In the Rankings
UVA ranks second in the number of alumni entering the Peace Corps among medium-size colleges and universities. Currently, 71 graduates are volunteers in various posts around the world; 1,014 alumni have participated in the program since its creation in 1961.
Among schools of a similar size, George Washington University ranks No. 1. Historically, though, the University of California, Berkeley, has outpaced all other schools, with 3,457 Peace Corps alumni to date.
UVA is among a select group of schools with an on-site Peace Corps recruiter, a “volunteer-in-residence” who conducts outreach programs and the initial screening and nomination of candidates. For those worried that a stint in the Peace Corps will derail their career plans, recruiter Jonathan Moore says: “Having Peace Corps on your résumé is almost always going to helpful. And it makes you a better person.”
UVA’s schools of medicine, nursing and law climbed in the rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools. Its other graduate schools in business, education and engineering all remained in the top 40.
The School of Medicine’s primary care program showed the biggest jump, from No. 39 to No. 20; officials say this reflects the school’s success in obtaining stimulus funding and the introduction of its new, active-learning curriculum. The school’s ranking in the research category improved from No. 25 to No. 22.
The School of Nursing rose from No. 19 to No. 15, and the School of Law moved up one spot to No. 9 to tie with the University of California, Berkeley.
In other closely watched metrics, UVA led the Princeton Review’s “best value” rankings among public colleges and universities for the third year in a row.
The Thomas Jefferson Medals
The 2011 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals, the University’s highest honors, recognized the achievements of three individuals in endeavors that Jefferson held in high regard: architecture, law and citizen leadership.
Maya Lin, an artist and environmental designer who is best known for her 1981 design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., received the medal in architecture. Cynthia D. Kinser (Law ‘77), the first female chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, accepted the medal in law.
Philanthropist Peter G. Peterson, founder of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which advocates solutions to the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, was honored for citizen leadership.
The awards were presented during Founder’s Day activities on April 13 jointly by UVA and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello.
UVA creative writing professor Deborah Eisenberg is winner of the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her compilation, The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg, which brings together four volumes of her work. The largest peer-juried prize for fiction in America, it comes with a $15,000 purse.
The honor follows on the heels of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant that Eisenberg received in September. A faculty member in the English department since 1994, she is also the recipient of a Rea Award for the Short Story, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Foundation Writer’s Award. Her most recent volume of short stories, Twilight of the Superheroes, was a PEN/Faulkner finalist in 2007.
In promoting diversity
Longtime faculty member and administrator Angela M. Davis received the John T. Casteen III Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Leadership Award for her commitment and contributions to diversity and tolerance within the University community. Currently a special assistant to the vice president and chief student affairs officer, Davis joined the English faculty in 1975 and worked in the Office of Residence Life for 30 years, where she initiated a training program for resident staff that emphasized diversity and inclusion and set about diversifying the mostly white student staff. Davis strengthened recruitment and retention of African-American and other minority students through student panel discussions at events, such as Spring Fling for newly accepted minority students. She also helped found Culturefest as part of Parents’ Weekend.
In pioneering research
Boris P. Kovatchev, director of the UVA Center for Diabetes Technology, is the 2011 Edlich-Henderson Inventor of the Year. His novel computational methods are credited with significantly advancing the field of diabetes research worldwide, according to the UVA Patent Foundation, which made the selection. Kovatchev is among the University’s most prolific inventors, with 36 U.S. and international patents and 62 more patents currently pending. His most recent work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Artificial Pancreas Project has the goal of achieving an automated system to disperse insulin based on real-time changes in blood sugar levels, with no action required by the user.