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The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA), frequently referred to simply as Virginia, is a public-private flagship and research university. Founded in 1819 by Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson, UVA is known for its historic foundations, student-run honor code, and secret societies.
UNESCO designated UVA as America's first and only collegiate World Heritage Site in 1987, an honor shared with nearby Monticello. The university was established in 1819, and its original governing Board of Visitors included Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Monroe was the sitting President of the United States at the time of its foundation. Former Presidents Jefferson and Madison were UVA's first two rectors and the Academical Village and original courses of study were conceived and designed by Jefferson.
The university's research endeavors are highly recognized. In 2015, Science honored UVA faculty for discovering two of its top 10 annual scientific breakthroughs; from the fields of Medicine and Psychology. UVA is one of 62 institutions in the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of preeminent North American research universities. It is the only AAU member university located in Virginia. UVA is classified as a Research University with Very High Research by the Carnegie Foundation, and is considered Virginia's flagship university by the College Board. The university was the first non-founding member, and the first university of the American South, to attain AAU membership in 1904. Companies founded by UVA students and alumni, such as Reddit, generate more than $1.6 trillion in annual revenue – equivalent to an economy the size of Canada, 10th-largest in the world.
UVA's academic strength is broad, with 121 majors across the eight undergraduate and three professional schools. Students compete in 26 collegiate sports and UVA leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in men's NCAA team national championships with 17. UVA is second in women's NCAA titles with 7. UVA was awarded the Capital One Cup in 2015 after fielding the top overall men's athletics programs in the nation.
Students come to attend the university in Charlottesville from all 50 states and 147 countries. The historic campus occupies 1,682-acre (2.6 sq mi; 680.7 ha), many of which are internationally protected by UNESCO and widely recognized as some of the most beautiful collegiate grounds in the country. UVA additionally maintains 2,913 acres southeast of the city, at Morven Farm.The university also manages the College at Wise in Southwest Virginia, and until 1972 operated George Mason University and the University of Mary Washington in Northern Virginia.
Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
UVA’s time-honored mission is to create honorable, well-educated, and effective public leaders. At the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy you can dedicate yourself to this endless endeavor, developing the skills you will need to take on the world’s toughest public policy challenges.
Here you will be immersed in “the art of getting things done,” learning how to become a more effective leader and achieve tangible results. With five innovative policy research centers in the areas of education, health care, social entrepreneurship, leadership simulations and international policy, Batten will help you develop into a strong and ethical leader, ready to make a positive difference in the world.
College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
The University of Virginia was founded to break academic boundaries, unite leading experts in a variety of disciplines and foster their collaboration with students.
Today you can live this mission at the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the largest of the University’s schools. At the College you will learn to be mentally nimble, committed to critical thinking, and observant of the vital connections across disciplines. In short, you will be ready to play your part in furthering the illimitable freedom of the human mind.
Curry School of Education
The University of Virginia is dedicated to cultivating citizen leaders who will commit their talents to the greater good. Nowhere can you live this mission more fully than at the Curry School of Education.
Here you will explore the connection between education and human ecology, experience the latest approaches to transforming human learning, and adopt new models to driving change and improving the impact of education. You can sample some of our most recent advances in Bridges, our online magazine.
When you graduate from Curry you will join a select group of educational leaders bringing these ideas to life in communities around the world. Whether creating new teaching strategies, engaging with policymakers or enhancing health and wellness, you will be leading the charge toward better education.
Darden School of Business
At the Darden School of Business you will join a community focused on developing and inspiring responsible business leaders, advancing knowledge and improving the world. You will be part of a top graduate business school, with an active, collaborative environment, accessible and experienced teachers and a dynamic global network.
When you graduate from Darden you will join 15,000 alumni leading organizations to higher performance in 90 countries. Enriched by our research and thinking in areas such as business in society, ethics, entrepreneurship and innovation, you will be ready to lead today and for decades to come.
McIntire School of Commerce
At the McIntire School of Commerce you will benefit from nine decades of unwavering excellence in education and research. You will be part of one of the nation’s finest business schools, currently ranked #2 by BusinessWeek. And you will have access to a deeply experienced faculty committed to teaching and mentoring thoughtful, ethical business leaders.
Our coursework will help you meet the demands of today’s dynamic and competitive global marketplace. Our integrative approach combines business education with disciplines like the sciences and humanities, helping you develop into a more complete leader and thinker. With a foundation like that, you will be prepared to pursue your most ambitious endeavors with confidence.
School of Architecture
Perhaps the only University founded by an architect, the University of Virginia was intentionally designed to create a new model for education. Today, design thinking remains at the heart of the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. Through four distinguished programs in architecture, architectural history, landscape architecture and urban and environmental planning, the School of Architecture is applying leading principles of design to the real challenges facing communities in our nation and around the world. Today, our distinguished faculty and students focus not on style but on spaces that foster a rich community life and that promote an ethic of sustainability that views the processes of nature, the expression of beauty and the realm of human interactions as an inseparable whole.
School of Continuing and Professional Studies
UVA was founded on the principle that learning should last a lifetime. You can apply this philosophy to your own life at our School of Continuing & Professional Studies.
Here you can pursue your educational and professional goals online and in person. With access to 148 faculty members and more than 500 courses, you can enhance your data literacy, improve your technical competence, and cultivate your creative agility. As an adult learner you will experience a unique blend of scholarship, analytical thinking and workplace relevance, all on a convenient and flexible basis.
School of Engineering and Applied Science
As the third oldest engineering school in a public university in the United States, UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science offers a strong, dynamic research program in the midst of one of the best comprehensive universities in the world. With a distinguished faculty and a student body of 2,600 undergraduates and more than 600 graduate students, the School of Engineering offers an array of engineering disciplines, including cutting-edge research programs in computer and information science and engineering, bioengineering and nanotechnology, and energy and the environment. The School of Engineering actively partners with several of UVA’s Schools, as well as leading organizations and agencies, to develop engineering-based solutions to some of the most important global and societal challenges of our time. The School of Engineering also partners with other UVA schools to promote student involvement in high-profile research projects and entrepreneurial ventures.
School of Law
Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.
Virginia is justly famous for its collegial environment that bonds students and faculty. At Virginia, law students share their experiences in a cooperative spirit, both in and out of the classroom, and build a network that lasts well beyond their three years here.
School of Medicine
Medicine was one of the original disciplines of study when the University opened its doors to students in 1825. Today, the School of Medicine trains the next generation of physicians, conducts important translational research and provides nationally-recognized medical care to patients in the UVA Medical Center and other facilities within the Health System. Boasting nearly 200 leading physicians in multiple specialties, the School of Medicine offers degrees in health sciences as well as medical education and training to 765 residents and fellows through 72 ACGME-accredited specialties.
School of Nursing
Founded in 1901 and ranked among the top three percent of graduate nursing schools in the country, UVA's School of Nursing prepares nurses, nursing researchers and academics for leadership during a time of dramatic change in healthcare. Working in partnership with other UVA Schools and programs, including Darden, the Contemplative Sciences Center and the School of Architecture, the School of Nursing—beloved for its intimacy, warmth and students’ access to faculty—offers a curriculum centered on resilience, interprofessional learning, exposure to research strategy and design and mentoring from creative, compassionate practitioners and scholars.
History of UVA
In 1802, while serving as President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson wrote to artist Charles Willson Peale that his concept of the new university would be "on the most extensive and liberal scale that our circumstances would call for and our faculties meet," and that it might even attract talented students from "other states to come, and drink of the cup of knowledge". Virginia was already home to the College of William and Mary, but Jefferson lost all confidence in his alma mater, partly because of its religious nature – it required all its students to recite a catechism – and its stifling of the sciences. Jefferson had flourished under William and Mary professors William Small and George Wythe decades earlier, but the college was in a period of great decline and his concern became so dire by 1800 that he expressed to British chemist Joseph Priestley, "we have in that State, a college just well enough endowed to draw out the miserable existence to which a miserable constitution has doomed it." These words would ring true some seventy years later when William and Mary fell bankrupt after the Civil War and the Williamsburg college was shuttered completely in 1881, later being revived only in a limited capacity as a very small college for teachers until well into the twentieth century.
In 1817, three Presidents (Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison) and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Marshall joined 24 other dignitaries at a meeting held in the Mountain Top Tavern at Rockfish Gap. After some deliberation, they selected nearby Charlottesville as the site of the new University of Virginia. Farmland just outside Charlottesville was purchased from James Monroe by the Board of Visitors as Central College. The school laid its first building's cornerstone late in that same year, and the Commonwealth of Virginia chartered the new university on January 25, 1819. John Hartwell Cocke collaborated with James Madison, Monroe, and Joseph Carrington Cabell to fulfill Jefferson's dream to establish the university. Cocke and Jefferson were appointed to the building committee to supervise the construction. The university's first classes met on March 7, 1825.
In contrast to other universities of the day, at which one could study in either medicine, law, or divinity, the first students at the University of Virginia could study in one or several of eight independent schools – medicine, law, mathematics, chemistry, ancient languages, modern languages, natural philosophy, and moral philosophy. Another innovation of the new university was that higher education would be separated from religious doctrine. UVA had no divinity school, was established independently of any religious sect, and the Grounds were planned and centered upon a library, the Rotunda, rather than a church, distinguishing it from peer universities still primarily functioning as seminaries for one particular strain of Protestantism or another. Jefferson opined to philosopher Thomas Cooper that "a professorship of theology should have no place in our institution", and never has there been one. There were initially two degrees awarded by the university: Graduate, to a student who had completed the courses of one school; and Doctor to a graduate in more than one school who had shown research prowess.
Jefferson was intimately involved in the university to the end, hosting Sunday dinners at his Monticello home for faculty and students until his death. So taken with the import of what he viewed the university's foundations and potential to be, and counting it amongst his greatest accomplishments, Jefferson insisted his grave mention only his status as author of the Declaration of Independence and Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia. Thus, he eschewed mention of his national accomplishments, such as the Louisiana Purchase, in favor of his role with the young university.
In the year of Jefferson's death, poet Edgar Allan Poe enrolled at the university, where he excelled in Latin. The Raven Society, an organization named after Poe's most famous poem, continues to maintain 13 West Range, the room Poe inhabited during the single semester he attended the university. He left because of financial difficulties. The School of Engineering and Applied Science opened in 1836, making UVA the first comprehensive university to open an engineering school.
Unlike the vast majority of peer colleges in the South, the university was kept open throughout the Civil War, an especially remarkable feat with its state seeing more bloodshed than any other and the near 100% conscription of the entire American South. After Jubal Early's total loss at the Battle of Waynesboro, Charlottesville was willingly surrendered to Union forces to avoid mass bloodshed and UVA faculty convinced George Armstrong Custer to preserve Jefferson's university. Though Union troops camped on the Lawn and damaged many of the Pavilions, Custer's men left four days later without bloodshed and the university was able to return to its educational mission. However, an extremely high number of officers of both Confederacy and Union were alumni. UVA produced 1,481 officers in the Confederate Armyalone, including four major-generals, twenty-one brigadier-generals, and sixty-seven colonels from ten different states. John S. Mosby, the infamous "Gray Ghost" and commander of the lightning-fast 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry ranger unit, had also been a UVA student.
Thanks to a grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia, tuition became free for all Virginians in 1875. During this period the University of Virginia remained unique in that it had no president and mandated no core curriculum from its students, who often studied in and took degrees from more than one school. However, the university was also experiencing growing pains. As the original Rotunda caught fire and burned to the ground in 1895, there would soon be sweeping change afoot.
Jefferson had originally decided that the University of Virginia would have no president. Rather, this power was to be shared by a rector and a Board of Visitors. But as the 19th century waned, it became obvious this cumbersome arrangement was incapable of adequately handling the many administrative and fundraising tasks of the growing university. Edwin Alderman, who had only recently moved from his post as president of UNC-Chapel Hill since 1896 to become president of Tulane University in 1900, accepted an offer as president of the University of Virginia in 1904. His appointment was not without controversy, and national media such as Popular Science lamented the end of one of the things that made UVA unique among universities.
Alderman would stay 27 years, and became known as a prolific fund-raiser, a well-known orator, and a close adviser to U.S. President and UVA alumnus Woodrow Wilson. He added significantly to the University Hospital to support new sickbeds and public health research, and helped create departments of geology and forestry, the Curry School of Education, the McIntire School of Commerce, and the summer school programs at which a young Georgia O'Keeffe would soon take art. Perhaps his greatest ambition was the funding and construction of a library on a scale of millions of books, much larger than the Rotunda could bear. Delayed by the Great Depression, Alderman Library was named in his honor in 1938. Alderman, who seven years earlier had died in office en route to giving a public speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, is still the longest-tenured president of the university.
In 1904, the University of Virginia became the first university in the American South to be elected to the prestigious Association of American Universities. After a gift by Andrew Carnegie in 1909 the University of Virginia was organized into twenty-six departments including the Andrew Carnegie School of Engineering, the James Madison School of Law, the James Monroe School of International Law, the James WilsonSchool of Political Economy, the Edgar Allan Poe School of English and the Walter Reed School of Pathology. The honorific historical names for these departments are no longer used.
The university first admitted a few selected women to graduate studies in the late 1890s and to certain programs such as nursing and education in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1944, Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, became the Women's Undergraduate Arts and Sciences Division of the University of Virginia. With this branch campus in Fredericksburg exclusively for women, UVA maintained its main campus in Charlottesville as near-exclusively for men, until a civil rights lawsuit of the 1960s forced it to commingle the sexes. In 1970, the Charlottesville campus became fully co-educational, and in 1972 Mary Washington became an independent state university. When the first female class arrived, 450 undergraduate women entered UVA, comprising 39 percent of undergraduates, while the number of men admitted remained constant. By 1999, women made up a 52 percent majority of the total student body.
The University of Virginia began the process of integration even before the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision mandated school desegregation for all grade levels, when Gregory Swanson sued to gain entrance into the university's law school in 1950. Following his successful lawsuit, a handful of black graduate and professional students were admitted during the 1950s, though no black undergraduates were admitted until 1955, and UVA did not fully integrate until the 1960s.
In December 1953, the University of Virginia joined the Atlantic Coast Conference for athletics. At the time, UVA had a football program that had just broken through to be nationally ranked in 1950, 1951, and 1952, and consistently beat its rivals North Carolina and Virginia Tech by such scores as 34–7 and 44–0. Other sports were very competitive as well. However, the administration of Colgate Darden de-emphasized athletics, barely allowing the school to join the nascent ACC. It would take until the 1980s for the bulk of programs to fully recover, but approaching the 2000s UVA was again one of the most successful all-around sports programs with NCAA national titles achieved in an array of different sports.
UVA established a junior college in 1954, then called Clinch Valley College. Today it is a four-year public liberal arts college called the University of Virginia's College at Wise and currently enrolls 2,000 students. George Mason University and the aforementioned Mary Washington University used to exist as similar satellite campuses, but those are now wholly self-administered.
Due to a continual decline in state funding for the university, today only 6 percent of its budget comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia. A Charter initiative was signed into law by then-Governor Mark Warner in 2005, negotiated with the university to have greater autonomy over its own affairs in exchange for accepting this decline in financial support.
The university welcomed Teresa A. Sullivan as its first female president in 2010. Just two years later its first woman rector, Helen Dragas, engineered a forced-resignation to remove President Sullivan from office. The attempted ouster elicited a faculty Senate vote of no confidence in Rector Dragas, and demands from student government for an explanation. In the face of mounting pressure including alumni threats to cease contributions, and a mandate from then-Governor Robert McDonnell to resolve the issue or face removal of the entire Board of Visitors, the Board unanimously reinstated President Sullivan. In 2013 and 2014, the Board passed new bylaws that made it harder to remove a president and possible to remove a rector.
In November 2014, the university suspended fraternity and sorority functions pending investigation of an article by Rolling Stoneconcerning an alleged rape story, later determined to be a "hoax" after the story was confirmed to be false through investigation by The Washington Post. The university nonetheless instituted new rules banning "pre-mixed drinks, punches or any other common source of alcohol" such as beer kegs and requiring "sober and lucid" fraternity members to monitor parties. In April 2015, Rolling Stone fully retracted the article after the Columbia School of Journalism released a report of what went wrong with the article in a scathing and discrediting report. Even before release of the Columbia University report, the Rolling Stone story was named "Error of the Year" by the Poynter Institute.
UVA experienced significant triumphs of both academia and athletics in 2015 as Science found its faculty to have discovered two of the world's top ten scientific breakthroughs that year, and the athletics department was awarded the Capital One Cup for fielding the nation's top overall men's sports program. In the same year, Charlottesville (largely because of UVA founders and funders) was named the No. 1 fastest growing U.S. metropolitan area for venture capital, and UVA won the 2015 Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization on the basis of its global citizen initiatives.
Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Year of first Accreditation - 1904
- U.S. News & World Report ranks UVA 24th overall and 2nd among public universities in its 2017 report.
- Among the professional schools of UVA, U.S. News & World Report's 2016 rankings place its law school tied for 8th overall and tied for 1st among public universities, its graduate Darden School of Business 11th overall and 2nd among public universities, its medical school tied for 25th overall and tied for 17th among public universities in the "Primary Care" category and 28th overall and 10th among public universities in the "Research" category, and its engineering school 39th overall and 21st among public universities.
- In its 2015 rankings, The Economist lists Darden 2nd overall internationally and 1st among public institutions.
- In its 2016 listing, Bloomberg BusinessWeekranks the McIntire School of Commerce, UVA's undergraduate business program, 5th overall and 2nd among public universities.
- Washington Monthly ranked UVA 54th in its 2016 ranking of National Universities.
- The Daily Caller ranks UVA 1st overall, and states it "blows away the competition" for the second consecutive year as of 2015, when additional factors such as cost, professor ratings, and "student hotness" are added to the more traditional methodology.
- In its 2016 report, Business Insider, which strives to measure preparation for the professional workforce, ranks UVA 9th overall and 1st among public universities.
Student life @UVA
Student life at the University of Virginia is marked by a number of unique traditions. The campus of the university is referred to as the "Grounds." Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are instead called first-, second-, third-, and fourth-years in order to reflect Jefferson's belief that learning is a lifelong process, rather than one to be completed within four years.
Student-faculty interaction and connections
Professors are traditionally addressed as "Mr." or "Ms." at UVA instead of "Doctor" (although medical doctors are the exception) in deference to Jefferson's desire to have an equality of ideas, discriminated by merit and unburdened by title. UVA facilitates close interactions between students and professors in a number of ways.
First-year students have the opportunity to take two University Seminars, one per semester, which are later made available to other students as well. These small classes, numbering from 4 to 19 students each, provide opportunities to work closely with professors at the university from the outset of a student's academic career. The small groupings also help facilitate more frequent and intense discussions between students in this closer environment.
Select faculty live at Brown College at Monroe Hill, Hereford College, International Residential College, and in Pavilions on The Lawn. This gives more opportunities for professors to invite students to lunches and dinners, which regularly happens, and creates chances for impromptu meetings and interactions between faculty and students around Grounds.
So committed to close student-faculty interaction is UVA that it once welcomed Nobel Laureate William Faulkner to a position as "Writer-in-Residence" from February–June 1957 and again in 1958. He had no teaching responsibilities, and was paid merely to live among the students and write. He was badly injured in a horse riding accident in 1959, and did not return to the state before his death in 1962.
Global citizenship initiatives
UVA has several programs in place to make each of its students a citizen of the globe, not just of the United States.
The International Residential College is a residential college at UVA that attracts and celebrates students from across the globe who choose to attend the university. It is one of three major residential colleges at UVA. Students there come from 45 different countries, representing 40% of the student population; but U.S. students are encouraged to live at IRC as well to learn about the countries from which their classmates have journeyed to attend UVA.
UVA has been the academic sponsor for Semester at Sea since 2006. Throughout the history of the program since 1963, nearly 55,000 undergraduate students from more than 1,500 colleges and universities have participated in Semester at Sea. During the spring and fall semesters, the approximately 100-day program circumnavigates the globe, with up to 720 undergraduatestraveling from North America heading either east across the Atlantic or west across the Pacific, visiting from 8 to 11 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America, before ending the voyage in another North American port. The program previously had voyages that would sail through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, but due to piracy concerns in the Gulf of Aden, voyages now typically travel around Africa. Past lecturers and guests of Semester at Sea include Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Teresa.
UVA received the 2015 Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization, by the Association of International Educators.This award confirms the university's success and commitment in educating its students on a global scale as well as nationally.
Student leadership opportunities
There are a number of UVA undergraduate leadership opportunities that are offered in addition to the standard student government or fraternity and sororiety positions found at many universities. They include UVA's secret societies and debating societies, the student-run honor committees, and the chance to be recognized as a fourth-year student at the pinnacle of student leadership by being asked to live on The Lawn.
The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, established in 2007, expands on these unique student leadership opportunities to study Leadership itself as a cross-disciplinary subject of focus and is closely aligned with many of the university's schools, including the Architecture, Education, Engineering, Law, Medical, and Darden schools, as well as with programs in politics, economics, and applied ethics.
Secret societies and debating societies
A number of secret societies at the university, most notably the Seven Society, Z Society, and IMP Society, have operated for decades or centuries, leaving their painted marks on university buildings. Other significant secret societies include Eli Banana, T.I.L.K.A., the Purple Shadows (who commemorate Jefferson's birthday shortly after dawn on the Lawn each April 13), The Sons of Liberty, and the 21 Society. Not all the secret societies keep their membership unknown, but even those who don't hide their identities generally keep most of their good works and activities far from the public eye.
Student societies have existed on grounds since the early 19th Century. The Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, founded in 1825, is the second oldest Greek-Lettered organization in the nation (the oldest being the Phi Beta Kappa honor fraternity). It continues to meet every Friday at 7:29 PM in Jefferson Hall. The Washington Literary Society and Debating Union also meets every week, and the two organizations often engage in a friendly rivalry. In the days before social fraternities existed and intercollegiate athletics became popular, these societies were often the focal point of social activity on grounds.
The nation's first codified honor system was instituted by UVA law professor Henry St. George Tucker, Sr. in 1842, after a fellow professor was shot to death on The Lawn. There are three tenets to the system: students simply must not lie, cheat, or steal. It is a "single sanction system," meaning that committing any of these three offenses will result in expulsion from the university. If accused, students are tried before their peers – fellow students, never faculty, serve as counsel and jury.
The honor system is intended to be student-run and student-administered. Although Honor Committee resources have been strained by mass cheating scandals such as a case in 2001 of 122 suspected cheaters over several years in a single large Physics survey course, and federal lawsuits have challenged the system, its verdicts are rarely overturned. There is only one documented case of direct UVA administration interference in an honor system proceeding: the trial and subsequent retrial of Christopher Leggett.
Many events take place at the University of Virginia, on the Lawn and across grounds. One of the largest events at UVA is Springfest, hosted by the University Programs Council. It takes place every year in the spring, and features a large free concert, various inflatables and games. Another popular event is Foxfield, a steeplechase and social gathering that takes place nearby in Albemarle County in April, and which is annually attended by thousands of students from the University of Virginia and neighboring colleges.
The student life building is called Newcomb Hall. It is home to the Student Activities Center (SAC) and the Media Activities Center (MAC), where student groups can get leadership consulting and use computing and copying resources, as well as several meeting rooms for student groups. Student Council, the student self-governing body, holds meetings Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in the Newcomb South Meeting Room. Student Council, or "StudCo", also holds office hours and regular committee meetings in the newly renovated Newcomb Programs and Council (PAC) Room. The PAC also houses the University Programs Council and Class Councils. Newcomb basement is home to both the office of the independent student newspaper The Declaration, The Cavalier Daily, and the Consortium of University Publications.
In 2005, the university was named "Hottest for Fitness" by Newsweek magazine, due in part to 94% of its students using one of the four indoor athletics facilities. Particularly popular is the Aquatics and Fitness Center, situated across the street from the Alderman Dorms. The University of Virginia sent more workers to the Peace Corps in 2006 and 2008 than any other "medium-sized" university in the United States. Volunteerism at the university is centered around Madison House which offers numerous opportunities to serve others. Among the numerous programs offered are tutoring, housing improvement, an organization called Hoos Against Hunger, which gives leftover food from restaurants to the homeless of Charlottesville rather than allowing it to be discarded, among numerous other volunteer programs.
As at many universities, alcohol use is a part of the social life of many undergraduate students. Concerns particularly arose about a past trend of fourth-years consuming excessive alcohol during the day of the last home football game. President Casteen announced a $2.5 million donation from Anheuser-Busch to fund a new UVA-based Social Norms Institute in September 2006. A spokesman said: "the goal is to get students to emulate the positive behavior of the vast majority of students". On the other hand, the university was ranked first in Playboy's 2012 list of Top 10 Party Schools based on ratings of sex, sports, and nightlife.
The University of Virginia has a number of Greek organizations on campus, encompassing the traditional social fraternities and sororities as well as coeducational professional, service, and honor fraternities. Social life at the university was originally dominated by debating societies. The first fraternity chapter founded at UVA was Delta Kappa Epsilon in 1852, and it was quickly followed by many more; the University of Virginia was the birthplace of two national fraternities, Kappa Sigma and Pi Kappa Alpha, which exist at the university to this day. Through the twentieth century, the Greek system at UVA evolved to encompass social sororities, professional fraternities and sororities, service fraternities, honor societies, black fraternities and sororities, and multicultural fraternities and sororities. Roughly 30% of the student body are members of social Greek organizations, with additional students involved with service, professional, and honor fraternities. Rush and pledging occur in the spring semester for most organizations. Three social fraternities hold reserved rooms on the Lawn.
Charlottesville Union Station is located just 0.6 miles (0.97 km) from the University of Virginia, and energy efficient Amtrak passenger trains serve Charlottesville on three routes: the Cardinal (Chicago to New York City), Crescent (New Orleans to New York City), and Northeast Regional (Virginia to Boston). The long-haul Cardinal operates three times a week, while the Crescent and Northeast Regional both run daily. Charlottesville–Albemarle Airport, 8 miles (13 km) away, has nonstop flights to Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Philadelphia. The larger Richmond International Airport is 77 miles (124 km) to the southeast, and the still larger Dulles International Airport is 99 miles (159 km) to the northeast. The Starlight Express offers direct express bus service from Charlottesville to New York City, and I-64 and U.S. 29, both major highways, are frequently trafficked.
The Cavaliers lead the 15-team Atlantic Coast Conference in NCAA championships for men's sports with 17, and are second in women's sports with 7. They have been the Cavaliers since 1923, predating the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers by five decades, and have competed in the ACC since 1953. The Athletic Director is Craig Littlepage, the first African American to hold that position anywhere in the ACC when hired in August 2001. Since then, UVA has added many significant hires who have demonstrated success near the top of their respective sports, including Tony Bennett, Brian O'Connor, Bronco Mendenhall, Augie Busch, and Brian Boland, who led UVA men's tennis to an undefeated run of 140–0 in ACC matches spanning more than an entire decade (2006–2016), unprecedented in any sport. Among coaches who have longer tenures, George Gelnovatch has won two NCAA men's soccer national titles since 2009. Steve Swanson has led women's soccer teams to six ACC titles and 24 consecutive winning seasons. Kevin Sauer has led UVA women's rowing to two NCAA titles since 2010 and nine consecutive Top 6 national finishes as of 2015.
UVA has ranked near the top of NCAA collegiate programs in recent years. In 2015, Virginia won the Capital One Cup for the best overall program in men's sports after its teams won the 2014 College Cup, the 2015 College World Series, and the 2015 NCAA Tennis Championships. UVA ranks similarly high nationally in the yearly NACDA Directors' Cupcombined men's and women's standings: taking third place nationally in 2009–10, and finishing fourth in 2013–14.
The Cavaliers often, but not always, finish first among ACC programs in each of these all-sports measures.
In the 21st century alone, UVA has won twelve NCAA team national championships. The men's teams have won recent NCAA titles in baseball (2015); soccer (2014 and 2009); lacrosse (2011, 2006, and 2003); and tennis (2016, 2015, and 2013). UVA women have won recent NCAA titles in lacrosse (2004) and rowing (2012 and 2010).
The ACC is particularly known for college basketball, often being called the nation's best basketball conference. Under Tony Bennett the Cavaliers have experienced a renaissance, winning back-to-back ACC regular season titles in 2014 and 2015, and dispatching Duke for the 2014 ACC Tournament Championship. UVA has become just the third ACC program, after Duke and UNC, to win 30 games in two consecutive seasons.
The baseball team under Brian O'Connor has also experienced tremendous success. UVA finished as national Runners Up in the 2014 College World Series and came back to win the 2015 College World Series. His teams have made the NCAA Tournament in all twelve of his years coaching at Virginia as of 2015.