We began the new year at UVA with a lingering sense of grief and outrage following a fall semester that involved the deaths of four students and the publication of a magazine article that unfairly maligned our community and many of its members. But in the spirit of springtime revival, we are moving forward in the new semester with a renewed commitment to our University family and with great optimism about what we can accomplish together.
The Rolling Stone article is now largely discredited, but its publication made UVA the focal point of a broad, national discussion. Sexual misconduct is a problem on America's college campuses, in the military, and in workplaces everywhere. It is a high risk for all young adults, whether or not they go to college. This moment of national attention to our University means we have an opportunity to lead the way in developing solutions to a complex problem, and we fully intend to lead.
To accomplish this, we have begun a rigorous self-examination of the University's programs and practices, with the goals of improvement and leadership. We have already developed several new initiatives to make our Grounds and surrounding areas as safe as possible. Faculty and staff from all corners of the University are contributing to this effort, and in the best tradition of student self-governance, our students have taken an assertive leadership role, most visibly in revising the Fraternal Organization Agreements to include practical safety measures for Greek life. Students are now examining the Contracted Independent Organization agreements for UVA's 800-plus student-run organizations. Student Council and the Honor Committee are playing significant roles.
It's entirely appropriate that the University of Virginia should lead, both as an institution and through our individual efforts, because leadership is in our DNA. Two centuries ago, Thomas Jefferson created this University as a training ground for the leaders of a new republic, and we uphold that founding purpose today. Leadership development for students, faculty and staff is a pervasive theme in the Cornerstone Plan, our blueprint for the University's future.
In one example of student-leadership training, this spring the first cohort of 25 students is enrolled in the Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership, which is one of the new products emerging from the Cornerstone Plan. The Lewis Fellows take academic courses on leadership, learn critical skills and competencies, and conduct field-based independent study to apply their learning to leadership issues. This program is preparing students for the significant levels of leadership that they assume on Grounds, while giving them a strong foundation for a lifetime of leadership in their careers and communities.
The inaugural class of 48 students is now enrolled in the Master of Science in Data Science program through our new Data Science Institute, another product of the Cornerstone Plan. This 11‐month professional program equips students for leadership in industry and government in areas related to data analytics, storage, security and ethics. The University's Honor Code provides a basis for our students to analyze and shape the ethical dimensions of Big Data.
We also have programs to help faculty and staff assume greater levels of leadership, both at UVA and nationally. For example, each year 60 faculty members participate in the Leadership in Academic Matters program, focusing on issues such as organizational change, financial decision-making, conflict resolution and teamwork. A strong, skilled staff is essential to the success of the University, so we have established the Center for Leadership Excellence to support our staff, focusing on succession development and career development.
Increasingly, UVA is a global leader in research. We are launching a new partnership this year with the Max Planck Society, Europe's premier research institution, to revolutionize the production and use of energy. The collaboration will focus on producing clean energy from alternative sources such as water and solar, and it will distinguish UVA as a leader in addressing global energy challenges.
In another extension of UVA's global leadership, we will open a new UVA China Office in Shanghai this spring. The Shanghai office will strengthen UVA's presence in this critical region of the world by supporting research partnerships, academic programs, student internships and alumni relations.
Even the University's architecture is an expression of our leadership. When Thomas Jefferson created UVA's original buildings, he designed the Rotunda to house the library and placed it at the University's focal point, rather than a church or chapel, which was the common practice in universities at the time. This was a message to the world that this University would place the pursuit of truth and knowledge at its center.
We continue to express our leadership today through our stewardship of this global treasure. We have now entered the second phase of the Rotunda restoration, which includes renovation of the Dome Room, replacement of the building's column capitals and other repairs. In early February, contractors removed the old, damaged capitals from the columns, and began replacing them with new ones that, like Mr. Jefferson's originals, were carved by craftsmen in Italy. This is one of the most dramatic phases of the restoration, as we prepare the Rotunda for the University's bicentennial and beyond.
As the Rotunda restoration goes on, our UVA community is undergoing a restoration of its own following a traumatic semester last fall. We are working together to enhance a climate and culture at UVA that is highly conducive to our students' pursuit of academic excellence and leadership. At the same time, we are intently focused on the future, as we prepare to step forward into UVA's third century with the Cornerstone Plan as our guide.
Opportunities for leadership are all around us. Let's seize them together.