Letter from VP-CODE (November 2017 Edition of Our Grounds: Dimensions of Diversity)

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:50 -- mes3xg


Dear Friends,

As we continue the celebration of UVA’s Bicentennial, we strive to address our past in a manner that tells a more inclusive story of the University’s founding. The President’s Commission on Slavery and the University partnered with the Slave Dwelling Project to host the symposium “Universities, Slavery, Public Memory & the Built Landscape” October 18th-21st, 2017. Our goal was to bring together members of the University, the community, and experts from other institutions to explore our historical relationship with slavery and set stage for future work.

We are pleased to report the symposium had a full registration list of 500 participants representing 61 colleges and universities, 21 states and the United Kingdom, and 17 museums and historic sites. Throughout the 4-day event, participants were given a number of opportunities to address topics including racial healing, restorative justice, public memory, descendant stories, and memorialization. These topics were addressed through 5 plenary sessions and 34 breakout sessions covering a range of topics, an overnight slave dwelling experience on The Lawn, an African American cemetery commemoration, and a full day of field trips to Montpelier, Monticello, and Highland.  Thank you to all who attended and helped make the symposium a success.

I am pleased to report that this fall, the University recorded a 5-year high related to the enrollment of minority, first-generation, and low-income students.  Since 2012, African American first-year enrollment has increased by 41.5%, first-year minority student enrollment has increased by 38, and enrollment of students with Pell Grant eligibility has increased by 34.3%.  For a deeper look at the data, please visit this link.

Shortly after the launch of the Bicentennial, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies received department status.  As a department, the Institute has more independence and can now make decisions about curriculum and hiring faculty without the oversight of other departments.  For more information about the Institute’s history and this exciting news, please visit this link.

I am also pleased to share that in September the former Jordan Hall was renamed Pinn Hall, dedicated in honor of Dr. Vivian Pinn.  Dr. Pinn was the only African American in her class at the School of Medicine.  She went on to become the first director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institute of Health.  UVA’s Board of Visitors also passed a resolution at its September 2017 meeting renaming the former Lewis House dormitory in the International Residential College after W.W Yen, the first international student to earn a UVA degree. Yen went on to become Premier of China.

These are exciting times at the University of Virginia, and I encourage you to check out the stories featured in this month’s newsletter.  I wish you a happy Thanksgiving and productive end of the semester.

Best Wishes,

Marcus L. Martin

Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity & Equity