairs at the best medical school in the country, working with extraordinary mentors,” said Pearson, Harrison Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Pathology. “There is no greater joy or reward than helping students, residents, faculty, patients, family, friends and others in the community.”
Pearson will complete his tenure as associate dean in June. Next academic year, he will continue his current activities in medical education, teaching, patient care and research, assume a new leadership role in clinical skills development and direct the infectious diseases fellowship program.
Clark, Nemitz and Noh Receive Class Awards
The Fourth-Year Class Trustees presented their Cultural Fluency, Community Service and Spirit of Ingenuity awards.
Hallie Clark, who participated in the Workers and Students United for a Living Wage campaign and served as a mentor for African-American students through the Office of African-American Affairs’ Peer Advisor Program, was the recipient of the Cultural Fluency Award recognizing a graduating student who has demonstrated an understanding of and appreciation for cultural and intellectual diversity.
A distinguished major in political and social thought with a second major in African-American and African studies, Clark also chaired Minority Squared, an LGBTQ resource group for people of color who identify themselves as queer or questioning. Clark was credited with working to connect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students to other prominent organizations and resources on Grounds.
The Community Service award, which recognizes a graduating student who enriched the University and Charlottesville community through service, was presented to Amelia K. Nemitz. An Echols Scholar and distinguished history and Spanish double major in the College, Nemitz served as president of Sexual Assault Peer Advocacy, an organization that seeks to create a community of support for survivors of sexual violence and to raise awareness about the issue. She worked with a variety of people to educate the larger community on the sexual misconduct policy and resources available to survivors.
Nemitz, a 2012 recipient of a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award, will attend the U.Va. School of Law this fall, preparing for an intended career specializing in prosecuting gender violence.
Andrew Noh, a systems and information engineering major in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, was the recipient of this year’s Spirit of Ingenuity award, which recognizes a graduating student who pursues an innovative way to contribute to the University community.
As a photographer for The Cavalier Daily student newspaper, and as the Boylan Heights Special Events Promoter, Noh shared his professional photos from a variety of University athletic and social events on his photography website and other online platforms. He also was credited with assembling students and Dean of Students Allen Groves for a popular “UVA Harlem Shake” video recorded on the steps of the Rotunda.
Also honored Saturday:
• The Society of the Purple Shadows presented its Gordon F. Rainey Jr. Award for Vigilance to the Student Experience to Kenneth Elzinga, Robert C. Taylor Professor of Economics. Calling the longtime student favorite “one of the most successful and beloved educators at the University,” the society cited his support for undergraduate research and the honor system and his living out of his Christian values in making the award, which was presented on the society’s behalf by Elzinga’s colleague, economics professor Lee A. Coppock.
• Jarmere Antonio Jenkins was recognized with the Louis A. Onesty Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award from the Seven Society. The third tennis player in U.Va. history to make four NCAA singles championship appearances, Jenkins was recently named the University’s top male athlete for the 2012-13 academic year. An anthropology major in the College, Jenkins is ranked third nationally in singles and was captain of the men’s tennis team for two years while also helping lead other athletes through the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Student Athlete Mentor program.
• The Seven Society also recognized the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers Committee with the James Earle Sargeant Award. Initiated by the Diversity Initiatives Committee of Student Council and launched in the fall of 2009, the committee has developed a close partnership with the University and Community Action for Racial Equity as it raised awareness for the need to establish a more adequate memorial to the University’s enslaved laborers.
It formed an advisory committee consisting of expert faculty, staff and community members and organized an educational forum on the intricacies of race relations in the University’s history, with a special focus on slavery. It then distributed a University-wide survey that received more than 900 responses to gauge community knowledge of the history. The movement has organized focus groups on and off Grounds to get community feedback on the need for a memorial, the form it should take and its effect on the community.
Scheduled to accept the award was Edna Turay, the incoming chair of the Memorial for the Enslaved Laborers Committee.
UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2013 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff members receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Kelvin Tyree, patient care technician in outpatient surgery. To see all of the stories, click here.
Patient care technician Kelvin Tyree is so enthusiastic about his work that taking a sick day raises real concern among his colleagues at the University of Virginia Health System’s Outpatient Surgery Center.
“If he calls in sick, we are all concerned that he is seriously ill because of the dedication that he has for his job,” wrote Dr. David Diduch, a U.Va. orthopedic surgeon, in his nomination letter.
As a patient care technician, Tyree is responsible for setting up and cleaning operating rooms, positioning patients, stocking supplies and “basically keeping the place running,” Diduch wrote, doing his work “with such a personal touch and sense of pride in his job.”
“Kelvin brings such a bounce to his step and his eagerness to do his job that the place absolutely hums with efficiency in a way that helps our facility and providers to take care of an optimal number of patients,” added Diduch, a medical director at the surgery center. “The even greater impact comes from his enthusiasm to serve and to work at such a high level of caring for those around him that everyone is swept up with his dedication.”
Tyree’s dedication was highlighted when some temporary room closures at the Outpatient Surgery Center required the treatment team to relocate to the main operating rooms to perform surgeries.
“Kelvin was the one that really made this process work by making sure that all of the necessary equipment was in place and the staff from both locations could work together in a cooperative way,” Diduch wrote.
Keeping a place like the center running smoothly and providing quality care takes the efforts of many people, and Diduch believes Tyree’s leadership qualities are key to making that possible.
“Kelvin, or ‘KT’ as he is fondly called, goes above and beyond every single day. He is the kind of guy that has never had a bad day in his life and lifts everyone up around him and makes this place shine,” Diduch wrote.
UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2013 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff members receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Pamela Joseph, research administrator in physics. To see all of the stories, click here.
Do you know which department in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences is best grant-funded?
The Department of Physics claims that distinction. And several faculty members there say it’s due to the work of research administrator Pamela Joseph, one of this year’s winners of a Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award.
“She is the lifeline of this place, a constant source of information, and I do not know where we will be without her,” physics professor Despina Louca wrote.
“I can say without a doubt that part of physics’ success in acquiring a steady stream of external funding support is unmistakably due to Pam’s diligence,” said Louca, who has worked with her for 14 years. “I have seen this happen even in unusual circumstances when she was dealing with some very serious familial events” – such as two years ago when her husband and uncle were very ill.
Joseph has served U.Va. for 44 years, 33 of those in the physics department. “She is the one who has trained almost everybody in their current posts,” Louca wrote – and not only in the physics department.
Current physics chair Joe Poon said Joseph “often works on team proposals involving multiple departments and institutions.” She also is called on occasion to the College dean’s office to train others.
No matter the circumstance, she “never complains” and “remains calm and pleasant under pressure,” Poon wrote. She always meets her deadlines and is “one of the nicest and most caring persons I have met in my three decades at the University.”
Poon’s comments were echoed by two-time former chair Michael Fowler, who noted that Joseph “has a quick intelligence” and is “absolutely indispensable.”
“Of all of the staff members I have known at the University over the last 40 years, she is the best of the best,” he wrote.
UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2013 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Jamie DeVore, manager of radiation oncology. To see all of the stories, click here.
“No job is too large, no task is too menial for Jamie,” wrote Melody Lain, medical director for the department of radiation oncology, in her letter of nomination for DeVore.
“From delivering mail and locating physicians to evaluating staff and creating budgets, she covers the gauntlet. Regardless of what the request might be, Jamie is always willing to help.”
When Dr. James Larner became chair of the department in November 2005, he was aware of DeVore’s exceptional administrative skills and her ability to lead. There were actually two positions open at that time – administrative manager and administrative assistant to the chair.
“Jamie quickly assessed the workflow and workload of the department and proposed that we combine the two positions, thus eliminating one position and saving the department almost $50,000 a year,” Larner wrote in his nominating letter.
DeVore consistently strives to find ways to increase revenue, cut costs and improve quality and patient care. In 2012, she streamlined billing processes as one of her primary goals.
DeVore also serves as the human resources manager for the department and coordinates all recruitment and personnel searches. She directly supervises six employees and serves as a role model to her colleagues.
Her staff made the following comments: “Jamie makes me feel appreciated,” “she makes my job enjoyable,” and “Jamie doesn’t ask us to do anything she wouldn’t jump right in and do as well.”
DeVore’s nominators all mentioned how tirelessly she works in helping her community. Her greatest personal passion is volunteering and helping the needy, whether through her church or the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
In 2009, DeVore helped to organize a medical mission trip to Liberia, Africa, raising enough money to buy and send medical supplies with an 18-member team of doctors, nurses and non-medical personnel.
DeVore obtained donated glasses from the Lions Club International, and after training with a local optometrist, she held vision-screening clinics and fitted hundreds of people with glasses in Liberia. The trip was so successful that, upon their return, Jamie’s mission group gave a presentation at the U.Va. Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds.
When her niece, Jennifer Wells, a fourth-year U.Va. student, died in 2006 from B-strain meningitis, DeVore worked with her family to plan an annual event to raise money for meningitis research in her niece’s memory. Devore appeared on television, radio and in the press to educate the public about how the current meningitis vaccination does not cover the B-strain type.
DeVore and her family held the seventh walk/run Wells remembrance event in Charlottesville on May 11 at Monticello High School.
“Jamie approaches her leadership role in the department and in the community with poise, attention to detail and a seriousness of purpose that is apparent to those around her,” wrote Dr. Timothy Showalter, assistant professor of radiation oncology. “She always anticipates issues and follows through, and she is supremely competent, experienced and generous with her time and effort.”
“Because of this, Jamie is often my starting point for advice on how to handle challenging issues.”
Last year Dana Elzey, associate professor of materials science and engineering in the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, received the inaugural Ernest “Boots” Mead Endowment Kinnier Award. The award is named in honor of Henry Lee Kinnier, a professor of civil engineering, who died in 2009 and who is remembered for his deep care for U.Va. students and the creative ways he engaged them outside the classroom.
The award provides funding that allowed an Engineering School faculty member to participate for the first time in the Ernest “Boots” Mead Endowment program. The Mead program which supports U.Va. professors in creating “dream idea” projects with undergraduate students. Elzey chose to use the Kinnier Award to bring together a diverse group of undergraduates who intend to pursue graduate studies in engineering. His goal was to help the students understand how to navigate the often-confusing path through graduate school as they consider careers in teaching engineering.
“I was struck at how little, if any, advising there is for undergraduates on how graduate study actually works,” he said. “Most students learn about these things through their peers and by going to websites. I wanted to deepen that conversation.”
Last fall, Elzey selected eight third-year students who had applied from departments across the Engineering School to attend a series of six dinner seminars. Guest faculty members also attended, contributing their perspectives on graduate study and engineering careers in academe.
“These intimate gatherings provided the opportunity for Jeffersonian-style conversation in some of the most interesting places around Grounds,” including Fayerweather Hall, the Upstairs Library of the Colonnade Club, and the Lower West Oval Room of the Rotunda, Elzey said.
In addition to attending the dinner seminars, the undergraduates were asked to prepare and deliver an outreach activity informing high school students about engineering as a career path.
“I wanted them to design a teaching experience to put into practice some of the things we’ve been talking about at these dinners,” Elzey said. Dividing into small teams, the engineering students worked closely with Elzey to develop their outreach projects.
The experience proved enlightening for third-year chemical engineering major Carolyn Jensen. It “expanded my views on what good teaching requires,” she said.
Her team delivered its outreach activity at Staunton River High School near Roanoke. They asked the students there to think about some of the problems around them that might require a technical solution. “The students learned much more about the engineering thought process by working through a challenge they were invested in than by simply listening to a lecture,” she said.
Adam Campbell, a third-year computer science major who was part of the same outreach team, cited survey results from the conclusion of the exercise. “About half the high school students who participated indicated they were more inclined to pursue engineering” because of the experience, he said.
Classroom exercises like this give engineering students a taste of teaching and course development, as well as a practical window into the life and work of faculty in engineering, Elzey said.
He sees another result of the Kinnier Award program that goes even deeper. “They had a rich cultural experience together,” he said. “And I sense that it deepened their overall experience of being a University of Virginia student.”
— By Cody Hartley
MEDIA ADVISORY: Battelle Executive, Former Ohio University System Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut to Speak at U.Va. Board of Visitors Dinner
Eric D. Fingerhut, vice president for education and STEM learning at the Battelle Memorial Institute, will be the featured speaker at a dinner session of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors on Monday.
Fingerhut previously served as chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, a gubernatorial appointment, from 2007 until 2011, and was the author of a bold, 10-year strategic plan for the state higher education system.
U.Va. Rector Helen E. Dragas extended the invitation to Fingerhut and said he will discuss the evolving landscape of higher education, including the following topics:
- Humanities vs. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), bridging the false divide
- Innovation and technology in higher education
- The coming culture of accountability in higher education
As chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, Fingerhut was responsible for leading the University System of Ohio, which comprises 14 universities, 23 community colleges and more than 120 adult workforce and training centers serving more than 600,000 students. Fingerhut also held elected office in Ohio, including representing Ohio’s 19th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995, and the 25th district of the Ohio Senate from 1999 to 2006.
Battelle Memorial Institute, the largest non-profit research and development organization in the world, is an international science and technology enterprise that explores emerging areas of science, develops and commercializes technology, and manages laboratories for customers. Fingerhut is currently responsible for leading Battelle’s efforts to train future science and technology leaders.
A biography of Fingerhut can be found here.
The event, scheduled at 7 p.m. on Monday, is open to members of the news media. Reporters intending to cover the event are asked to notify the U.Va. Office of University Communications at 434-924-1400 or by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2013 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff members receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Bill Graves, surgical supply specialist. To see all of the stories, click here.
At first glance, the personnel file for William “Bill” Graves sounds too good to be true.
“I inherited his file when I became supervisor in Surgical Supply, and as I first looked through his phonebook-sized employee record for the last 36 years, I thought to myself, ‘No one is THAT good,’” Tim Jones wrote about Graves, a surgical supply specialist at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Every day, Graves is that good. Jones described Graves as the most industrious and dedicated employee he has ever managed, bringing together an upbeat attitude with honesty, fairness and reliability.
“He consistently runs toward the heaviest and most difficult tasks that others shy from,” Jones wrote. “His accuracy and efficiency is almost legendary and the benchmarks by which each member of my team are measured.”
Graves arrives early for every shift and will always stay late if needed to help. Even though his seniority gives Graves his choice of holidays, he works every holiday to give his co-workers the opportunity to take time off. Even when he takes a vacation day, he’s still committed to his work.
“He calls me on his time off to insure we are adequately staffed and even if told ‘all is well,’ he will drive across Afton Mountain and stick his head in the door to insure we have the resources to get the job done,” Jones wrote.
Even as his co-workers marvel at his stamina, speed, accuracy and dedication in stocking the operating rooms, Graves remains humble, telling Jones: “I was raised to give a good day’s work for a good day’s pay and that’s what I do."
Graves’ work has impacted thousands of people over the years. “Every patient, every doctor, every surgeon who has performed an operation in some small way owes his or her success to Bill’s efforts,” Jones wrote. “Bill is truly a one-of-a-kind employee and has been for over 3½ decades.”
UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2013 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff members receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Stephanie Reed, physical therapist. To see all of the stories, click here.
As a University of Virginia Medical Center physical therapist tasked with helping patients recover from serious illnesses and injuries, Stephanie R. Reed excels.
“She has the ability to get everyone (patients, families, staff) excited about the possibilities for recovery and meaningful life beyond the hospital,” a nominator wrote. “Patients know that she will be with them throughout their difficult journey, every step of the way.”
Reed demonstrated those skills with a patient who had been badly injured in a motorcycle crash – just one example of how she doesn’t give up on patients.
“Stephanie worked hard each day to encourage him, tell him that ‘can’t’ was not in his vocabulary, and to motivate him to work with therapies,” a nominator wrote.
As she worked with the patient on his rehabilitation, she also researched the prices of wheelchairs and equipment he would need, and pulled the patient’s entire care team together in his room to discuss plans and strategies. She even took him out to the parking garage to practice transferring from his wheelchair to a car, so that his mother would be able to get him out of the car and into his house.
“I have never seen such a turnaround as the day [the patient] stood up and walked a few steps with his walker; he was grinning from ear to ear and knew he could finally get home and back to his life,” a nominator wrote. “The patient and his mother completely credited Stephanie for this turnaround in his care and in his disposition. She got the rest of the team excited to see if we could pull off this miracle and we did it earlier than anticipated!”
That type of effort to serve patients is typical for Reed. “She goes way above and beyond on a daily basis to provide extraordinary care for each and every one of her patients,” a nominator wrote. “She does whatever it takes to ‘get the job done’ with the best outcome possible for her patients.”
2013 Outstanding Employee: Virginia ‘Jenny’ Friend Provides Tireless Support for Patients and Colleagues
UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2013 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff members receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Jenny Friend of the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center. To see all of the stories, click here.
Dealing with a diagnosis of cancer can be emotional and stressful – not only for patients and their families, but for the team of clinicians caring for those patients. Virginia “Jenny” Friend, an registered nurse care coordinator at the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, is always willing to make an extra effort to ease the concerns of patients with brain tumors and of her colleagues at the cancer center.
Many of the patients Friend cares for as part of an interdisciplinary team come to Charlottesville from long distances, wrote nominator Lorna Facteau, and many of those patients have limited resources for support.
“Jenny works tirelessly – many days [for] 10 to 12 hours – to ensure the patients she serves have the highest standard of care and any available resources are obtained for these individuals,” wrote Facteau, chief nursing officer for U.Va. Medical Center.
Any spare moments Friend has when not attending to her patients’ needs are spent seeing how she can help her co-workers with their patients, ranging from filling out medical leave forms to following up on previously scheduled tests and procedures. “Jenny will take any time, whether it’s a few minutes or a couple of hours, to contact her nurse colleagues by pager, phone or just walk to their clinic and ask what she can do to help,” Facteau wrote.
“The compassion, the caring, the giving and the willingness to support her patients, her team and her co-workers are all qualities that make our nurse Jenny one of our favorite people.”
Friend can always be counted on for her professionalism and acts of kindness, according to Facteau, and she serves as the epitome of what makes a team work well together.
“We love to see Jenny at any point, as she makes the day so much better for so many,” Facteau wrote. “If we could clone her, we could solve the world’s problems.”
UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2013 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff members receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today Linda Shifflett, patient care assistant. To see all of the stories, click here.
During her shifts as a patient care assistant in the University of Virginia Medical Center’s 5 East inpatient unit, Linda Shifflett has a knack for putting all of the people she sees – whether she is working with them or caring for them – at ease.
“When Linda Shifflett is on her unit, everyone – staff, patients and families – feels better, because of the compassionate and attentive way Linda cares for her patients and co-workers,” wrote nominator Lorna Facteau, chief nursing officer at the Medical Center. “Creating a safe and [caring] environment is at the cornerstone of what Linda stands for.”
In her daily work, she excels in communicating with patients suffering from severe mental illnesses, including dementia. She combines her sense of caring with her organizational skills, strong work ethic and respect for patients and their families to help provide high-quality patient care.
Her colleagues recognize the important role Shifflett plays in serving patients.
“When patients needs a helping hand or are [suffering] from fear and anxiety, Linda knows what to do and never gives up,” Facteau wrote. “Her gentle and persistent nature ensures the U.Va. patient is always cared for, as if it was her own family member.”
Her caring nature is supported by a strong attention to detail and a willingness to take on projects to improve her unit for the benefit of the patients she and her colleagues care for.
In fact, her co-workers hope she will be there for them if they ever need medical care.
Facteau’s nomination of Shifflett closes this way: “She teaches all of us, every day, and we pray that in our time of need we will have a caregiver like her.”
UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2013 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff members receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Warren “Hubba” Wood of Facilities Management. To see all of the stories, click here.
So you say you need to replace dozens of signs in your huge parking garage – quite literally overnight?
Warren “Hubba” Wood Jr. is your guy.
You say the U.S. Secretary of State is coming to Grounds to speak, and you need to locate a suitably tall podium, refurbish it and build a step for shorter speakers to use while standing behind it? And do it all in two days?
Even cancer hasn’t much slowed the ever-positive Wood, who supervises the sign shop for U.Va.’s Facilities Management division. In their letter supporting his nomination, Marc Powell, senior manager of project services, and Mark Stanis, associate director for project services, recounted that after missing five weeks for surgery to treat a recurrence of cancer, Wood “returned to work and the next day was out working to install fencing, coordinate signage installation, and was the onsite coordinator for events” for Reunions Weekend 2012.
(Later in the summer, he dyed his hair pink to fulfill a promise he made to those who helped him raise $6,000 for the Women’s 4-Miler, which benefits breast cancer research.)
It’s all part of the job for Wood, who seems to take last-minute and unusual requests in stride.
“When new buildings or major renovations are completed, it’s often Warren’s group in at the last hour installing directories and room signage,” wrote Jay Klingel, director of operations and maintenance, in his nomination letter. “When that special engraved plaque needs to be provided in a minute’s notice, Warren is the go-to guy.”
Klingel noted that one such plaque even made its way into space. At the request of U.Va. alumnus and NASA astronaut Patrick Forrester, Wood crafted a four-ounce honor code plaque that Forrester carried on a 2009 space shuttle mission to the International Space Station.
Despite his accommodating nature – and yes, he and his crew did stay up all night redoing the signage in the Health System’s parking garage, in order to minimize inconveniences to patients, visitors and staff – Wood does have a life outside the sign shop.
For 30 years, he has served with the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department, answering emergency calls at all hours of the night. In November 2011, he and his son Robert responded to a vehicle fire and pulled three passengers from a car moments before flames engulfed the vehicle.
Need a hero? Call Hubba.
Not many students start their thesis with a quote from a face-to-face conversation with President Barack Obama, accompanied by a photo of the student shaking hands with him. But for Edward Smith, an Echols Scholar and politics honors major at the University of Virginia, it seems like a fitting culmination of a passion for politics kindled as a high school student volunteer for Obama’s 2008 campaign near his hometown of Hampton.
Smith’s interest in politics was also sparked by a far more somber event: the 2006 death of his mother, Juwanna, from a rare liver disease known as amyloidosis.
“Through her career as a registered nurse, I came into contact with patients who were unable to obtain adequate health care due to circumstances beyond their control,” he said. Her death “motivated me to find a career path where I could combine my interest in politics to promote extended health coverage.”
Smith has immersed himself in politics and political science since he arrived on Grounds as a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences, when he took politics professor Larry Sabato’s legendary “Introduction to American Politics” course, and then interned with Sabato’s Center for Politics.
He joined student groups focused on improving civic engagement and voter turnout and did a summer internship for local Congressman Tom Perriello’s unsuccessful 2010 re-election campaign.
In his second year, he was one of six students in the Class of 2013 admitted to the Politics Honors Program, which requires a fourth-year thesis.
A Raven Society member, Smith went on to complete three independent research projects on politics, two of them funded by competitive grant awards. As a second-year, for an independent study with Karlin Luedtke, assistant professor in the Women, Gender & Sexuality interdisciplinary program, he examined how the Great Recession impacted women and minorities differently than other groups.
With a Double ’Hoo Research Grant from U.Va.’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence, Smith analyzed political discourse on major cable news outlets, working with politics doctoral student Emily Sydnor.
Then Smith won a Sen. John W. Warner Public Leadership Undergraduate Research Award, given annually to a third-year undergraduate who exhibits a serious ambition to seek public office in the future, to fund a major research project. Smith used the award for his thesis research on voter ID laws.
Following up on his interest in health care policy, last summer Smith was a Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar for his home district congressman, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., fulfilling an earlier goal, he said, of “working on Capitol Hill to help lawmakers create policies that reduce health disparities among underserved populations.”
Unsure whether he will pursue graduate education in law school or public policy school, after graduation Smith will work as a paralegal in a Washington law firm to “give me both law and policy experience, while also giving me time to figure out the best path for grad school,” he said.
Smith was able to spend a minute with Obama last summer when Obama visited Charlottesville for a campaign rally. “He asked me my name and what I was studying,” Smith said. “I answered political science with a focus on political equality. He responded, ‘That’s wonderful. ... We need to make sure everyone gets a fair shot, Edward. That’s what this campaign is all about.’ I used this quote to begin my thesis.”
Smith’s thesis examined the effects of Republican-led pushes in many states to enact stricter voter ID regulations ahead of the 2012 election, criticized as efforts to reduce turnout among low-income and minority voters who tend to vote predominantly Democratic. In the 2012 election blacks actually voted at a higher rate than whites, Hispanics or Asians, and were the only group with increased voting participation compared to the 2008 election, according to a new U.S. Census report released last week, which was not available to Smith while writing his thesis. Even without the Census report, Smith had made a similar conclusion about turnout rates, which he hypothesized were spurred by indignation and anger among African-Americans at the efforts to make voting more difficult.
“Edward’s thesis would have been much easier to write if he had been able to wait until after the Census report was released,” explained his thesis adviser, politics professor Paul Freedman. “Instead, he had to be a detective, piecing together the story of turnout in the 2012 election through careful analysis of exit polls and other available data. But Edward is a keen observer of politics and did a first-rate job.”
Along with Smith’s vindication by the new Census report, about 10 days ago, Vice President Joe Biden was quoted explaining how both he and Obama have reached conclusions similar to Smith’s.
“It’s as if Obama and Biden read Edward’s thesis,” joked Freedman.
With Smith’s passion for politics, one day his opinions may well reach the desk of a sitting president.
The University of Virginia Board of Visitors meeting on Monday and Tuesday will be webcast live.
The sessions can be viewed here. Sessions are scheduled from noon to approximately 6 p.m. on Monday, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The schedule may vary.
Procedures for media and the public who are planning to attend open sessions of the board, instituted in February, are being followed.
Media are asked to RSVP to the Office of University Communications in advance of the meeting and to bring a valid media credential to enter the session. Send RSVP to email@example.com. Seating for media is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
A ticketed seating plan for the public will be employed due to the limited nature of seating in the Rotunda, where most Board sessions will be held.
Tickets will be provided at the site of the sessions on a first-come, first-served basis. A ticket is required to attend the open sessions of the meetings. When leaving the room, tickets must be surrendered to University officials at the entrance of the room.
There will also be an overflow viewing site in the South Meeting Room of Newcomb Hall for both days.
The complete schedule of the board's meeting is here.
Teresa A. Sullivan will preside over her third Final Exercises as president of the University of Virginia this weekend, welcoming between 30,000 and 35,000 people to Grounds. Sunday is the 184th edition of the University’s ceremony honoring graduating students.
For the graduates, their families and friends, the weekend promises the usual visual and emotional appeals – the lush and inviting Lawn, the procession of faculty, the iconic Academical Village backdrop for photos and videos.
This year also promises new twists and features: Students who have earned undergraduate degrees in fewer than four years will wear special, orange academic stoles, a gift from the Office of the President. And many of those weekend photos destined for Facebook and scrapbooks will feature a copper-colored Rotunda dome instead of a white one – the first time this has been the case since before the last round of major Rotunda renovations, completed in 1976. Unpredictable weather delayed plans to paint the new roof.
The University’s 11 schools will award 6,363 degrees. That total includes 3,761 bachelor’s degrees, 1,634 master’s degrees and 509 first professional degrees. Some 896 graduates are international students. Eighty students earned their degree in three years; two in just two years.
For students and guests, a compelling set of speakers awaits. Stephen Colbert will deliver remarks at Saturday’s Valediction, and James Henry “Jim” Webb is the keynote speaker for Final Exercises on Sunday.
Webb is a former U.S. senator and Secretary of the Navy, decorated Vietnam War veteran and successful journalist, filmmaker and author. Born in Missouri in 1946, Webb graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in l968. He served with the Fifth Marine Regiment in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts during his active-duty service.
Webb received his J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center in 1975. He served the U.S. Congress as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs from 1977 to 1981. In 1982, he led the fight for including an African-American soldier in the memorial statue that now graces the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, and wrote the inscription at the base of the flagpole. In 1984, he was appointed the inaugural assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. In 1987, he became the first Naval Academy graduate in history to serve in the military and then become Secretary of the Navy.
Colbert is the host, co-writer and executive producer of Comedy Central’s Emmy and Peabody award-winning series “The Colbert Report.” He is a best-selling author, political satirist, writer, comedian and former presidential candidate. Colbert is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he majored in theater.
Colbert’s wife, Evelyn McGee Colbert, is a 1985 alumna of U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences. She majored in drama and English and participated in several summer productions of the Heritage Repertory Theatre, now the Heritage Theatre Festival.
In 2011, the Colberts made a generous gift to create a new Arts Scholars program in the College. Arts Scholars have direct access to the best resources in the arts at the University, a senior faculty member as their adviser-mentor, and funding for arts-intensive summer work. Sixteen students benefited from the program in its inaugural year in 2011, and 13 students who entered this fall were selected to be Arts Scholars in studio art, music, drama and dance.
Live Web Stream and Remote Viewing
Guests also can watch a live broadcast of Sunday’s Lawn Ceremony at these remote viewing locations: Alumni Hall Ballroom, Chemistry Building Auditorium, Gilmer Hall auditoriums (rooms 130 and 190), Harrison Institute Auditorium, Newcomb Hall Ballroom and Theater, Student Activities Building and Zehmer Hall Auditorium.
If the inclement- or severe-weather plan is followed for Valedictory or Final Exercises, announcements will be made no later than 8 a.m. on local radio stations and the University’s home page, www.virginia.edu. If in doubt, call the University’s weather hotline, 434-924-7669 or 434-243-7669, or the graduation information line, 434-982-2908.
In the case of inclement or severe weather on Saturday, Valedictory Exercises will be moved from the Lawn to John Paul Jones Arena. Tickets – three per graduate, available starting today at the University Bookstore – will be required for entry into the arena.
If the weather is inclement, the University may decide to hold Sunday’s Final Exercises on the Lawn, but implement the inclement-weather plan for diploma ceremonies. Under this plan, faculty and students and their guests will go to the inclement-weather sites designated on the Diploma Ceremony Locations chart for diploma distribution.
If weather is severe Sunday, there will be a central convocation in the John Paul Jones Arena for undergraduate and Master of Teaching degree candidates only. Faculty and students should arrive at the arena by 9:30 a.m. Only guests with tickets will be allowed entry. Graduate and professional students will go to the designated severe-weather sites for both degree conferral and diploma distribution. Faculty and students should arrive 30 minutes before their respective ceremony.
Parking and Transportation
Free parking will be available at the Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage, Scott Stadium, John Paul Jones Arena and University Hall. Shuttle buses will be available at all sites, except the Emmet/Ivy Garage. Limited paid parking will be available in the Central Grounds Garage; no shuttle service will be provided.
Public parking will not be available on Central Grounds. McCormick Road will be closed from University Avenue to the McCormick Road Bridge from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
In broad terms, the undergraduate class that will enter the University of Virginia in August strongly resembles those of other recent years.
Completed applications for the Class of 2017 increased compared with the previous year, a pattern in place for a decade. Test scores and high school ranks for those offered admission occupy the highest percentiles among their classmates – also a common characteristic for incoming classes.
Indeed, the fabric of a U.Va. class features a consistent texture.
“Across all the schools, from the College to Nursing to Engineering, we’ve admitted poets and performers, scientific researchers and military veterans, social activists and technological innovators,” Dean of Admission Greg W. Roberts said. “These bright, promising scholars, from a broad range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, are eager not only to contribute to the U.Va. community, but also to change the world.”
A closer look, however, at the class composition as it stands today – accepted offers of admission will shift a time or two before the new semester begins – shows that U.Va.’s incoming class is anything but stale or predictable.
The Office of Undergraduate Admission continues to see a return on targeted and sustained efforts to build diverse incoming classes to complement an already-diverse student body.
Overall minority student enrollment among the first-year entering class is projected to increase from 26.5 percent in the just-ended academic year to 27.5 percent in 2013-14. Hispanic enrollment is on track to increase by 20 percent compared with this year. African-American enrollment is projected to increase by 8 percent. And enrollment of Asian students is expected to increase from 11.3 percent to 11.7 percent of the total first-year class.
Today’s snapshot of the incoming class also shows that 9.7 percent of first-years in 2013-14 will represent first-generation college students, an increase from 9.4 percent a year ago. Students from low-income families are projected to make up 6.9 percent of the class, unchanged from the current year.
“The University promotes an inclusive, welcoming environment that embraces the full spectrum of human attributes and perspectives,” said Dr. Marcus L. Martin, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity. “I applaud the outreach efforts of our Office of Undergraduate Admission, Student Affairs, Dean of Students and the Office of African-American Affairs to enhance the success of minority students.”
Assigning accurate numbers to categories of race and ethnicity has grown more complex since new federal reporting standards for students began in 2009. Prior to that year, incoming students could select only a single race when reporting ethnicity for University records.
Starting in ’09, students were able to report more than one ethnicity. A student who selects more than one race is not included in the tally for any individual race, but instead is counted in a category called “multi-race.” (The sole exception is the Hispanic ethnicity category. Those who select Hispanic and another race are counted in the Hispanic column.) Students may also opt not to specify a race. The new process provides more flexibility for the growing number of students reflecting more than one ethnicity, but also makes record-keeping more complicated and the results more difficult to interpret.
The new approach has created some confusion regarding enrollment of African-American students, for example. Comparing African-American enrollment before 2009 with years thereafter shows what appears to be a dramatic decline in numbers. U.Va. enrolled 1,199 African-Americans in 2008 and 946 in 2012, according to records. However, that comparison does not account for the effect of the multi-race category.
The number of students in 2012 who identified themselves only as African-American (946) combined with those who identified themselves as African-American and some other ethnicity (206) totals 1,152.
Other trends have also developed that provide good news about African-American enrollment at U.Va.: The number of African-Americans completing applications for U.Va. admission has increased dramatically over the past few years. The number of applicants who selected African-American as at least one of their racial categories increased from 1,021 in 2004 to 2,180 in 2013 – outpacing the growth of the overall application pool.
In addition, the number of African-American students offered admission to U.Va. represented a larger percentage of offers than their share of the applicant pool. This spring, 8.8 percent of offers of admission were extended to African-Americans, who constituted 7.5 percent of the applicant pool.
“Misunderstanding about how race and ethnicities are reported has led to some conclusions that don’t compare apples to apples,” Martin said. “At the same time, it’s reassuring to know that so many are committed to growing minority enrollment and that any level of decline in African-American enrollment is an opportunity for improvement.”
“We welcome and encourage this dialogue, and I feel strongly that U.Va. is committed to diversity and supportive measures to enhance student success and the numbers of African-American and other minority students will continue to rise here along with the changing demographics of our society,” Martin said.
Not every University of Virginia graduating class can boast a Rhodes Scholar among its ranks.
Joseph Riley, however, is just the tip of a very large iceberg. His fellow members of the Class of 2013 have earned numerous research awards, scholarships and other academic distinctions.
Collectively, the class has earned 39 Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards; eight Undergraduate Awards for Arts Projects, nine Double ’Hoo Research Awards, four critical language scholarships, two Beckman Scholarships; at least six Fulbright Scholarships; Rhodes, Truman, Goldwater, Udall and Marshall scholarships; a Stull Research Award; a Finger Family research Award; and a Boren Scholarship.
Approximately 60 percent of undergraduates engage in some form of research, encouraged by the student-run Undergraduate Research Network, the College Science Scholars Program in the College of Arts & Sciences and a wide variety of assistance and funding sources in the different schools and departments.
Here’s the rundown.
• Joseph Riley Receives Rhodes, Truman Scholarships
The Rhodes Scholarship, valued at between $50,000 to $175,000, will fully fund two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Riley is the University’s 48th Rhodes winner.
The Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 per year for graduate study.
Riley, 22, plans to complete a master’s degree and a doctorate in international relations at Oxford and pursue a career as an infantry officer.
“It has honestly been one of the most exciting, yet humbling, experiences of my life,” Riley said. “I realize I have been given a great opportunity, and I am resolved to make the most of it. I remind myself of Luke 12:48: ‘To him whom much is given, much is required.’ I have been tremendously blessed.”
Riley’s research focuses on U.S.-China relations. He received top-secret clearance at the National Ground Intelligence Center to analyze the Chinese army’s capabilities and ambitions, and is co-writing a book with Dale Copeland, an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in U.Va.’s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics.
The Etowah, Tenn., native was a Lawn resident, a Jefferson Scholar, an Echols Scholar and Coca-Cola National Scholar. He received the Vanderesee Award, given to the student who “best represents the scholarly spirit of the Echols Scholars”; two National Security Education Program’s Global Officer Critical Language Grants; and a U.S. Senate Youth Program Scholarship.
Riley is a graduate research team leader for Gerard Alexander, an associate professor of politics, and led a 10-member team analyzing insurgent behaviors. He has done field research in China and was a panelist at an international conference, “The Eagle and the Dragon in Africa,” hosted by Virginia Military Institute’s Marshall Institute for Leadership and Ethics. He was also a presenter at the Global Initiatives Symposium in Taipei, Taiwan, addressing implications for developing nations of China’s growing dependency on foreign oil.
Riley, a battalion commander in Army ROTC, is ranked as one of the top 10 cadets in the nation. He was ranked No. 1 in his class for the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault School, is a member of the Ranger Challenge Team, and recipient of the Gold and Medallion Physical Fitness Awards and the Distinguished Military Graduate award given to highest-ranking cadets.
He also received the Scholar-Soldier-Statesman Award given in memory of Capt. Humayun Khan, a U.Va. Army ROTC graduate who was killed in Iraq. He was a seminar coordinator for Integrating Minorities into the Military.
Riley is the founder of Operation Flag the Lawn, which raised money for Wounded Warrior Fund, and a founding member and president of the U.Va. Chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, a national organization dedicated to fostering foreign policy debates on college campuses; he represented U.Va. in the society’s first national meeting at Princeton. He represented the College on the Student Council and was a support officer for the Honor Committee. He was also a site leader for Alternative Spring Break.
He is a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, trained horses for the National Racking Horse Association Juvenile World Championship and has worked as a motivational speaker.
He also is credited with having helped save two lives in his first year at U.Va. – a woman who was choking in a restaurant where he happened to be dining, and a teaching assistant who collapsed in class. Riley performed the Heimlich maneuver on the woman and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the TA until EMTs arrived.
• Hillary Hurd Named Marshall Scholar
Hillary Hurd, a Russian and East European studies and politics honors double major in the College, was named a 2013 Marshall Scholar by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission.
Hurd, 22, will pursue a master’s degree in international relations at Cambridge University and peace and conflict studies at the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland.
The scholarship funds two years of study at any university in the United Kingdom, and is valued at $35,000 a year.
“To live and breathe in one of the world’s oldest, most revered universities is such a dream,” Hurd said. “I cherish being a student, and I’m relieved to know that I’ll have at least two, and possibly more, years to refine my understanding of international law and politics and to learn from a new family of Marshall Scholars.”
The Richmond resident was a nonvoting student representative to the U.Va. Board of Visitors and editor-in-chief of the Wilson Journal of International Affairs. A Jefferson Scholar and an Echols Scholar, she was also lead fellow of the Public Service Fellows, a group of Jefferson Scholars responsible for fostering civic engagement around Grounds through seminars, lectures and initiatives.
She was a member of the University Judiciary Committee; founder of the “Breakfast Club,” a twice-monthly roundtable discussion of short fiction with professors and students at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia; and an organizer of the Charlottesville Refugee Dinner, a fundraiser to raise awareness of refugees at the University and in the surrounding community.
A Lawn resident, Hurd is also a member of the Raven Society and was an Alternative Spring Break site leader.
• Cadet Aimee Moores Receives Marshall, Pallas Athene Awards
U.S. Army Cadet Maj. Aimee Moores, 22, of the Army ROTC Program, received the 2013 Gen. George C. Marshall Award for the Cavalier Battalion and one of this year’s two Pallas Athene Awards from the Women’s Army Corps Veterans’ Association, given annually to the nation’s top female Army ROTC cadets.
Moores, of Gaithersburg, Md., is a pre-med mathematics major in the College, as well as the battalion executive officer in her ROTC program.
She plans to be a doctor, following in the steps of her parents, who are both physicians and U.S. Army colonels. She has been accepted to the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
“It boils down the love of working with people, the fascination with the subject material, most importantly, the fact that I’ve seen the ins and outs of the medical world through watching my parents and understand just how rewarding the profession can be,” she said.
Moores has been highly successful as a cadet, having ranked fourth in the Order of Merit List, which ranks all 5,579 Army cadets in ROTC program across the country.
She participated in the Ranger Challenge during her first two years of ROTC, which entailed being a part of a nine-member team that competed in various military skills against about 40 other schools on the East Coast.
“Outside of ROTC, my main commitment is with U.Va.’s Triathlon team, which I joined during my second year,” she said. “I also play violin and viola and I have participated in several of the chamber groups here and in a couple quartet gigs on Grounds and in the Charlottesville area.”
• David Wu Receives Goldwater Scholarship
David Wu, a double major in biology and cognitive science, with a concentration in philosophy, in the College, received a $7,500 research scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation for 2012 for his work researching Cdt2, a protein that degrades other proteins involved in cell cycle regulation and genetic stability.
Wu is an Echols Scholar, a College Science Scholar and a member of the Raven Society. He received a College Science Scholar Summer Research Award, an InGrassia Echols Scholar Research Grant, a College Council Research Grant, Intermediate Honors, a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award and a Small College Research Grant.
He is senior editor of The Oculus: The Virginia Journal of Undergraduate Research, workshops committee chair and a member of the research advising program for the Undergraduate Research Network, a Madison House student volunteer, a member of the Chinese Student Association and served as a “peer teacher” for an introductory biology course. He is a graduate of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology In Fairfax County.
Wu plans to pursue a Ph.D. and a medical degree, blending medical training with science research.
• Rowan Sprague Receives Fulbright, Udall Scholarships
Sprague, 22, of Richmond, also received a 2012 Harrison Undergraduate Research Award to explore ways of trapping small hive beetles, which have been destroying beehives. She plans to use her Fulbright Research Grant to study ecological engineering with a professor in New Zealand to research ways to manipulate agricultural systems to benefit honeybee populations.
Sprague was an intern and leader with the Morven Kitchen Garden Project, a one-acre educational plot for studying sustainable agriculture techniques and food systems. She established a community-supported agriculture program for students and faculty members. She is a sustainable food intern at the International Residence College, responsible for organizing, advertising and running community-building events aimed at raising awareness for local food and supporting local food systems.
She is the academic achievement chair of the U.Va. Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a steering committee member of the U.Va. Food Collaborative and a volunteer English-language tutor.
• Five Other Grads in Fulbright Scholarships
At least five other graduates have received Fulbright scholarships.
An Echols Scholar, she has received the Duncan Clark Hyde Award for Academic Achievement in Economics, and the T. Braxton Woody Award for distinguished scholarship in Spanish language and culture. She has been on the Dean’s list, and received Intermediate Honors. She a co-founded the Portuguese Club and was president of U.Va. Kiva Microfinance and a volunteer teaching assistant for the Madison House English as a Second Language Program. She is a graduate of Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
Kelvin Chan, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a double major in chemistry, with specialization in biochemistry in the distinguished majors program with highest distinction and American Chemical Society certification; and economics, with concentration in public policy, will use his Fulbright fellowship to study neuronal migration disorders at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria.
He is an Echols Scholar and has received Intermediate Honors, a David A. Harrison III Undergraduate Research Award, the Robert G. Bryant Award for Excellence in Chemistry, a DuPont Scholarship, Alanen-Tyska Scholarship, Ingrasia Family Research Grant and the Kenneth C. Bass Research Scholarship. He was on the dean’s list, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, chair of the Undergraduate Research Network and a member of the American Chemical Society and the Society for Neuroscience. He will pursue a medical scientist training program when he returns from Vienna.
Hans Verkerke, 23, of Charlottesville, a biology major in the College, will use his Fulbright to travel to Bangladesh to study host factors in a disease called amebiasis.
Verkerke was a finalist in the 2012 Presidential Poster Competition and he co-wrote three primary journal articles, and was first author on a review article. A graduate of Western Albemarle High School in Crozet, he plans to attend medical school.
Emily Rebecca Morrison, 22, of Austin, Texas, a Middle Eastern languages and literatures major, with a concentration in Persian, in the College, will use her Fulbright to study efforts to create a national identity in post-Soviet Union Tajikistan. She said her Fulbright experience will deepen her knowledge of the history and culture of Central Asia, as well as increase her language skills in both Tajik and Farsi.
Morrisson has been a resident adviser in Brown Residential College, faculty liaison in Brown Residential College and received a U.S. Army ROTC scholarship. She has already studied in Tajikistan for a term through the Eurasian Regional Languages Program. A graduate of the Regents School of Austin, she will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and begin her service in military intelligence following her Fulbright year.
He is a recipient of Intermediate Honors, the Critical Language Scholarship for 2012 Advanced Urdu Summer Language Study and a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award. He is a member of the Write Club and the European Society, and was editor-in-chief of 3.7 Magazine. He lived at the Shea House on the Hindi/Urdu floor.
• Thomas Howard, Owen Gallogly Claim Kenan Award
Richmond residents Thomas Howard, 22, a history major in the College, and Owen Gallogly, 21, a government and history double major in the College, shared a Kenan research award to write a history of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, the oldest student organization the University and the second-oldest Greek letter organization in North America.
Their research was funded by the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund of the Academical Village, which awards summer grants supporting students who conduct research projects that increase public understanding of the original precinct of the University designed by Thomas Jefferson.
“The Jefferson Society has produced many notable alumni such as President Woodrow Wilson and author Edgar Allan Poe, but it has never had a comprehensive history written about it,” Gallogly said. “Such organizations are increasingly rare on college campuses and we feel they play a critical role in the development of new student leaders. We want to preserve the history of the oldest of these organizations for future generations to both enjoy and learn from.”
Howard is a founding member of the University Historical Society and a member of Jefferson Society. He is editor-in-chief of the Academical Heritage Review, U.Va.’s undergraduate history research journal; secretary of the College of Arts & Sciences Council; and a history distinguished major. He is also a member of the Organization of American Historians, Virginia Historical Society and Preservation Virginia. Howard also received a Finger Family Research Award to research North Carolina’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
Gallogly is an Echols Scholar, senior counsel for the University Honor Committee and a member of the Jefferson Society, the University Historical Society, the Academical Heritage Review and second- and third-year class councils. His long-range plans include law school.
• Nine Graduates Earn ‘Double ’Hoo’ Research Grants –
Nine graduates received “Double ’Hoo” research awards, which fund pairings of undergraduate and graduate students who collaborate on research projects. Each project is awarded up to $5,000 toward research expenses.
- Stewart Moxley Walker, 22, of Richmond, a double major in civil and environmental engineering in the Engineering School and psychology in the College, researched carbon dioxide capture and sequestration, a promising technology to mitigate climate change.
- Jennifer Tomlinson, 22, of Gainesville, Fla., a chemistry major specializing in biochemistry in the College, researched medicinal chemistry to developing antibiotics for combating infectious diseases.
- Colette Gnade, 22, of Waukee, Iowa, a chemistry major specializing in biochemistry in the College, researched the structural and functional properties of proteins driving the dysregulating of cells that lead to cancer, specifically leukemogenesis.
- Alexandra Fletcher-Jones, 22, of Lexington, Mass., a neuroscience major in the College, researched the effect of exercise on the hypothalamus, the central regulator of energy balance in the brain, specifically with respect to Urocortin 3, a peptide found in the hypothalamus.
- Taylor Murtishaw, 22, of Westfield, N.J., an art history and anthropology major, researched terra cotta figurines, pottery and funerary practices in ancient Thebes in present-day Greece.
- Lauren Wilson, 21, of Virginia Beach, a biology major, researched the process by which a species splits and become two new species, leading to greater biodiversity.
- Fei Song, 22, of Changchun, China, a mathematics and economics major, researched individual decision-making in group environments where the individual’s welfare is tied to both the group outcome as well as his/her own decision.
- Edward Smith, 22, of Hampton, a politics honors major, researched polarization in contemporary political journalism and how it affects public opinion and political behavior.
- Katherine Estep, 22, of Charlottesville, a biomedical engineering major, researched new mathematical methods for analyzing genome-scale models of metabolism and regulation, using models to predict drug targets in infectious disease.
• Eight Claim Arts Grants
Among the graduates there are eight recipients of Undergraduate Awards for Arts Projects, which support creative expression, such as filmmaking, writing and dance. Modeled on the University’s successful Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, the arts awards give the students up to $3,000 for projects that expand their expression and showcase artistic accomplishments.
- Anna Hogg, 22, of Hampton, whose interdisciplinary major combines studio art, drama and creative writing into a study of the art of filmmaking, used her award for a film project.
- George Gleixner, 22, of Roanoke, a music major with a media studies minor in the College, completed a project involving electronic music composition.
- Alexa Vasiliadis, 22, of Great Falls, an English and studio art (with a concentration in painting) double major in the College, created a series of paintings at the Mountain Lake Biology Station.
- Monika Criman, 22, of Fairfax, a nursing major, assembled a book of reflections of the School of Nursing’s Class of 2013.
- Ali Stoner, 22, of Charlottesville, a drama and arts administration double major in the College, explored dance history.
- Victoria Kornick, 21, of Alexandria, a poetry writing and modern studies major in the College’s English department, pursued a project on the poet James Wright.
- Mitchell Oliver, 21, of Winchester, a studio art major with a concentration in photography and economics major with a concentration in public policy in the College, pursued a photography project.
- Gracie Terzian, 22, of Oakton, a drama major in the College, studied the art of aerial acrobatics performed while hanging from a suspended fabric with a 2011 arts award. She has also been named an Atlantic Coast Conference International Academic Collaborative Fellow in Creativity and Innovation.
• Michael Harte Claims Boren Scholarship
Boren Scholarships are funded by the National Security Education Program, which focuses on geographic areas (including Africa, Asia, central and eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East), languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.
Harte is a combat veteran of the U.S. Marines who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He spent a semester studying Arabic at the University of Mary Washington before joining the Marines.
Harte’s service gave him an opportunity to converse with native speakers in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he learned about the language and the people.
When he returned from the war, he took courses at Piedmont Virginia Community College and then transferred to U.Va. He said his military experience influenced his choice of majors.
• Two Graduates Earn Davis Projects for Peace Funds
Two graduates will use a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace award to help educate poor and oppressed women in Tanzania.
Lacey Williams, 21, of Columbus, Ga., and Carolyn Pelnik, 22, of Richmond, are both graduates of the Engineering School, with Williams focusing on biomedical engineering and Pelnik on engineering science and public policy. Pelnik is also a first-year student in the accelerated Master of Public Policy program in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
Their project works in partnership with the Jifundishe Free Library in Ngongongare, Tanzania, and Global Grassroots, a nongovernmental organization founded by Gretchen Steidle Wallace, a 1996 foreign affairs graduate of the College. Their plan is designed to increase women’s empowerment through agricultural and business education and microlending.
Williams and Pelnik are Jefferson Scholars, Rodman Scholars and participants in the Jefferson Public Citizens program. Williams is a member of Tau Beta Pi engineering society and the Raven Society as well as a Lawn resident. Pelnik received a 2011 Harrison Undergraduate Research Award.
Williams is a graduate of Columbus High School and plans to become a doctor, specializing in public health. Pelnik, a graduate of Henrico High School, plans to complete a graduate degree in public policy before pursuing a career in natural resource management.
• Four Study Abroad with Critical Language Scholarships
Four members of the Class of 2013 studied language overseas with Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. State Department.
They spent seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes and in cultural immersion in countries where these languages are spoken.
- Ben Bissell, 22, of Fairfax Station, is a politics honors and Russian language and literature major in the College. He studied advanced Russian in Vladimir, Russia.
- Caroline Gonya, 22, of Baltimore, Md., an interdisciplinary major in the College, studied advanced Hindi in Jaipur, India.
- Anna Lewis, 22, of Norfolk, a foreign affairs and Middle Eastern studies major with a minor in French in the College, studied advanced Arabic.
- John Joseph Vater, 22, of Oklahoma City, a modern studies in English and South Asian studies major in the College, researched how Dalits, the lowest caste in India, use Hindi literature to inculcate Dalit solidarity and challenge upper-caste Hindu hegemonic narratives in the mass media.
• Kelsey Murrell and Allison Kramer Named Beckman Scholars
The 2012-13 Beckman Scholars are Kelsey Murrell, mentored by Richard Price, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and graduate co-mentor Josh Meisner, a graduate student in the School of Medicine; and Allison Kramer, mentored by Dr. William Guilford, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Murrell’s research seeks to determine the role of the signaling enzyme focal adhesion kinase in macrophages – agents of the immune system that play a critical role in the expansion of existing blood vessels when blood flow through normal circulatory channels is blocked. Her work could lead to better understanding and treatment of peripheral artery disease.
Kramer is working to develop new laboratory methods to isolate functioning molecular motors from miniscule samples of neural tissue. She ultimately hopes to determine whether defective transport systems in nerve cells are the root cause of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
• McBride Wins Stull Family Research Award
Isaac McBride, 22, a third-year classics and history major in the College, focusing on archaic and early classical Greece, with a minor in religious studies, researched the origins of Spartan society by comparing its institutions with ones that seem similar in central Crete. His research grant of up to $3,000 is underwritten by the Stull family of Dallas.
Entering the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy was perhaps a natural progression for Sheridan Fuller after serving as class president in his Virginia Beach high school, among other activities. He has taken the opportunity to study different facets of leadership and put them into action: This year he has been president of U.Va.’s Class of 2013.
One of his last acts as president will be giving a farewell speech at Valediction, part of Finals Weekend – and he’s only slightly daunted that he’ll be speaking after the headliner, comedian Stephen Colbert.
Fuller will return to U.Va. next year to complete the Batten School’s accelerated program for a master’s degree in public policy, so he’s not really saying goodbye to U.Va. like most other graduates to whom he’ll direct his remarks on Saturday.
This fall, he’ll continue focusing on the topic he’s been working on since high school: education policy and reform. And this summer, he’ll be putting to work what he has learned so far, interning for Connecticut’s Council for Education Reform and conducting a financial analysis of schools in Waterbury.
Connecticut has the highest achievement gap between white and minority students of all 50 states, Fuller said. “I’ll get to use the tools I’ve learned and have an impact I can see,” he said.
The culmination of the internship will be giving a presentation that addresses the challenges to closing the achievement gap and looking at whether reallocating education funds can help schools with low-performing students.
“The challenges in education are not easy. You have to be committed at whatever level you’re at, whether teaching or making policies,” he said.
During the summers between college years, Fuller has gone back to Virginia Beach and worked in the Office of Student Leadership for the Virginia Beach City Public School System. The office has programs for teachers and students in middle school and high school, and has specifically focused on helping African-American male students.
“Virginia Beach started working on closing the achievement gap while I was in high school,” said Fuller, who credits his parents with instilling in him the importance of education. He also attended leadership workshops offered at his school.
With his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, Fuller planned a symposium on the advancement of education in Central Virginia, held on Grounds in April. The range of speakers representing institutions, educators, politicians, businesses and organizations included U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan, as well as several regional school superintendents and principals.
Fuller said he’s interested in the ideas and assumptions that have shaped school curricula and whether they contribute to the racial achievement gap. He wanted to present the symposium to explore “what we can do as community members to help improve education.”
“I had a peer adviser, so it sparked me to do the same,” he said, stressing the importance of learning from classmates.
He’s also been a resident adviser and last year was the senior resident, leading the staff of RAs for Bonneycastle and Hancock dorms. He’ll be an RA next year, too.
As a student worker for U.Va. Reunions, he helped coordinate last year’s Black Alumni Weekend.
As head of the 2013 class trustees, Fuller led the programming efforts this year, a combination of social events “to bring the class together,” he said, and workshops, often involving alumni, to help fourth-year students with the transition to life after college and pursuing careers.
Although Fuller might seem to have his own path figured out, he has not taken his educational opportunities for granted, he said.
“I’ve been exposed to things that make you think,” he said. From some of his classes, especially those with associate history professor Claudrena Harold in the College of Arts & Sciences, he learned to take a balanced approach to issues of race in America, he said, to explore the politics of interpretation and expose misperceptions.
For him, the hardest lesson in college has been developing self-awareness and reflection, he said. That has helped him explore his interests, focus on them and review what his life’s journey is all about – which undoubtedly will inform his actions as a leader in the future.
Emanuel Grant’s introduction to the world of massive open online courses – a/k/a “MOOCs” – came this spring in his final undergraduate semester at the University of Virginia.
The Italian studies major from Fairfax served as a volunteer “Community TA” for the online version of philosophy professor Mitchell Green’s “Know Thyself” class that Grant was taking in person on Grounds. Launched in March, the MOOC drew thousands of online students from around the world, and Grant was impressed by the enthusiasm with which they discussed the course topics on the online forums he helped to monitor.
The weekly multiple-choice tests that the MOOC students must pass to complete their no-credit version of the course don’t warrant the study demands imposed on Grant and the other U.Va. students who took Green’s course for University credit this spring, Grant said. However, the enthusiasm for the material was much more evident among online students, he said.
The quality of the learning experience convinced him to sign up for several math-related MOOCs this summer as a refresher before he takes the MCAT exam for medical school.
“Whereas a U.Va. student has the advantage of being able to meet with professors one-on-one during office hours, it is a privilege that is not always pursued,” Grant, 21, said. “The very nature of the MOOC recruits students who are willing to do any- and everything to get their questions answered online.”
U.Va.’s decision last summer to enter into a partnership with Coursera, which also offers an online platform for courses offered by Stanford University, Princeton University and other leading institutions, marked an effort to expand the reach of its academic offerings to a global audience eager to sample free, noncredit versions of the course offered on Grounds.
Attrition in online participation in MOOCs is common. Of the 72,781 students who initially enrolled for Green’s online course, for example, only 9,140 remained active after 10 weeks.
The thousands who remained, however, spanned the globe.
“One of the most satisfying aspects of the course was that it enabled me to provoke thoughtful debate among people around the world,” Green said. “I asked whether Socrates was correct to claim that the unexamined life is not worth living, and soon I could see the discussion forum abuzz with, for example, one person from Lima, Peru debating with someone else from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, about whether his claim is correct.
“With more than 100 countries represented, my Coursera students benefited from exposure to an astonishing variety of perspectives on many of the enduring questions that the course explored.”
Other faculty across a variety of academic departments launched MOOC version of popular on-Grounds courses, while others experimented with “flipped” course structures that relied on online lectures and online quizzes to open up more time in the classroom for a deeper give-and-take between faculty and students.
Ten faculty members, including biology professor Claire Cronmiller, drama professor Colleen Kelly and law professor J.H. “Rip” Verkerke were awarded challenge grants to flip their courses and redesign them with online tools.
It amounted to a crash course for faculty members who took on the imposing challenge of recording, editing and troubleshooting series of online lectures on top of the other demands of teaching their courses.
Physics professor Louis Bloomfield, who launched a MOOC version of his popular “How Things Work” course, said it was “wildly unrealistic” for him to consider juggling production of the MOOC while teaching his usual courses on Grounds this spring. Bloomfield ended up taking a leave this spring to concentrate on the MOOC, which had more than 4,000 active participants in its final week.
“I think it’s worth the investment, but I ended up putting in about 100 hours per hour of video, and I did it myself,” Bloomfield said. “I was filming, writing or editing from 8 in the morning to 7 at night, day after day after day. It would take me about two weeks to produce each episode.”
Verkerke had a similar experience.
“Preparing screencast lectures was unbelievably time-consuming,” Verkerke said. “It took me about an hour to prepare each minute of screencast video. You have to decide what topics to cover, write a script that’s both thorough and concise, create effective slides and finally wrestle with the technical aspects of recording and posting the files.”
At the same time, the feedback from online students has been positive.
“This is a very valuable experience for a lot of people,” said Bloomfield, who has in his office a sack stuffed with thank-you letters and postcards from online students.
“We are clearly at the ‘early adopter’ stage where the faculty who are participating are driven by passion,” Simon said. “Preparing courses like MOOCs takes a significant investment of time and resources. If this does expand, we will need to figure out how best to support the efforts at the institutional level. The courses run this year are teaching us about what it takes to make it sustainable. We are learning a lot.”
The reaction to Verkerke’s flipped course on Contract Law among first-year law students was somewhat mixed. Most embraced the active learning exercises and enthusiastically endorsed the distinctive teaching methods, he said, while a few expressed a preference for the more traditional, “Paper Chase” model of Socratic dialogue they had anticipated. Verkerke thought that weekly online quizzes and student responses to in-class exercises gave him a much better sense of how well his students understood the subject. “There was a sense, for me as an instructor, of having a finger on the pulse of their understanding,” he said.
Verkerke used a pared-down version of the flipped approach in the “Employment Law: Health and Safety” course he taught in the spring. Graduating law student Genevieve Aguilar and other students in the class regularly broke off into three-student groups for peer discussion of questions that Verkerke posed online using the Learning Catalytics student response system. These discussions gave students frequent opportunities to make and evaluate legal arguments. At the end of each small group discussion, Verkerke would bring the whole class back together to debrief and discuss the best answers.
“It took a little adjustment, because with the Socratic method, you just listen to your professor lecture, but you don’t have debates or discussions with your fellow classmates,” Aguilar said. “We had instant feedback with the online quiz. Rip would pose a question about what we thought about a case, and we would anonymously send in a response. We would speak with our classmates about our responses, and then submit answers to the online quiz again. Rip could see our level of understanding both before and after our peer discussions. It’s a lot more active than just listening to a lecture. The method was very effective.”
“I thought it was definitely a more effective way to learn,” graduating English major Paul Harris said. “I found the video presentations outside of class to be extremely useful. The ability to pause and rewind while taking notes was a definite plus. Further, the discussions Zelikow led during class time I felt supplemented my understanding of the material. I'm not a history major, but I can certainly see this technique being implemented across the curriculum. …
“The only hiccup in my opinion was that the readings were a bit much on top of everything else. I definitely found most of them to be good reads – and obviously pertinent to the course material – but it was often a challenge to complete all of the readings each week.”
As a fourth-year history major, Drew Brophy said he was impressed by the quality of reading assigned to Zelikow’s survey course. The video lectures freed up more time for more interesting conversations in the classroom with Zelikow, he said.
“I think there’s a lot of potential for lower-level classes, because there’s very little interaction with the professor right now outside of office hours. With the MOOC technology, there’s also an incredible opportunity to hold students accountable to do the reading and be ready to engage with the professor in class.”
One debate among faculty members revolves around the University’s ultimate commitment to recognizing the effort involved in launching MOOCs and adding online components to teaching.
“Frankly, if you’re an academic faculty member, your status, your salary, all the perquisites of faculty life, turn on research only, and not at all on your efforts in innovating in teaching,” Verkerke said. “Given that’s the case, every minute you spend, never mind every hour that you spend, working on a screencast lecture is an hour you didn’t work on a new paper to publish to improve your standing.
If the University has any interest in exploring these methods, there’s an extreme conflict between the time demands of doing it well, and the incentive structure that’s in place for academic faculty members.”
Provost Simon said most MOOCs right now are contributions to both teaching and service, and they would be counted as such in promotion reviews.
“It is hard to say what role these will play in education going forward, but our promotion and tenure processes would need to take such roles into account,” he said.
Those who have expanded their reach to students across the globe with new MOOCs said there’s value in the enterprise.
Ed Hess was the first Darden faculty member to launch and manage a MOOC course on Coursera. His entrepreneurial “Grow to Greatness” MOOC far exceeded his expectations, he said. More than 10,000 people completed the free, online version of the course.
“The quality of the conversations on the discussion forums was outstanding,” he said. “We had thousands of people actually participating, learning from each other, sharing, asking good questions. And the workshops posted on the forums, the work product was of high quality and in many cases as good as my MBA students.’
“The outpouring of thankfulness to the University and to Darden and the production team that did all the work was very meaningful. It was very clear there’s a need out there for knowledge all around the world for people who may not have the opportunity to come to the University of Virginia or Darden.”