A Timeless University trains Teachers for a New Era
by Karen Theroux
I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man.
Thomas Jefferson certainly had a way with words, and with philosophy…not to mention architecture. The construction of the academy he designed, which would later become the University of Virginia, was three years underway when Jefferson expressed these sentiments on education. Because he was the designer not only of its classically inspired buildings and grounds, but its enlightened curriculum as well, the institution, founded in 1825, became known as “Mr. Jefferson’s University.” More than 180 years later, it remains one of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the United States.
Educating teachers has traditionally been a central mission of the University of Virginia (UVA), and is associated with some significant firsts: The school of education was established in 1905 by the university’s first official president, for instance, and the first African-American to graduate from the University in 1953 earned a doctorate in education. So it’s not too surprising that when Carnegie Corporation’s education program was seeking exceptional institutions to participate in its groundbreaking program, Teachers for a New Era (TNE), the University was one of the strongest candidates. What was surprising was the vision and creativity TNE engendered in University of Virginia leaders, and the impressive results of their commitment to seeing it succeed in dramatic ways.
Seeking the Key to Student Achievement
Carnegie Corporation launched Teachers for a New Era in 2001 with one major goal in mind: producing measurably better results in the nation’s classrooms. Extensive research based on thousands of student records in schools across the country had suggested that the teacher is the single most important factor in pupil performance. “The quality of the teacher corps that is produced will largely determine the success or failure of our public education systems and affect the future of our democracy for years to come,” said Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian. ”If we really want to improve student achievement, we have no choice but to improve teaching.” With additional support from the Annenberg and Ford Foundations, the Corporation set about doing just that.
Step one was to settle on a straightforward approach to the complex challenge of improving teacher performance. According to Daniel Fallon of Carnegie Corporation’s Education Division, the architect of Teachers for a New Era, “The most pressing question in the field for which the research community seeks an answer today is: What specific interventions in the education of teachers are most likely to enable the teacher to bring about learning growth in pupils?” As he explained, “This question assumes that some teachers are more effective than others—an empirical fact, and that the behaviors that make them so can be taught and learned—a hypothesis.”
According to Fallon, there’s solid evidence that having a good teacher three years in a row can trump negative socioeconomic factors. A bad teacher can have the opposite effect. “We know phenomenal teachers exist and we want to support them,” he stressed. Still, “it appears highly unlikely that a single design or analysis will provide a huge gain in our knowledge. Instead, what is needed is a programmatic approach to research in teacher effectiveness and, by extension, to teacher preparation.”
With this strategy in mind, Education Program staff and a prestigious advisory group of experts in the field considered a broad spectrum of institutions that educate teachers, ultimately choosing the University of Virginia and ten other universities with strong existing teacher education programs and the capacity to respond effectively to the challenge of redesigning their teacher education programs with attention to three fundamental principles:
- A teacher education program guided by respect for evidence, including pupil learning gains accomplished under the tutelage of graduates of the program
- Faculty in the arts and sciences engaged in the education of prospective teachers, allowing them to develop deep knowledge of more than just the subject they are teaching
- Education viewed as an academically taught clinical practice profession requiring continuing professional support during the first two full years of teaching
Through TNE, the Corporation aimed for a radical change in teacher education affecting allocation of resources, academic organization, criteria for evaluating faculty, relationships with practicing schools and more. At the conclusion of the project, each of the chosen institutions was expected to stand out as one of the best programs possible for the preparation of a beginning professional teacher. In short, the objective was nothing less than a new future for teaching and learning throughout the country’s schools.
A Biologist Changes University Culture
In 2002, the University of Virginia became one of the first round of schools to receive a TNE grant of $5 million over five years.1 While only 124 of the 2,600 new teachers in the state that year were UVA graduates, enrollment in the university’s Curry School of Education had been growing steadily for some time. In addition, the Education School and the College of Arts and Sciences had already established functional linkages, offering a five-year integrated Teacher Education Program leading to a subject matter baccalaureate (B.A.) and a Master of Teaching (M.T.) degree as well as a two-year M.T. option for students who already hold B.As.
Despite its modest numbers, the university aspired to become a Research I institution dedicated to producing great teachers and to helping set state policy for teacher education reform. “Preparing first-rate K-12 teachers is one of the University of Virginia’s highest goals,“ said Gene Block, vice president and provost. “We are a university with a long historical mission to model excellent educational practice and we are undertaking our work at a time when there are grave doubts about the quality, and equality, of education available to American children.“ Despite what he acknowledged to be an “immense challenge,” Block believed that with a first-rate School of Education, a variety of scholars in Arts and Sciences with longstanding expertise working with teachers and, most important of all, first-rate students, UVA could “do the right thing” to produce the best possible teachers for this generation of pupils. All it would take would be to “bring these strands together.”
Gene Block has a Ph.D. in biology and is recognized for his research on the cellular and neural mechanisms affecting sleep, aging, the brain and the biological clock. As a scientist who serves on numerous advisory boards, Block is well aware of the power of collaboration to stimulate innovation. This was an advantage he wanted to bring to bear to the TNE grant from the beginning. “When I first learned about this opportunity I was intrigued,” Block recalled, “it’s wonderful funding. And it came at a good time for the university when, despite real concerns about teacher education, the state had run out of money to address the issue. At the same time, I was honestly worried about whether we could deliver the real product.”
To improve the odds, Block instituted a series of faculty seminars designed to raise awareness of assessment techniques and encourage a dialogue between Education and Arts and Sciences faculty (consistent with the second of the three fundamental principles of Teachers for a New Era). These “Evidence and Education” seminars, which have brought together some of the university’s top scholars, are unprecedented not only for the way they bridge divisions within the institution, but because they are hosted and led by Block himself. What really got people’s attention was the fact that the seminars would be held in the provost’s home, Pavilion V, one of the ten unique buildings Thomas Jefferson designed as faculty residences and lecture halls. Putting himself in the picture not only demonstrated Block’s commitment to teacher education reform, both as a scholar and an administrator, but allowed him to “learn a great deal in the process,” he said.
“Frankly, I think it was sheer fear that led me to come up with the notion to approach this challenge in a way that would allow the very best thinking to float to the top,” Block admitted. “Some people came kicking and screaming. They did not consider the prospect satisfying or of deep interest,” he recalled. “At the first meeting it was like people were speaking different languages…But over time there was a remarkable melding of these languages and of people’s interests. And it has led to new and creative approaches and to real cultural change at the university. Specifically, where in some quarters there was little or no interest in K-12, now K–12 is a significant research area.”
The Corporation’s leadership was intrigued by these innovative seminars and took advantage of the opportunity to obtain a first-hand report on one held during the fall of 2006 on the following topic:
Implicit attitudes and stereotypes about math and science: What is in our minds and how we experience our minds are not the same thing. Many mental activities occur outside of conscious awareness or control, including thoughts that are relevant to social life. This presentation will introduce the core ideas of implicit social cognition with interactive demonstrations, and then describe how these ideas are being applied to basic research on the development and influence of implicit attitudes and stereotypes on math/science interest, participation, persistence and performance.
About a dozen attendees gathered in the historic residence for a casual lunch, among them professors, chairs and deans of the departments of engineering, neuroscience, physics, psychology, computer science, English, the medical school and the school of education, as well as a local math teacher. The seminar followed, with a presentation by Brian Nosek and Fred Smyth of the psychology department, who used a series of visuals, quizzes and brain teaser-style exercises to demonstrate hidden prejudices and the mind’s tendency to mislead.2 The discussion that ensued revealed widely varied backgrounds and points of view. It also offered a glimpse of the sort of unpredictable partnerships that might emerge from such a meeting, as Smyth approached the engineering school dean—who earlier had mentioned wanting his students to be more involved in community service—about a Chicago charter school for economically disadvantaged girls where he and Nosek were conducting research.
This interaction typified the “seminar effect,” according to associate English professor Victor Luftig, who has perfect attendance at the meetings in his capacity as director of the University’s TNE programs. Asked to explain their success, he says, “We had the ideal provost: a teacher who was in the lab for a long time. Besides envisioning the cross-disciplinary benefits, he set up structures that can be sustained through future administrations.…Having this kind of leadership that’s sympathetic to grantees develops dedication; that’s the core value that you really want.”
Another strength is the seminar series’ ongoing evolution and inclusion of new groups through the years. One of the high points for Block came when representatives of local schools were invited to attend. “These are the people in the trenches,” he said, “and they became the focus of much attention. While there was some expectation that people from outside the university might destabilize the process, we soon realized they should have been there all along. They offered real-world validation. They could tell us what was doable in the classroom as well as providing insight on the research.” For instance, the teachers made it clear that “data collection is a huge burden,” according to Block, and “we wouldn’t walk right into the classroom and be embraced,” as some of the university researchers had expected. Now they know to anticipate significant delays in getting results. “It’s just the way scholarly work is,” Block stated bluntly.
Recently, there was even more evidence of synergy as the group turned one seminar into a workshop to review a National Science Foundation request for proposals for “Discovery Research K-12.” These federal funds can be used for “research, development and evaluation activities through knowledge generation and application to improve K-12 learning and teaching.” The program addresses its mission by funding activities in three major areas: applied research; development of resources and tools; and capacity building for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) systems research or STEM education research scholars.
The “Discovery” proposals currently in the UVA pipeline range from a math professor’s virtual mathematics manipulatives designed to help strengthen students’ concepts of fractions, to an astronomy professor’s measurement of the impact of summer workshops on teachers’ content knowledge to a materials science and engineering professor’s concept for an adaptive, online engineering career guidance tool. “We were hoping for a few ideas,” Luftig said, and “two or three would have sufficed. But we got eight—only one of which came from the school of education, where this sort of work is usually done. It’s evidence of real capacity building, which is a pretty good description of what TNE is accomplishing here.”
A Historian Expands Arts and Sciences Horizons
The one place in the University of Virginia where the impact of Teachers for a New Era has been even greater than in the School of Education is in the College of Arts and Sciences, says Daniel Fallon. And the person most responsible is the College’s visionary dean, Ed Ayers. Author and editor of nine books, one a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and winner of numerous scholarship and teaching awards including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s 2003 National Professor of the Year, Ayers brings a historian’s broad perspective to the project. It is his, and the College’s, ambition to hold themselves to “the same high standard represented by the most knowledgeable primary or secondary educator,” he explained, by seeking to “contemplate and share knowledge that is as broad, diverse and intense as that suggested under ambitious headings such as “World History,” “World Literature” and “The Scientific Method.”
New approaches to learning such as Common Courses, funded by Teachers for a New Era, are helping to make that happen. In each course a team of faculty from various disciplines provides a 360-degree view of a subject as daunting as, say, “Designing Matter.” Termed a “collaborative learning experiment,” this course, which is open to all undergraduates, involves students in a quest to understand matter in all its forms: “Where does matter come from? How can it be manipulated, shaped, transformed, represented? How do human beings understand and interact with matter? If matter is only 5 percent of what exists, what makes up the remaining 95 percent of the universe?”
Clearly, there’s more than one path to solving these mysteries. In science-based seminars with a humanities spin on subjects from quantum physics to gene therapy to architecture, climate change and astronomy, students explore these questions across the disciplines, under the aegis of the coordinator, a chemistry professor. It’s a rare opportunity for majors in biology, chemistry, art, education, English, anthropology and other fields to interact and develop an awareness of how answers to these big questions may be influenced by one’s particular point of view. This and other Common Courses, which typically have enrollments of up to 300, represent the College’s greatest commitment to educating the future elementary or middle school teachers, whose necessary facility in moving among diverse kinds of knowledge can be seen as the embodiment of liberal learning.
“We ask teachers to do what we ourselves declare impossible,” said Ayers, “to synthesize a broad body of knowledge in a way that will be intrinsically useful. In creating Common Courses we are attempting to build a bridge, but admittedly, trying to craft something that mimics the classroom is very difficult.” Setting up a program that reaches across divisions is not easy for the university, the dean notes, because each department is accustomed to keeping its own house in order in its own way. “Even though the students and the faculty like these courses very much, there’s lots of machinery to be dealt with. That’s where the greatest challenge lies.” Big interdisciplinary efforts are hard to manage, according to Ayers, and without a single departmental home it’s a struggle to keep things running. In a large institution like a university “the forces of inertia are strong,” he noted, which requires “constantly making it happen.”
It is worth the effort for such a forward looking and hopeful program aimed at turning out “better teachers with better connections to their fields,” he believes. And UVA faculty have committed to an impressive roster of Common Courses extending beyond the term of the TNE grant:
- “The Mind of the Artist,” a collaboration between a psychologist and historians of music and art;
- “Freedom and Enlightenment of the South,” taught by a scholar with joint appointments in English and medicine, highlighting the historical study of teaching and learning;
- “Arts and Cultures of the South,” a collaboration among art history and architecture faculty, encouraging students to engage artifacts associated with local culture, as practicing teachers frequently must do;
- “Rural Poverty in Our Time,” taught in cooperation with the Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies and requiring 20 hours volunteer work on some aspect of poverty;
- “Food for Thought,” an examination of global nutrition issues by an economist and a biologist.
Another new TNE-inspired idea is the Counterpoint Seminar, designed to encourage students to think about issues of content and of delivery in relation to, rather than in isolation from, one another. Simply put, learning how to teach the content of a particular course becomes just as important as learning the course material. Counterpoint Seminars are linked to survey courses and are open to school of education students (who have already taken the survey course) as well as graduate students in arts and sciences.
Here’s how Counterpoint Seminars work: A student takes an English Literature survey course as a sophomore, for example. Later, usually as a senior, the same student takes the Counterpoint Seminar linked to that English Lit course, with the goal of determining the best way to teach its content to children in grades K-12. Counterpoint Seminars are led by advanced graduate students from the Curry School of Education and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences working in coordination with the faculty member teaching the related survey course.
The need for the Counterpoint approach is something dean Ed Ayers has witnessed firsthand. “I taught the required American History course,” he explained, “and paid no attention to the fact that many of my students were training to be teachers. On one occasion, graduate students who were teacher candidates were invited in to talk about textbooks in the context of the course. Twenty minutes into it I realized they’d be teaching in six months! The scales fell from my eyes and I had an epiphany about leveraging content knowledge, a notion we regularized with TNE support.”
Counterpoint Seminars have been offered in literature, history and astronomy. In response to future teachers’ most pressing needs, the latest round included world history—considered notoriously difficult to cover in college but urgently needed in K-12; child and adolescent psychology—a unique opportunity to adapt content preparation in a field future teachers often study; and foreign language—which is challenging given the wide variety of languages students are preparing to teach. Along with Common Courses, Counterpoint Seminars have been ranked highly in student evaluations and their enrollment has steadily increased. For teacher candidates these seminars develop strong ‘pedagogical content knowledge,’ a term used to desribe a teacher’s ability to transform academic content into teachable subject matter.
According to Ayers, the strength of the BA/MT program already in place at UVA was a big factor in being chosen for TNE funding,”It takes full advantage of a four-year liberal arts education,” he said, “with teacher education classes and practice teaching during the third year. It fit TNE quite well.” From the very first meeting in UVA’s historic Rotunda, Ayers saw Teachers for a New Era as “one of the most promising things that could happen here. My reaction was ‘Yes, yes, yes!’” he recalled. Having only recently been made dean after 26 years of teaching, and facing a state budget crisis, Ayers knew a good thing when he saw it.
It was the existing relationship between education and arts and sciences divisions that clinched the TNE deal, in Ayers’ view. He had been involved in integrating Curry with liberal arts even before becoming dean, and four years into the grant remains highly enthusiastic about TNE’s prospects. He’s particularly proud of the advisory process it generated. Seven advising teams have been formed, each led by a college department chair or associate dean and consisting of faculty from both colleges. “Students were the active agents in the alliance,” Ayers noted, “and brought teachers into it. Now advisors from the College know Curry advisors. They work together to make sure students are getting the very best advice to help them as teachers, which assures they will live up to their potential.”
Also thanks to the impetus of Teachers for a New Era, the University of Virginia has worked harder to recruit underrepresented groups to the teaching profession and as a result of these efforts has concluded that initiatives must begin much earlier—ideally before students have matriculated into college—recognizing the importance of outreach to high school students and entering college students considering teaching but still undecided. At the same time, the Students Exploring Teaching (SET) program has targeted non-Curry students still deliberating about formal teacher education, and has also had notable success with underrepresented groups. After TNE, these efforts will become a permanent feature of the College of Arts and Sciences.
In the summer of 2006, Ayers expanded on the success of Teachers for a New Era at the University of Virginia with a conference of leading historians at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. The next generation of history teachers was invited from all over the country, along with master high school teachers and researchers. They came together for two days of deep discussion and discovery aimed at determining the optimum way for history to be taught and went away armed with ideas they said would never have occurred to them otherwise, according to Ayers. “This conference and the national conversation it inspired were a direct outgrowth of TNE and our friendship with Carnegie Corporation,” he said, “and it is one of many examples of how the program is growing, rather than shrinking, as the grant comes to an end.”
A Psychologist Assesses Teacher Quality
Bypassing their own contributions, Provost Gene Block and Dean Ed Ayers see the most promising aspect of Teachers for a New Era in the assessment programs designed by Dr. Robert C. Pianta. A professor in the Curry School of Education and in the Department of Psychology, Pianta has a background in clinical, developmental and school psychology. His work has focused on how children’s experiences at home and at school affect their development, an interest stemming from his years as a special education teacher when he observed that “close relationships were powerful assets to kids and their teachers.” The author of more than 200 publications on such subjects as school readiness and teacher-child interaction, Pianta exudes energy, and the framed marathon photos and bibs on his office walls testify he’s good for the long haul.
Pianta directs the new Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), which produces evidence-based research on student learning (from preschool through high school) with particular emphasis on the challenges posed by poverty, social or cultural isolation or lack of community resources. While acknowledging that assessment is complicated because “there are lots of variables in the classroom that make it hard to determine specifically what value a teacher adds to learning,” the Center’s work shows that “if you combine analysis of pupil performance with empirical analysis of what teachers actually do in classrooms, that information can be fed back into improved teaching,” Block said.
According to Pianta, the Center is thriving because of TNE and because of Gene Block’s interest in teacher education. “Initially we were not really part of TNE, but we needed more money for doing assessment,” Pianta recalled. “I went to one of the provost’s seminars and talked about our line of work—a large-scale observation metric—and his attention was caught. I said, ‘teachers matter, and we have the scientific evidence for the ways they matter and can improve on it.’ He felt CASTL made sense for UVA: The capacity was here, and its promise could be met.”
Daniel Fallon considers CASTL “the heart of what we’re up to,” and added, “Pianta is ahead of everybody. Post-TNE efforts will be built around him.” By taking observations of the practices of effective teachers and turning them into real information about what teachers do, Pianta is building a framework for assessing teacher behavior and pupil performance that will be tested experimentally all around the country. What emerges will be a picture of real life in the classroom, not just numbers. “So far, Teachers for a New Era has done a good job of connecting future teachers to arts and sciences,” Pianta said. Now, he explained, we need to figure out how to connect to teachers in the field for better outcomes.
Recent studies of pupil outcomes confirm that there really are differences between “good” and “bad” teachers, he further explained. One study followed 1,000 first graders randomly assigned to teachers of varying abilities, and revealed that kids from tougher circumstances who landed in low-rated classrooms lagged even further behind, creating big gaps in reading achievement between them and higher scoring, less vulnerable kids. “The prevalence of ‘good’ classes is only about 25 percent overall,” Pianta pointed out, “and poor kids are somewhat less likely to get one of these. Yet all the teachers passed the state cut. I wonder—are we paying attention to the right things?”
“It’s unfortunate that teachers haven’t been studied more using the tools of developmental psychology,” he believes. “Experts in adult cognition tell us that teacher skills and the attitudes they form regarding themselves and students are related to working memory. They process information in real time. Teachers who can do this well have a high level of cognitive skills. We can help develop these skills by understanding the basic components of teaching. This may help improve the basic science of how teachers are trained. If we can engage in systematic, rigorous research, teacher education will be in a different place ten years from now.”
The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning brings to bear the capacity of the University of Virginia, the leadership of key faculty and more than $25 million in funded research grants already in place with the aim of affecting the future of education and influencing education policy nationally and internationally. Its day-to-day work involves faculties from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Curry School of Education in monthly assessment seminars and in small- and large-scale research studies on the effects of UVA teacher education and induction programs (the aspect of TNE that provides support for new graduates during their first two years in the classroom). The Center is also building an integrated database that tracks the characteristics, experiences and performance of teacher candidates from preservice education through their initial years of teaching using new techniques that make it possible to chart the development of groups of teacher candidates and to study the effects of changes to the teacher education program.
An important innovation in this work is the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)3—a standardized method of organizing classroom observations that tracks teacher performance over time. Pianta and his colleagues conducted large-scale classroom observation studies as well as extensive reviews of other research on the teacher’s impact on students, which revealed more about how interactions between students and adults act as the primary mechanism of student development. Based on their work, the CLASS measures the instructional and social-emotional interactions proven to contribute to students’ academic achievement and social competencies.
The CLASS is designed for:
- Researchers who want a classroom observation tool with established links to children’s social and academic development;
- Administrators who want a standardized and validated tool to conduct classroom observations that will help assess and improve classroom quality across grades;
- University teacher educator programs that want a quantitative measure of the degree to which they are successful in preparing students to meet the challenges of teaching;
- Teacher trainers who want video examples of high-quality teaching to use during trainings; and
- Teachers who want to learn more about effective teaching practices.
Validated in over 2,000 classrooms, CLASS clearly describes multiple dimensions of teaching and standardizes techniques for monitoring and responding to kids’ cues in the classroom. “It’s hard to train people to see these behaviors in a measurable way,” Pianta admitted. “But if engineers and biologists can deal with complex systems, so can we.” The CLASS Web site illustrates the rating system’s three broad areas of classroom quality—Emotional Support, Classroom Organization and Instructional Support—which are common across all grades.
Within each broad area are more specific definitions to help the teacher understand exactly what the category means. These can be explored through a combination of Web-based review, training sessions and an ancillary program, “My Teaching Partner,” a Web-based teaching tool that allows users to learn from videos of real-life classroom situations. “This feature allows teachers to access hundreds of examples of how to handle a classroom situation: how to respond to students’ emotional cues when they are off task or acting out; how to effectively de-escalate or re-engage, for example. When they see it, they can learn it,” Pianta said. “We’ve been able to show, within one year of exposure, a definite improvement in practice quality.”
Sustaining TNE at UVA
Forecasting life after Teachers for a New Era, Victor Luftig said, “we want to be small and fantastic. Our value is in producing models that apply globally. That’s our number-one priority right now, and it’s the right role for a research institution to play. “ How to sustain the benefits of the grant over the long term has been on provost Gene Block’s mind more or less since the beginning, although he might not have envisioned how much of his own time and interest would be invested along the way. “I thought I would host the seminars only for a while,“ he commented, ”but I was caught up and I learned something. It was selfish; simply doing something I liked.” To keep the program going strong, he has established a five-part strategy for sustaining the work begun through Teachers for a New Era:
- The TNE Research Advisory Council, chaired by the provost, will guide future TNE research.
- Three years of start-up funds have been provided for the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, which will be responsible to Block, and will ensure that the Curry School of Education continues to benefit from TNE’s research-driven culture.
- The Center for the Liberal Arts, which is directed by the current TNE project manager and reports to the provost, will manage College of Arts and Sciences engagement with in-service K-12 teachers.
- Raising TNE matching funds to support the induction residency work has been presented to the University Development Office as a high priority.
- The Teacher Education Committee, reestablished by and reporting to Block, has been charged with managing and sustaining TNE efforts undertaken jointly by the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Common Courses and Counterpoint Seminars will continue, given faculty replacement and graduate student support; funds that were needed to launch these courses are no longer essential due to the faculty’s interest in enlisting for intellectual rather than financial reasons. Dean Ayers has authorized any needed funding until additional support comes in from the College of Arts and Sciences capital campaign. Meanwhile, endowments will support Curry School of Education evidence-based and interdisciplinary efforts, while the induction, believed to have great promise because of its positive early results and replicability, will be funded by the local school districts that benefit from
At the end of the day, what might Thomas Jefferson have to say about Teachers for a New Era’s impact on the University of Virginia? Surely the man who wanted education available to every citizen, and who counted founding the University as one of his top three achievements, would see it as a rousing success. As evidence, here’s what Jefferson said about the university in 1821: “What object of our lives can we propose so important? What interest of our own which ought not be postponed to this? Health, time, labor—on what in the single life which nature has given us can these be better bestowed than on this immortal boon to our country? The exertions and the mortifications are temporary; the benefit eternal.”
Karen Theroux is an editor/writer in the Corporation’s Public Affairs department with many years’ experience in educational publishing.