More than 1,500 members of the University community participated in a Day of Dialogue that President Teresa Sullivan called the “first step toward building a more caring community” in her welcoming remarks at Old Cabell Hall. Before officially becoming president, Sullivan worked with students, faculty members and administrators during the summer to create an event that she hoped would give “voice to our mourning and grief for the suffering and death that have occurred here in Charlottesville, and that continues to occur in every corner of the world.”
After introductory remarks and a reprise of songs performed by the Virginia Belles and the Virginia Gentlemen at the candlelight vigil for Yeardley Love in May, participants dispersed to a series of small-group dialogue sessions around Grounds. Sullivan encouraged attendees not to seek grand conclusions in their discussions, but instead to channel their grief into energy.
In the days leading up to the Day of Dialogue, the Rotunda’s south columns were draped in dark veils—a temporary installation created by Sanda Iliescu, associate professor of architecture and art. The veils “bring people together in the shared experience of human grief and loss,” Iliescu says. “This … is driven by a desire to be frank about the gravity of recent events. It would be distasteful to turn away, or avert one’s eyes, from the tragedy of the young lives lost here last year.”