Feb 15, 2010

President Casteen Reflects on 20 years at the University of Virginia

Retiring University of Virginia (UVA) President John T. Casteen used the recent occasion of his final State of the University speech to take a look back at his 20-year tenure. “This is my 20th State of the University report, and also my last,” he remarked to an overflow crowd in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium.

Among the many changes since 1990, he noted:

• The size of the undergraduate program has grown by 16.4% or 1588 students—all from Virginia.
• The UVA student body has become more diverse from 17.8 percent minority to 25.5 percent and more female—from 50 percent to 56 percent.
• The international student population has increased from 3 percent to 7 percent of total.
• Faculty-led student study abroad programs multiplied from 10 to 50.
• There are at least ten new majors, three new minors, and four new concentrations.
• Even in the “digital age,” the book collection in the library has grown from 3.2 million to 5.1 million.
• The University has purchased, constructed or is currently constructing 134 buildings resulting in new facilities for teaching, research, the arts, athletics, student life, libraries, and health care.
• UVA Wise has added 13 new buildings.
• Global ties in international student enrollment and study abroad have increased dramatically.
• The curriculum has become much more interdisciplinary.
• Public service opportunities for faculty and students are rising.
• Campus-based technology now provides access to a wealth of information that was simply unimaginable 20 years ago.
• Email is no longer a “constant adventure” and today 99.9 percent of students arrive at UVA with a computer, the majority of which are laptops.
• The portion of state general funds allocated to higher education has dropped from 16.7 percent to just 10.7 percent.
• Tuition and fees now account for 16.9 percent of the University’s revenues and for the first time ever, in-state students pay a larger percent of their total tuition than the state.

Overall, President Casteen leaves the job with few regrets and takes great satisfaction in the legacy he leaves behind. “We have found that external observers—alumni, faculty members from other institutions, the parents of our students and former students—support and want to assist, want to give life to the University in the form of various contributions,” Casteen concludes. “…they and you have made these 20 years the high point of my own life and a time of constant pleasure and joy.”

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