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U.Va.’s Daniel Judge Appointed as New Student Board of Visitors Member

1 hour 17 min ago
Lauren Jones

From the start of his time at the University of Virginia in 2012, Daniel Judge knew he wanted to be involved in student governance.

Though the Berryville native had been skeptical about enrolling in the same college as his older sister, his impression of the abundance of opportunities to dive into student life at U.Va. helped him decide that the Grounds might just be big enough for the two of them. 

“The size of my town is smaller than [last year’s] incoming class at U.Va., so it was a shock coming here and seeing how much you could do, how many people you could meet and how strange it was not knowing people,” he said. “So I knew I wanted to get involved.”

Now a third-year student, Judge recently was selected as the non-voting student representative of the University’s Board of Visitors for the 2015-16 academic term.

A double major in political philosophy, policy and law and philosophy, with a minor in religious studies, Judge joined Student Council during his first semester by serving on the Academic Affairs Committee, which he now co-chairs. He is also an active member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society; a mentor in ULINK, an academic peer advising program for undergraduate students; the student liaison to the SIS Advisory Board; a research assistant at the School of Law; and is involved in Cru Christian Fellowship.

In his work on the Academic Affairs Committee, Judge has been responsible for addressing the academic and educational concerns of students and for offering University leaders a student perspective on academic policies. The committee takes up issues that students don’t always think about, he said, but can really make a big impact; one of their current tasks, for example, is working with administrators to help give nursing students better access to Spanish classes.

Though he’d never imagined he’d one day fill the student BOV spot, he’d been interested in the position since his first year, when then-student representative Blake Blaze visited Student Council to talk about his role on the board.

“This week when people at home heard that I got the student BOV position, they told me, ‘Congratulations! I didn’t realize you were trying to work for the tourism industry!’” Judge laughed. “When I came here I guess I had the same perspective. But [Blaze’s talk] put it on my radar, and then I was really impressed with how engaged Meg [Gould] was in the position this past year. I saw how she fueled lots of discussions to the board about things like student safety last semester. She handled it all really well, and got me interested in applying for the position.”

Judge’s one-year appointment starts June 1. His role will be to engage students and administrators from every part of the University – including graduate schools and the University of Virginia’s College at Wiseto examine trends and issues in student life and see how it can be improved. The student representative does not have a vote, but his or her voice plays an integral part in helping the board assess the University’s strategic direction.

At the forefront of Judge’s priorities is to continue the progress made regarding student safety at U.Va. He also plans to advocate for more collaboration in schools and departments across Grounds with regard to both education and research, and would like to to bring more students in front of the board to talk about issues that matter to them.

“No matter how well I relate information, there’s always something that’s lost in that chain, which is why I think the best way to represent is to help give students the opportunity to represent themselves,” he said, noting the way that firsthand student perspectives impacted last December’s emergency board meeting to address the University’s sexual assault policies. 

To represent the student body well, he said, will require a broad approach – and to represent well, he’s prepared to take on some major legwork.

“I want to talk to leaders of student groups I know, and then have them refer me to other groups they know, and just talk to as many groups and individuals as possible,” Judge said. “It’s not enough to just go to the more high-profile student organizations, like [the Honor Committee]; you need to go to all these groups. It’ll be a slow process, but in a lot of ways I think it’s the best way to reach the full breadth of the school.”

He also plans to hold meetings in first-year dorms, with graduate students, and to hold weekly office hours, where he will be available to talk to any U.Va. student who wants to meet with him.

“It’s cool because I really like being engaged in the community – it’s something my parents did, grandparents did, and my sister has always done,” he said. “I didn’t imagine I’d have the opportunity to get engaged in this way, but it’s exciting to sit down on all the issues that I’ve cared about for a long time and see that I can really represent the student voice, and my own voice.”

Arras, Bioethics Commission: U.S. Must Respond to Global Health Outbreaks

Wed, 2015-03-04 16:32

Last summer, West Africa fell into the grip of a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has thus far taken the lives of more than 9,500 people. The fear swept up by the epidemic quickly jumped across the Atlantic and landed in the United States as people who had been in Africa traveled home.

Local, regional and national debate over quarantine procedures quickly erupted and it became clear there was no consensus on policy. Who should be quarantined? For how long? These were some of the questions taken up by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, whose members – including the University of Virginia’s John D. Arras – issued a national report late last month on how the Ebola outbreak should inform future U.S. responses to global public health emergencies.

It recommended three strategies:

  1. Strengthen the capacity of the World Health Organization to respond global health emergencies;
  2. Identify and empower a single U.S. health official to be accountable for all federal domestic and international public health emergency response activities;
  3. Strengthen the deployment capabilities of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Arras, Porterfield Professor of Biomedical Ethics and professor of philosophy and public health sciences, has served on the commission since its formation in 2010 and talked with UVA Today about the results of the report, how the commission works and how it links to his teaching at U.Va.

Q. The presidential commission said the federal government has a prudential and moral responsibility to actively participate in global responses to public health emergencies wherever they arise. Why should the United States be concerned about an epidemic in West Africa?

A. Two kinds of concerns came together. One is humanitarian and justice-based. We are a well-off country and we have an economic obligation to alleviate suffering elsewhere. The second reason is prudential. It is in our national interest to be concerned about these types of epidemics because they do not respect borders. As we saw last summer and fall, it can cause problems in the United States. The way to stem the tide of Ebola is to do it in West Africa.

Q. What are the commission’s recommendations regarding quarantine?

A. The commission is recommending governments and public health organizations employ the least restrictive means necessary based on the best available scientific evidence.

Q. Nurse Kaci Hickox returned to the United States after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and gained national attention when she refused quarantine in Maine after showing no symptoms and a negative blood test. What is your take on that situation?

A. Here you have a nurse working for Doctors Without Borders, selflessly going to one of these dangerous hot spots, and when she comes back to the United States is treated like a pariah. Often the politicians making these quarantine judgments are doing so on political grounds. You want a policy to encourage health workers to join the fight and what these measures do is the opposite. We believe a lot of the reaction has not been based on science; it has been based on hysteria.

Q. How does the commission get its work done?

A. We begin with topic selection. Requests are often handed down from the White House, but sometimes we propose our own projects. We then hold several of our quarterly meetings on a given topic, inviting major players and stakeholders to participate in our deliberations.

One nice thing about working for this commission is that we can get top-flight speakers. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, addressed a meeting in November. Helene Gail, the president of Care, also spoke to us.

Q. What will happen with the report now?

A. All we can do is make our recommendations. We think they can assist in future health emergencies. Sometimes commissions issue reports and insist on action by a certain date. We did not do that here, but one of the themes woven through all of our sessions was the importance of preparing now for the next big thing. It’s hard to predict when or where, but we just know it’s going to happen.

Q. Do you think your work on the commission has had an impact in the classroom?

A. All of this work has enriched my scholarship and teaching. I built a seminar on neuroscience and the law that is a direct result of my work on the commission. I taught it last fall with psychiatry professor Donna Chen to a group of advanced undergraduates. We had about 12 students total, six in cognitive science and six in philosophy. It was really fun.

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law: Joan E. Donoghue

Wed, 2015-03-04 08:55
Mary Wood

Joan E. Donoghue was elected a judge of the International Court of Justice on Sept. 9, 2010 – only the third woman chosen to be a member of the court. The General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations then re-elected her for a nine-year term beginning Feb. 16.

Established in 1945 and located in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Composed of 15 judges, it settles disputes between nations and renders advisory opinions at the request of other organs of the United Nations.

Since joining the U.S. Department of State in 1984, Donoghue has pursued a distinguished career in international law. In support of her nomination for a second term, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked, “Since joining the court in 2010, Judge Donoghue has demonstrated exceptional intelligence, integrity and independence in addressing the diverse and complex issues that come before the court. Her knowledge, temperament and commitment to the rule of law make her an outstanding choice for this important position.”

As the principal deputy legal adviser from 2007 to 2010, Donoghue was the State Department’s senior career lawyer, and served as the acting legal adviser to the secretary of state for the first six months of the Obama administration. For this work, she received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Honor Award and the Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious Executive).

Donoghue’s earlier responsibilities in the Office of the Legal Adviser included economic sanctions, investment, aviation, the law of the sea, international environmental law, state and official immunity, and responsibility for issues arising in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In addition to her service at the State Department, Donoghue served as general counsel and corporate secretary for Freddie Mac, and as deputy general counsel for the Department of the Treasury. She also served as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow.

She has taught at several U.S. law schools and has lectured widely on international law. Within the United States, she focuses particular attention on audiences who are not familiar with the role that international law plays in their daily lives. She also has lectured on investment law in the United Nations Regional Training Course for Africa.

"Joan Donoghue began her career in international law more than 30 years ago. During her many years of service at the U.S. State Department, she was responsible for a succession of diverse and important issues, culminating in three years of service as the Department of State’s senior career lawyer,” said Paul Mahoney, dean of the University of Virginia School of Law. “In this role, she helped direct a large legal office that advises one of the world’s most complicated organizations on some of the world’s most delicate legal issues. As a judge of the International Court of Justice, she participates in settling disputes between states and in fostering the progressive development of international law.”

Donoghue was born in 1956 in Yonkers, New York. In 1978, she graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with honors degrees in Russian studies and biology. She received her juris doctor in 1981 from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Her past awards include the Secretary of State Distinguished Honor Award, the Presidential Rank Award and honors from the Federal Bar Association.

The School of Law will host a public talk by Donoghue on April 13 at 10 a.m. in its Caplin Pavilion.

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture: Herman Hertzberger

Wed, 2015-03-04 08:54
Cynthia Smith

Internationally acclaimed Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger opened his own firm of architects in 1960, the present-day Architectuurstudio HH – known for its many schools, housing complexes and cultural centers, both in the Netherlands and in other countries. Among its most famous buildings are the headquarters of Centraal Beheer insurance company in Apeldoorn, the Vredenburg Music Centre in Utrecht and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in The Hague.

Hertzberger has won numerous competitions and international architecture prizes, both for individual projects and for his oeuvre as a whole. In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal, given in recognition of a distinguished body of work.

Hertzberger is acclaimed as a “sociological architect” and creator of innovative common spaces. In his writings and buildings, he challenged the early modernist belief that “form follows function” – that the shape of the building was defined by its purpose. His celebrated Montessori School in Delft rethought classroom design, acknowledging that the school operates on two levels, addressing the needs of both the community and the child, and developing architectural forms that maximized interactivity and equity between the educational program and the individual’s needs.

Additionally, his use of an open field of repetitive geometry in the design of the Centraal Beheer headquarters offices expressed the equality of all employees. Hertzberger’s elongated atrium in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment was one of the first successful developments of the concept of “the internal street.

 “Herman Hertzberger is the rare architect who excels as a designer, a theorist and an educator,” said Elizabeth Meyer, dean of the University of Virginia School of Architecture. “For 50 years, he has pursued a set of enduring concerns that are timeless, resonating across decades and generations. (His) architecture revels in the everyday, creates spatial frameworks that are adaptable and responsive, and exploits the affective qualities of architectural form and space.” 

“I am especially pleased that Hertzberger is our 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist,” she continued. “He has substantial expertise in designing buildings that shape the public realm at all scales, from a stoop to an interior courtyard atrium to a street, and that emphasize the gradient or threshold between public and private. This is one of the architect’s most important tasks. This preoccupation with the ‘in-between’ of architecture is part of what differentiates our university’s historic Grounds from many campuses; it is also a characteristic of the School of Architecture’s cross-disciplinary ethos.”

Hertzberger’s projects have been published and exhibited all over the world. He was one of the editors of FORUM, an influential Dutch magazine, and he published the books “Lessons for Students in Architecture” (1991), “Space and the Architect” (2000) and “Herman Hertzberger: Space and Learning” (2008). In addition to the many books written about him, his work has been featured in two documentaries, the 2010 “Searching for Space,” by director Kees Hin, and “The School as City,” by Moniek van de Vall and Gustaaf Vos in 2012. His latest book, “Architecture and Structuralism: The Ordering of Space,” will be available in May.

Hertzberger was born in Amsterdam in 1932 and graduated from the Technical University in Delft in 1958. He has lectured and taught around the world, including at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, the Technical University of Delft and the University of Geneva in Switzerland. He also served as dean of the post-graduate architecture program at the Berlage Institute.

The School of Architecture will host a public talk by Hertzberger on April 13 at 3 p.m. in the University of Virginia’s Caplin Theater. Free parking is available in the Culbreth Road Garage.

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership: John Lewis

Wed, 2015-03-04 08:54
Bruce A. Vlk

Born the son of sharecroppers on Feb. 21, 1940 outside of Troy, Alabama, John Lewis grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama.

His rise to prominence began as a student at Fisk University, when he organized sit-in demonstrations at Nashville’s segregated lunch counters. In 1961, Lewis volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. He risked his life on those rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism, including sit-ins and other activities.

By 1963, at the age of 23, he was dubbed one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. He was an architect of, and a keynote speaker at, the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

In 1964, Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi “Freedom Summer.” The following year, he helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Alongside Hosea Williams, he led more than 600 peaceful, orderly protesters on an intended march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. On March 7, 1965, as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty in the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Despite enduring more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as associate director of the Field Foundation and through his participation in the Southern Regional Council’s voter registration programs. Lewis went on to direct the Voter Education Project, which transformed the nation’s political climate by adding nearly 4 million African-Americans to the voter rolls.

“Congressman Lewis exemplifies citizen leadership,” said Allan Stam, dean of the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. “From his days as a student leader to his co-founding of SNCC to his long career as an elected official, he has selflessly served the public good. We are honored to welcome him to the University of Virginia for this special occasion.”

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Lewis to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.

In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council, where he advocated for ethics in government and neighborhood preservation. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986 and has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then. He is the Democratic Party’s senior chief deputy whip, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

U.Va., Monticello Announce Winners of 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals

Wed, 2015-03-04 08:53

The University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello will present their highest honors, the 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals in Architecture, Law and Citizen Leadership, respectively, to:

  • Herman Hertzberger, an internationally acclaimed Dutch architect and recipient of the 2012 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gold Medal who established his firm, Architectuurstudio HH, in 1960 and who since has made significant contributions to the world of modern architecture. (Full bio here.) 
  • The Honorable Joan E. Donoghue, the current American representative judge serving on the International Court of Justice and a lifelong public servant in the realms of international and American diplomatic law. (Full bio here.) 
  • U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights activist, lifelong public servant and central player in America’s struggle for equal rights. Lewis chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and organized the march from Selma to Montgomery, which took place 50 years ago this week, on March 7, 1965. (Full bio here.)

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals recognize the exemplary contributions of recipients to the endeavors in which Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard.

“The University of Virginia is proud to celebrate these leaders, who truly embody the ideals and spirit of Thomas Jefferson,” U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “These recipients not only exemplify premier talent in their fields, but also, like Jefferson, they provide essential leadership for our world in the areas of architecture, law and citizen leadership.”

The medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which grants no honorary degrees. The awards are presented annually on Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, by the president of the University of Virginia, and by the president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the independent, nonprofit organization that owns and operates his home, Monticello. April 13 is known locally as Founders Day, celebrating Jefferson’s founding of U.Va. in Charlottesville in 1819.

“Thomas Jefferson devoted more than 40 years to serving his new country – seeking not only to improve government, but also architecture, science and education,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “He sought to create a society that would transform his vision for human progress into reality, fully aware that his dreams would not be realized in his own lifetime. We are honored to welcome the 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal recipients, each of whom, like Jefferson, has had a profound impact on our world and will inspire future generations of leaders.”

Bowman and Sullivan will present the medals, struck for the occasion, to each of the recipients at a luncheon in U.Va.’s Garrett Hall. Following the presentation, the recipients will each give a free public lecture at U.Va. and will be honored at a formal dinner at Monticello.

Lewis also will be the featured speaker at Monticello’s commemoration of Jefferson’s 272nd birthday on April 13 at 10 a.m. on the West Lawn of Monticello. The celebration is free and open to the public. The ceremony will be live-streamed online at monticello.org/john-lewis-live.

This year’s medalists join a distinguished roster of past winners that includes architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and Maya Lin; seven former and current U.S. Supreme Court justices; former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher; Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America; Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; and several former and current U.S. senators, including John Warner, George Mitchell, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Sam Nunn and James H. Webb Jr.

About Monticello

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, the foundation seeks to engage a global audience in a dialogue with Jefferson’s ideas. Monticello is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a United Nations World Heritage Site. As a private, nonprofit organization, the foundation’s regular operating budget does not receive ongoing government support to fund its twofold mission of preservation and education. About 440,000 people visit Monticello each year. For information, visit www.monticello.org.

About the University of Virginia

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia sustains the ideal of developing, through education, leaders who are well-prepared to help shape the future of the nation and the world. The University is public, while nourished by the strong support of its alumni. It is also selective; the students who come here have been chosen because they show the exceptional promise Jefferson envisioned.

U.Va. in China: Officials to Celebrate Grand Opening of Shanghai Office

Tue, 2015-03-03 15:32

The University of Virginia is celebrating the official opening of its office in China with a busy, two-day event that will kick off a full year of special academic programing and engagement in the world’s most populous region.

U.Va. established an office in Shanghai two years ago to strengthen its academic programs, research, internships, alumni engagement and recruitment of students.

The Year of U.Va. Opening in China” starts Friday at Shanghai’s Waldorf Astoria Club. Academics and experts in architecture, business and economics will gather for “China’s Urbanization: The Next Challenge,” a conference that will examine the challenges posed by the country’s rapid growth.

The conference will be followed by a gala celebration in a ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria Club, attended by senior leadership from U.Va., government officials, alumni, parents and friends.

“Our China office has contributed to many opportunities for our faculty and students,” said Vice Provost for Global Affairs Jeffrey W. Legro, speaking ahead of the celebration. “We know that China’s rise begs our continued, deep engagement. It has implications for much of what we do as a University.”

In addition to Legro, U.Va’s delegation includes School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean James H. Aylor, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ian Baucom, Darden School of Business Dean Robert F. Bruner, Vice Provost for Academic Outreach and Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies Billy K. Cannaday, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick D. Hogan and McIntire School of Commerce Dean Carl P. Zeithaml. A list of the full delegation can be viewed here.

The Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai, Hanscom Smith, will deliver a talk at the celebration.

On Saturday, the U.Va. China Office director, Justin O’Jack, will give welcoming remarks at an open house where the deans will unveil of a model of the Rotunda.

“The Year of U.Va. Opening in China” features a spectrum of events in China from schools across the University. Highlights include:

The establishment of the office is the result of a deliberate process. U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan led a delegation to China in the spring of 2012 to strengthen the University’s partnerships in education and research and to further raise the profile of the University as a top-tier global research university. The following winter, Executive Vice President and Provost John D. Simon and Legro visited Mainland China and Hong Kong to reaffirm President Sullivan’s commitment to expanding and strengthening U.Va.’s efforts.

O’Jack was appointed China Office director in the fall of 2013. “‘Tireless’ does not begin to describe Justin’s work since coming on board,” said Legro. “He has become known for producing results and has fans across the University,” he said.

First QuestBridge Scholars Excel on Grounds, Are Poised to Graduate

Tue, 2015-03-03 15:18
Ashley Patterson

The idea of attending the University of Virginia was not even on the radar when Heather Berg was in high school. But a national program that U.Va. joined four years ago changed all of that.

The program, QuestBridge, connects high-achieving students who may have obstacles to attending college with some of the country’s best universities. In 2010, U.Va. joined the group of elite QuestBridge partners, which includes Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Emory and Dartmouth universities.

This spring, Berg and seven others are on track to become the first QuestBridge scholarship recipients to earn their degrees from U.Va.

“It’s worked out so that everything I’ve wanted to do has been an option for me,” said Berg, who will graduate from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. “From a personal standpoint, I never would have studied abroad or done a lot of things that I’ve done in college if I wasn’t a part of QuestBridge.”

Gregory Roberts, dean of undergraduate admission, said he is heartened, but not surprised by the students’ accomplishments.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since we admitted our first QuestBridge class. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these extraordinary students during their time on Grounds,” Roberts said.

“This group set the foundation for future classes of QuestBridge students who have enrolled and thrived at the University, often despite tremendous hardship and life obstacles. These students are hard-working, dedicated, smart and resilient, and while we are inspired by their stories, we are most moved by their accomplishments here on Grounds. Working with this group has been a highlight of my career in higher education.”

Highly competitive

The QuestBridge application process reflects the competitiveness of the program.

This year, QuestBridge received 11,654 applications for the mid-September deadline. By mid-October, 4,180 finalists were selected and invited to apply to and rank eight of the QuestBridge partner schools. Through the QuestBridge match program, scholars are matched with the school that falls highest on their list and accepts them.

Of the 4,000-plus finalists, U.Va. typically receives 300 applications and offers about 10 scholarships, which cover tuition, fees and living expenses.

When reading the QuestBridge applications, U.Va. considers the applicants in a unique pool of their peers.

“When we’re reading these QuestBridge applications, we’re seeing students who have achieved despite life challenges,” said Valerie Gregory, associate dean in the Office of Undergraduate Admission and director of outreach.

The life experiences reflected in the applications have included both challenging and atypical family stories. Nevertheless, each scholar proved a standout in high school, with academic records that matched or exceeded U.Va.’s admission qualifications.

In addition to working throughout high school, Berg received a 3.8 unweighted grade-point average. She excelled on standardized tests as well, scoring a 2020 on her three-part SAT and 32 on the ACT. The median range for SAT scores at U.Va. is 1870 to 2180, and 28 to 33 for the ACT.

“Their stories are just incredible and they’re academically off the charts,” Gregory said.

The 2015 graduating class of QuestBridge scholars ranges from Hawa Ahmed, whose mother was a 15-year-old bride and had her in a refugee camp, to Marvin Nogueda, who managed to escape the gang life of his neighborhood by finding companionship in television and books. Nogueda is a fourth-year student staying an additional year to earn his master’s degree from the Curry School of Education.

Beyond the Classroom

Gregory has dubbed Ahmed the “political activist” of the QuestBridge scholars. In the summer of 2013, she biked 4,256 miles across the U.S., while building houses along her journey with the Bike-and-Build program. She is also president of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team, a resident adviser and a first-year seminar mentor. Ahmed participates in these activities in addition to her work with the admission office and the Office of Orientation and New Student Programs. She also spoke about her college experiences at TEDxCharlottesville in November 2013.

Berg, on the other hand, has studied abroad four times while at U.Va., including traveling around the world with Semester at Sea. She also interned in Mpumalanga, South Africa for ThinkImpact, as well as in U.Va.’s Office of Admission. She serves as a moderator with Sustained Dialogue, an organization that brings U.Va. community members together to discuss conflicts, in addition being a founding member of the Restore AccessUVA campaign.

Nogueda laughs at the memory of joining 13 clubs during his first year, yet he remains extremely involved. He is now a student representative on the Curry Foundation Board, a member of the Peer Mentoring Program and the Living Wage Campaign. He also serves as a student ambassador.

As for the other graduating QuestBridge scholars, Natalie Luque is the president of the Latino Student Alliance. Allie Kerstein is a student in the McIntire School of Commerce and a sister of Alpha Chi Omega sorority who also spends her time volunteering with the Bridging the Gap and Day in the Life Madison House programs.

Gregory calls Tiffany Lindsay “the next great novelist.” Jean-Philippe Nau is involved with the Gates Millennium Scholars Network on Grounds, and works as an operations manager at Newcomb Hall while also working in the Office of the Dean of Students. Additionally, he is vice president of the Collegiate 100 Society at U.Va. Arianna Trickery has taken on leadership roles with different organizations around Grounds, including “To Write Love on Her Arms,” a nonprofit dedicated to helping those struggling with addiction and depression, in addition to volunteering with Madison House and working as a barista.

Expanding the Meaning of Diversity

The QuestBridge program is an important part of the University’s efforts to increase socioeconomic diversity.

U.Va. meets 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need of all undergraduate students through its AccessUVA financial aid program. It is one of only two public universities in the country to meet 100 percent of need of all in-state and out-of-state students, while also offering admission on a need-blind basis. That means the University considers a potential student’s financial situation only after an offer of admission is extended.

The University also provides assistance for high-achieving students with financial need through the Blue Ridge Scholarships, launched in 2014 with an $8 million matching pledge program from Board of Visitors member and U.Va. alumnus John Griffin.

About 34 percent of undergraduate students have demonstrated financial need, up from 24 percent in 2004.

“Whenever you said ‘diversity’ 10 years ago, people’s minds went immediately to race. I think because of the different waves we’ve had, diversity has broadened itself,” Gregory said.

Today, around 30 percent of U.Va. students are minorities, including African-American students, American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, as well as students who describe themselves as multi-race.

“QuestBridge has helped the University appreciate the diversity and contributions this diversity can make to an institution like this,” Gregory said. “We are better because of it. We are so much better because we’ve been able to find the Hawas in the world, the J.P.s in the world, and the Marvins.”

Berg concurred. “The more voices and perspectives that you can get in a classroom really enriches everyone’s experience. I know I’ve really benefited from people with backgrounds different from my own.”

Gregory said she believes one of the key elements of increasing diversity is breaking down the perceived walls that traditionally surround the U.Va. image.

For Ahmed, a foreign affairs major, breaking down the walls has meant standing on the front lines of the University’s initiative to increase diversity. She was a member of U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan’s Task Force on Access and Communication, which provided recommendations on how to increase the acceptance of admission offers made to minority students.

“There are a lot of urban legends associated with the image of U.Va. This image of a preppy, white, homogenous place – that’s not true,” Ahmed said. “There are a lot of students here who are people of color and low income, who are having a great time but just don’t talk about it. We should be celebrating the success that we do have.”

For Ahmed, the idea of going to college was at best a remote possibility.

“I didn’t think college was anywhere in my future,” she said. “I always thought about college, but as for seeing myself there, it was kind of a black hole. I didn’t really think much about it.”

Berg said money was “always very, very tight growing up.”

“I didn’t really realize how bad it was growing up, because that was the only experience I ever had. I didn’t have anything to compare my experience to,” she said.

Nogueda had a similar financial experience. “I never knew I was growing up in poverty. My mom had a stable, low-income job, but she was the only one working [and bringing in] the only income we had in our home,” he said.

“Still to this day, I can remember the doubts that I had [about QuestBridge]. It is a scholarship that pays for you to go to school, but that sounds too good to be true,” Ahmed said.

As she nears graduation, Ahmed describes QuestBridge as her “happy ending.” But for each of these students it’s clear that U.Va. is only the catalyst for advancement in their lives.

“I have such optimism and belief that these students will continue to be movers and shakers when they go out into the world,” Gregory said. “We can all be proud that U.Va. has helped them become true difference-makers.”

Listening to New York: Architecture Professor Captures Sounds of the City

Mon, 2015-03-02 16:31
Robert Hull

From “I Love New York” to “New York, New York,” a plethora of songs have provided a rich musical legacy about New York City. But what about the city’s sonic landscape – the noise and scrape of early morning garbage trucks or the non-stop chatter of an endless array of languages competing all at once?

As an expert in the field of “soundscape architecture,” Karen Van Lengen, Kenan Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia and a former dean of U.Va.’s School of Architecture, has spent time collecting and documenting such sounds of the city.

The results of her work will be on exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York March 10 through June 7 in the audio-visual installation, “Soundscape New York.” The immersive exhibit enhances the experience of iconic New York City buildings through a combination of audio and interpretive animations projected on a screen.

A collaboration between Van Lengen and artist James Welty, “Soundscape New York” features the actual sounds of a space coordinated with a visual animation. For example, Grand Central Terminal’s soundscape includes clangs and echoes, depicting a flow of movement that amplifies the station’s status as a primary transportation portal of New York City.

Van Lengen recorded and edited audio of the New York spaces and then made drawings in conjunction with particular sounds. Using Van Lengen’s drawings, Welty created the animated spatial environments and choreographed the sound figures that express various textures of the buildings.

“Soundscape New York” is part of the “Soundscape Architecture” website created in 2014 with U.Va.’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. Lauren Massari, a U.Va. alumna in architectural history and a multimedia designer for IATH, also contributed to the project.

In celebration of the opening of her new exhibit in New York, we sat down to find out more about her unique field of study.

Q. What exactly is “soundscape architecture”? What does it actually mean to have “an auditory understanding of architecture?”

A. “Soundscape Architecture” is the name of the website launched last year to celebrate the characteristic sounds associated with particular iconic buildings in architecture. Grand Central Terminal is a good example: It has an oceanic sound that fills us with the joy of being in one of the great world centers. As designers of spaces, architects pay little attention to aural qualities in the making of architecture, but sound does become deeply influential in our experience of spaces that we make.

Q. How does your research with sound have practical applications to architectural design. Beyond creating art, what’s the purpose?

A. Both the website and the exhibition in New York are ways of celebrating the act of attentive listening – of all that we can discover, enjoy and remember about our travels through spaces. Architectural design begins with an awareness of spatial characteristics and how they have been deployed to create successful architectures. I am simply interested in elevating the status of aural perceptions to create a more equal partnership with the visual components of architecture and its design process.

Q.  How do we get people to focus and listen to their own environments and better understand the public realm through listening? Why is this so important?

A. Sound is ephemeral, but when we listen attentively to a space, we discover the multiple layers of information far beyond what we can see. We become participants in the fluid space of actions, words and the sounds that we share with others. The physical public realm is still our strongest collective entity from which we can directly engage in one another’s lives.

The act of listening opens us up to a world of wonder, complexity, diversity and shared memories. To listen is to be present and gives us access to this world of wonder – to its possibilities of experiencing special places and sharing them with others. 

Q. How did you go about recording and collecting the sounds of New York City that are incorporated in your new project and this exhibit?

A. I made several recordings of each space. They are all different and yet they all share common characteristics. When I returned to the studio, I listened to all of the samples and eventually selected one 60-second segment that I felt captured the sense and quality of the space. While recording, I used a handheld recorder with binaural microphones placed near my ears in order to simulate the actual sensation of listening in that space. 

Q. How did you choose the architectural spaces you recorded?

A. I spent almost 30 years of my life living in New York City negotiating all kinds of sounds, so I have a deep experience with the city’s sounds. The spaces used for our exhibition and website are the spaces of highly distinctive and memorable aural qualities.

Q. Before James Welty brought the project to completion, you created a series of drawings inspired by the city’s sounds. This is an interesting artistic process -- creatively drawing sound. Can you describe this process?

A. In the discipline of architecture, we normally celebrate the product – that is, what we make, the final building or interior. This project is much more focused on process. To achieve our sound animations, I listened deeply to the recordings, and that listening experience took me to a place where I wanted to make drawings out of the sounds. It’s not scientific but interpretive.  

Jim Welty also worked with the sounds to create a visual sound environment. He then choreographed my drawings into this new space to make an entirely new world of animated sounds. This process celebrates the layers of actions, events and moments that would otherwise go completely unnoticed.  And counter-intuitively, after making these animations, we remember the visual environments more readily.  

So it is a deeper way of knowing these particular frames of experience. These listening projects change my future perceptions of the space. Grand Central unfolds differently every time I go there now, and I am deeply grateful for the joy that gives to me.

How Fat Breakdown – Yes, Breakdown! – Contributes to Insulin Resistance

Mon, 2015-03-02 14:30

New research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine has shed light on how chronic stress and obesity may contribute to type 2 diabetes. The findings point the finger at an unexpected biological perpetrator – the breakdown of fat.

The body releases adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormone, to provide short-term energy to respond to stress – say, to help you avoid getting eaten by a hungry tiger or trampled by a frightened elephant. Adrenaline, and noradrenaline, prompt the body to break down fat to provide that energy.

But when the stress becomes chronic – when the body becomes convinced there’s always a tiger at the door – what was intended to be a short-term response becomes long-term. And the resulting breakdown of triglycerides, the U.Va. researchers found, plays a crucial role in inhibiting the body’s ability to use insulin correctly.

“This has a lot of implications for obesity and how obesity can, in turn, affect insulin signaling in cells – that is diabetes, ultimately,” said researcher Thurl E. Harris of the U.Va. Department of Pharmacology and U.Va.’s Center for Cell Signaling. “What my work was trying to understand is what sort of physiological conditions can inhibit insulin action in adipose tissue [fat], which is precisely what occurs during obesity-induced insulin resistance.”

The discovery answers questions that have plagued scientists for decades about how adrenaline causes insulin resistance. “It’s been known for probably 30 years if you infuse adrenaline into humans, you induce acute whole-body insulin resistance. The question has always been, ‘What are the mechanisms behind this adrenaline-induced insulin resistance?’” Harris said. “What we have found is the actual mechanism in adipocytes [fat cells] that may contribute to effects on the whole body, including the insulin-resistance that accompanies type 2 diabetes.”

The findings provide valuable insight into the causes of insulin resistance and may one day lead to new treatments for high blood sugar. “That’s where we’re headed with this: how obesity inhibits glucose homeostasis,” Harris said. “By inhibiting lipolysis [the breakdown of fat], maybe you can offset some of the aspects of obesity that are causing diabetes.”

The findings have been published online by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. The article’s authors are Garrett R. Mullins, Lifu Wang, Vidisha Raje, Samantha G. Sherwood, Rebecca C. Grande, Salome Boroda, James M. Eaton, Sara Blancquaert, Pierre P. Roger, Norbert Leitinger and Harris.