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A&S Magazine Fall 2019

Honor the Future


Honor the Future


The answers to this animating question shape the vision for the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and its campaign priorities for the 21st Century.

Dean Ian Baucom articulates the philanthropic goals for Arts & Sciences in support of the University’s Honor the Future Campaign

The University of Virginia was established on the belief that an educated citizenry is vital to the success of democracy. With UVA embarking on its third century, I asked the faculty and the broader College community, “what do democracies need from their universities — now and in the future?” The answers were clear:

  • Prepare the next generation, drawing from diverse backgrounds and means, to flourish and lead in a rapidly changing world
  • Invest in the best scholarship to support and compete for premier faculty and graduate students
  • Commit the College to lead at the forefront of enduring and emerging knowledge fields — those most vital for our times


These answers inform a vision for Arts & Sciences which is bold and powerful — to help advance a new American enlightenment. 
The University’s founding 200 years ago and our history uniquely link UVA and the College to the fate of the American republic and to advancing the great unfinished business of democracy. We are thinking and acting at a Jeffersonian scale of ambition for the flourishing of our students, the nation, and the world.


To realize our vision, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will raise $750 million in philanthropic support during the University’s Honor the Future Campaign. Our efforts are organized by six academic priorities:


  • Curricular Innovation
  • Graduate Education
  • Democracy Initiative
  • Environment Initiative
  • Brain Initiative
  • Arts Initiative

These priorities are framed around two things — people and the power of knowledge. 

Let me start with the first of those: people. Fundamentally, we are focusing on our students and the education we provide them. At the core of this is the New College Curriculum pilot the College launched for undergraduate students. Further, it is imperative for us to invest in graduate students and in the Graduate School to attract and retain the best students and faculty. This is critical to advancing UVA’s teaching and research mission.

Then there is the second part of our Campaign in response to what our democracy needs from us. In addition to talented people — the next generation of citizen leaders — the world needs the power of knowledge to address the urgent problems of the 21st century. We are aggressively positioning ourselves for leadership in democracy, environment, and brain science in order to move from prominence to preeminence in these fields. We are also developing an Arts Initiative to boost our core academic programs in the arts and to implement new ones. 

The excellence we seek must come with a purpose, with a deep meaning and a strong sense of immediacy attached to our work. We must continue to challenge assumptions and create value for our students as well as the broader communities we serve. 

As we enter our third century, the need for UVA to be the leading force in American public education has never been more pressing. 

To accomplish these goals, we need philanthropy to lift us up. Together, we can build on UVA and the College’s legacy and become the living embodiment of democracy in action. 

I invite you to learn about our aspirations for the Honor the Future Campaign and to consider how you can make the greatest impact with your support.


To create the first major revision to the College’s general education program in more than 40 years, an exceptional cohort of College Fellows was recruit-ed from our faculty to design a new standard for a 21st-century undergraduate liberal arts curriculum.

Core Principles

  • Equipping students for their lives as active, engaged citizens — enabling them to participate at all levels of democracy and in all realms of life.
  • Preparing students for jobs and careers — vocations that offer dignity, purpose, and meaning.
  • Opening students to the lifelong delights of curiosity, exploration, and discovery.
  • Engaging students with vitally important habits of mind — from wrestling with ethical questions, to fully appreciating the arts and aesthetics, to understanding empirical truths as scientists do, to engaging differences constructively in a world of people with different views, histories, and backgrounds.

In the fall of 2017, the College Fellows launched the Engagements courses, created to introduce students to these habits of mind. In addition, the new curriculum features two other components, the Literacies and the Disciplines. 

For the Literacies, students must satisfy a robust writing requirement, achieve proficiency in a second language, and attain the quantitative and computational fluency essential to navigating an ever more data-driven world. In fact, the College is “doubling down” on writing. Students will not be able to test out of writing requirements. Instead, we will meet our talented students at their level and make them better.

In the Disciplines, students will explore varied ways to approach knowledge, learning, and discovery by taking courses across six different academic fields. 

The new curriculum, fully adopted via the historic A&S faculty vote on October 19, 2019, underlines the relevance of a liberal arts education. While developing the agile minds demanded by today’s competitive environment, it differentiates and distinguishes the College from other institutions.

To achieve its objectives, the New College Curriculum will need investments in the following:

  • 40 endowed College Fellows
  • Endowed Director of the College Fellows
  • Endowed Course Designation Innovation Fund
  • Enrichment programs


Graduate students and the Graduate School are at the core of everything in Arts & Sciences.

Attracting the brightest graduate students helps the University draw the most talented faculty. This, in turn, affects the quality of undergraduate education and the University’s ability to address the grand challenges of our time through research. 

Nothing has the ability to lift UVA’s academic reputation like enhancing the Graduate School and the academic quality of its Ph.D. programs, which drive college and university department rankings. 

Currently, even after significant investments from Arts & Sciences and the University’s Strategic Investment Fund, our graduate fellowship stipends are on average about 20% lower than those offered by our peer institutions. Unless this gap is addressed for the long-term, we will be challenged to recruit the best graduate students and, consequently, the best professors.

To achieve its objectives, the Graduate Education Initiative will need $150  million in investments, primarily on a series of endowed fellowships which will transform the Graduate School at UVA, establishing a future-focused model of what graduate education can be at an elite public research university in the 21st century. Examples include:

  • 100 Grand Challenge Fellowships
  • Dean’s Doctoral Fellowships
  • PhD Plus Fellowships
  • Department-specific fellowships


No idea could be more closely linked to the founding purpose of the University of Virginia than the flourishing of democracy.

UVA has the opportunity to rededicate itself to the noble ideas of democracy through a cross-Grounds and world-leading Democracy Initiative.

The Initiative aspires to excellence in integrated research, teaching, and public engagement on democracy at a global scale —bringing together a diverse range of scholars, government leaders, and practitioners to study and advance the prospects of democracy around the world.

Led by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, in partnership with the nonpartisan Miller Center of Public Affairs and in collaboration with colleagues from across the University, the Democracy Initiative was established in 2018. It is designed to engage a wide audience — from undergraduates to world leaders — in examining the challenges confronting democracies today.

We are in the process of creating a constellation of research Democracy Labs, each dedicated to a specific issue or element of democracy. Through these labs, we will explore key themes of democracy including governing institutions, the role of citizenship, civil discourse, work and economic opportunity, and the rule of law.

Dedicated space in the new Bond House on Grounds will be the home of research, teaching, and public engagement arising from the Democracy Labs, and we are already drawing intellectual resources from across Grounds and interest from around the world.

To achieve its objectives, the Democracy Initiative will need more than $117.25 million in investments to attract, fund, and inspire a broad range of students, faculty, and experts to focus on democracy, including:

  • Endowed graduate fellowships
  • Endowed professorships
  • Endowed directorships
  • Endowed scholarships


There has never been a more urgent time to address global environmental change, and the actions we take can create a more  resilient and sustainable future.

The pace and dimensions of environmental change are now greater than at any other time in human history. This places people and ecosystems at risk worldwide, and it affects public health and economic prosperity. 

Combining the deep knowledge of Arts & Sciences faculty with the coordinating expertise of the newly formed pan-University Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI), the Environment Initiative will fund work in the College to expand understanding of how the changing global environment is affecting societies by integrating knowledge about the natural world, technology and infrastructure, human behavior, and institutions.  Water, one of the 21st century’s most complex global challenges, has emerged as a deep and growing area of expertise for UVA. Our researchers are studying waterways ranging from rivers and lakes to our coastal waters and oceans. Devastating drought and catastrophic flooding, vanishing aquifers, polluted waterways and waterborne disease, warming oceans and rising sea levels — each of these challenges are interconnected.

To achieve its objectives, the Environment Initiative will need approximately $21 million in investments, including:

  • Endowed professorships
  • Endowed post-doctoral fellowships
  • Endowed graduate fellowships
  • Discovery Professorships
  • Research seed funding and equipment


The brain is the most complex organ in the human body, and now it is the subject of study for UVA’s newest multidisciplinary, pan-University undertaking: The UVA Brain Institute.

The center of gravity for this tremendous research effort resides in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. UVA can achieve national leadership in neuroscience research by linking the faculty of the biology and psychology departments in Arts & Sciences together with their colleagues in medicine and engineering.

Exploring traumatic brain injury, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and muscular dystrophy, and childhood development issues including autism and anxiety disorders, we will address the human lifespan at every stage of development. Our researchers will develop interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects that will compete for national grants; help recruit top-flight researchers centered around the study of the brain and the diseases and injuries affecting the organ; educate and train undergraduate, graduate, medical students, and postdoctoral fellows; and encourage philanthropy from potential donors with an interest in improving brain health and treatment. 

To achieve our objectives, the Brain Initiative will need more than $72 million in investments including:

  • Endowed undergraduate summer internships
  • Endowed professorship
  • Endowed postdoctoral fellowships
  • Endowed graduate fellowships
  • Discovery Professorships
  • Endowed undergraduate summer internships
  • Research seed funding and equipment
  • New classrooms and research labs in Gilmer Hall and the Chemistry Building


A spirit of experimentation animates the arts in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, integrating research, teaching, and creative practice. As a community of scholars, artists, and students, we are striving to shape a pluralistic world of creativity and imagination.

To help advance this vision for the arts, the College recently commissioned a robust study of its arts programs and facilities in an effort to create an organizational roadmap for both core and new programs. 
This foundational work is ongoing. At the conclusion of this exercise, we anticipate that a set of specific objectives will form an Arts Initiative to join our other Honor the Future Campaign priorities.


A message of thanks and encouragement from Dean Baucom

We have partnered with many of you to launch our Honor the Future efforts from a position of strength, and we are building momentum.

Together, we have raised more than $400 million toward our $750 million goal.

This has been a great team effort, and I am profoundly grateful for the generosity and commitment of everyone who has contributed thus far.

  • The New College Curriculum pilot was launched in the fall of 2017, and three cohorts of more than 500 students each have taken the newly designed Engagements courses. On October 19, 2019, the faculty voted to make the new curriculum mandatory for students entering in the fall of 2020.
  • Graduate Education became an urgent priority of our campaign for which we will seek 100 Grand Challenge Fellowships. These include the Dean’s Doctoral Fellowships, designed to recruit talented, underrepresented graduate students to UVA. 
  • The Democracy Initiative was launched by setting up its first four Democracy Labs and appointing co-director Melody Barnes. The College also co-hosted the Presidential Ideas Festival with the Miller Center — discussing the U.S. presidency with leading scholars and policy experts. 
  • The Environment Initiative was launched in tandem with the University’s newly formed Environmental Resilience Institute, and the College has hired world-class faculty in environmental sciences — including renowned teachers and researchers Scott Doney and Larry Band — who propel our ability to study oceanography and natural and urban watersheds.
  • The Brain Initiative was launched in tandem with the University’s newly formed Brain Institute. This initiative seeks to advance our capacity for research in neuroscience by attracting all-star faculty like JC Cang.

With your help, these initiatives will grow over the life of the campaign, and we will add new ones — ever striving for excellence with a purpose.

Embedded across our campaign priorities is the College’s commitment to professorships and scholarships. 

Realizing the importance of recruiting and retaining ex-ceptional faculty, the Board of Visitors committed $75 million in matching funds to encourage gifts that establish endowed professorships. In addition it committed $200 million in matching funds to encourage gifts that establish need-based scholarships to ensure that we can always attract the most talented students, regardless of need.

Your engagement in these areas is another way to bolster our campaign priorities and will not only fortify UVA’s com-mitment to educating the next generation of global leaders, but solidify the institution’s role as America’s public university. 

What happens here simply has a meaning and a signifi-cance that no other university can match, and we have to suc-ceed. This University, this College — the link to our founding and the bedrock of our future — is too important not to. 

With your continuing engagement and support, I know we are going to excel beyond imagination. 

 Invest in People and the Power of Knowledge

Strengthen Arts & Sciences today in support of UVA’s Honor the Future Campaign