Kick back and relax with a selection of books by faculty and alumni, or chill out with some techniques for reducing stress. If you’re tired of hearing the kids say they’re bored during summer break, consider sending them to UVA—there’s more going on at the University in the summertime than you might realize.

Summer is also ripe for adventure and travel. Find the perfect oceanfront getaway with the help of an alumnus known as Dr. Beach, hang 10 in Hatteras or find inspiration for your next journey with some recent graduates who built their own batteau. Closer to home, learn the best way to take care of your lawn and find out some ideal choices for a backyard vegetable garden.

So grab a cold drink, put your feet up and learn about a few of the things that UVA and UVA sunscreen have in common.

1. Beating the Heat

Summer Relaxation: How to manage stress this season or any season

We all want to kick back and enjoy the long days of summer. Many of us go on vacation or fill our weekends with warm weather recreation, but it can still be hard to relax.

Dr. John Schorling, who teaches at the UVA Mindfulness Center, says we can think about relaxation as the absence of stress, “though for most of us, reducing stress is a more realistic goal than eliminating it,” he says. Schorling explains that stress often results from thinking about the past and wishing it was different or worrying about the future. “Neither of those do we actually have control over,” he says. Pay attention to what is happening in the present.

There is a basic formula for managing stress, says Schorling, and it is that an event plus our response equals an outcome. “To change the outcome, we either have to change the event—which is often outside our control—or change our response, which is in our control,” he says. He points out that people tend to have typical ways that they respond. If someone steals your parking space at the amusement park, you may typically get angry. But you don’t have to. “We can choose to respond differently,” says Schorling. “If we’re mindful and notice our reaction, ‘I’m getting angry now,’ we can choose to yell … or we can let the angry thoughts go.”

Learning to respond differently is possible, but it takes practice. “And the practice is meditation; focusing our attention on breathing; noticing when thoughts arise and letting them go; and returning to noticing breathing,” says Schorling.

Escape Into a Book: Picks for your summer reading list

Get lost in the wilderness of Idaho in Erin Saldin’s (Grad ’07) debut novel, The Girls of No Return. Set at a remote school for reforming delinquents, the novel explores the agony and the ecstasy of friendship between young women. “A smart, absorbing story about damaged girls realizing how hard it is to connect with other people when you don’t trust anyone,” writes a reviewer in the New York Times.

Explore the Chesapeake Bay in UVA professor Christopher Tilghman’s third novel, The Right-Hand Shore. In 1922, Edward Mason visits his dying distant cousin at the Mason family estate—a former plantation and peach orchard, and now a dairy. He learns about his ties to the land and the heartbreaking history of his family. “Tilghman’s vision of the American past—and particularly of individuals caught in the tidal sweep of history—is dazzling in its precision and clarity,” writes Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain.

West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life, a book by Jonathan Coleman (Col ’73) and basketball legend Jerry West, is a revealing look at the man behind the NBA logo. Covering West’s tough childhood in West Virginia to his 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player, coach and general manager, “West by West is a rounded, honest and moving exploration not just of West’s life under the arena spotlights, but his passages through his darkest hours,” writes journalist and author Gay Talese.

2. On Grounds

Summer Programs at UVA

UVA Summer Sessions: Each year more than 4,000 students take summer classes. Many courses offered in the summer are not available during the rest of the academic year.

Summer Study Abroad Programs: UVA students study in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Central America and South America.

The Summer Language Institute: Take an intensive eight-week course in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian, Spanish, Tibetan, Chinese or Hebrew. Students learn listening, speaking, reading and writing skills for seven and half hours a day, five days a week.

The Sorensen Institute’s High School Leaders Program: This program offers concentrated study in Virginia politics and government for high school students from across the state.

UVA Young Writers Workshop: A program to develop the work of young writers, from rising freshmen to seniors in high school. (This year it will be held at the campus of Sweet Briar College.)

Cavalier Day Camp: A recreational and educational adventure for children going into grades one to five.

Summer Arts @ the UVA Art Museum: Young artists explore and create art.

Summer Enrichment Program at the Curry School: A residential summer program for gifted and talented students from grades four to 10.

Summer Nature Camps at Blandy Experimental Farm: Nature camps in the mornings and afternoons for 5- to 13-year-olds.

4-Star Camp: A camp for 7- to 18-year-olds that includes academics, golf, tennis and fun.

For more information about these and other summer programs, see President Teresa Sullivan’s letter and visit

Summer Orientation FAQ: What new students want to know about UVA

Throughout the summer, incoming undergraduate students visit the University for orientation. Over the course of two days, these almost-first-years stay in the dorms, eat at the dining halls and sign up for classes—a veritable short course of University life. New students arrive with many questions. UVA’s Summer Orientation organizers reveal which ones they hear most. 

How Do I Sign Up for Classes?
Students are introduced to SIS, the Student Information System, where they can sign up for classes, on day two of orientation. Orientation leaders usually spend day one answering this question.

Why can’t I get into Spanish 1010?
This is consistently the most popular and most desired class, which many new students need for their language requirement.

How do I go Greek?
Orientation leaders carefully explain that rush is in the spring and sororities begin rush earlier than the fraternities do. About 30 percent of UVA students are involved in Greek life.

And parents always ask:
What are the dimensions of the dorm rooms? Do we need to buy long sheets for the long beds?
The dorms are 16 feet by 12 feet, on average. Each student is given a twin bed that is five inches longer than a regular twin, which necessitates careful sheet purchasing.

3. On the Water

The Doctor Is In—the Water: Dr. Beach is ‘a kid at heart’ when it comes to surf and sand

Stephen Leatherman (Grad ’76), “America’s foremost beach expert,” is famous for his annual list of best beaches for vacationers, but where does “Dr. Beach” go when he wants to dig his toes into the sand?

A sentimental favorite—an area he learned to love while at UVA—is North Carolina’s Outer Banks. “They’re real dynamic, a real getaway,” he says, rattling off spots like Cape Hatteras, Jockey’s Ridge, Corolla and others. Duck is special, he says, and he likes to go early in the season and rent a big house with friends. “To me, that’s one of the best experiences.”

Living in Miami—Leatherman is director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University—he gravitates toward Cape Florida State Park, which is on the tip of Key Biscayne. “It’s a very high-quality beach,” he says.

Dr. Beach doesn’t surf, at least with a surfboard, but he loves to swim, snorkel, body surf, fish and comb the beaches. “I’m such an active person, I can’t lie down and sunbathe, plus I don’t want to get skin cancer,” he says. “If I’m not swimming or snorkeling, I’m digging in the sand—I’m still a kid at heart.”

You want exotic? Leatherman suggests Kangaroo Island, South Australia. “It’s famous for its kangaroos, and believe me you’re going to see a lot of them.”

Dr. Beach’s Top 10 list for 2012 was released Memorial Day Weekend. To see his selections, go to

The Flow of History: Batteau festival inspires greater adventure

For Andrew Shaw, riding a batteau is more than just taking a leisurely float on a boat.

“I love history. I love the river,” says Shaw (Col ’11). “The batteau is the perfect expression of the things I like to do and the things I love.”

The James River Batteau Festival, which will celebrate its 27th year in June, puts 20 or so boats and their crews on the water every summer to relive an era when waterways were commercial byways and social links.

The spirit of the James River festival infected Shaw to the extent that he has branched out on a more ambitious batteau project. With funding from the National Geographic Society, the UVA Alumni Association and private sources, he has built a boat to carry him and his crew, which includes classmate Wesley Andrews (Col ’11), on an expedition to retrace parts of an 1812 surveying voyage made by John Marshall while he was the U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice.

Shaw and his crew began their ascent of the James from Richmond in early April. One of the biggest challenges will be shooting the rapids of the New River Gorge, a tricky whitewater hot spot. But Marshall did it in 1812, and that inspires Shaw.

“Here’s this 57-year-old chief justice of the United States firing up the New River Gorge,” Shaw says. “That’s an awesome story.”

Surf School

“To watch someone’s face when they stand up and ride a wave for the first time is extremely rewarding. But even more than surfing—and that’s saying something—we have enjoyed creating an environment where kids can come from all over the place and feel both welcomed and loved as they are.”

—Ross Byrd (Col ’05) who co-founded and currently directs Surf Hatteras, a surf camp for kids on Hatteras Island, N.C. Byrd is not only a camp director and surfer but he also works as a lay minister during the nonsummer months.

4. Green Thumbs

Prudent Lawn Care: Excess fertilizer not a good way to go green

For some landscape lovers, nothing says summer like a lush lawn.

There are dangers, however, to pursuing a yard that turns neighbors green with envy. Imprudent use of fertilizers can lead to excessive nitrogen that has a harmful, cascading effect on the environment.

“Turf fertilizer can be an important or even dominant source of nitrogen to surface waters,” reads a report of the Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board, which was previously chaired by UVA professor James Galloway. Excess nitrogen can lead to algae blooms and fish kills, and can affect human health through polluted drinking water and air.

A leader in reactive nitrogen research, Galloway shared some facts and tips about lawns and fertilization from the EPA report.

  • The area under turf grass in the continental U.S. is roughly the size of the New England states and occupies an area up to three times larger than that of irrigated corn. About 75 percent of this is in residential lawns.
  • While underfertilization can lead to less grass and more weeds, some studies recommend not fertilizing lawns of acceptable appearance. Less fertilizer can yield acceptable lawns, especially once the lawn has matured (provided clippings are returned and mowing length is not too short).
  • Prudent fertilization practices may include using one-third to one-half (or less) of the recommended application rate.

Easy Summer Gardens: Planting suggestions from Blandy Experimental Farm

Nothing tastes more like summer than a home-grown tomato from your own backyard. Carrie Whitacre, assistant curator of herbaceous gardens at UVA’s Blandy Experimental Farm, has some suggestions for vegetables that are easy to grow, even for those of us who lack a green thumb.

Not everyone has a backyard, so Whitacre has some ideas for apartment-bound gardeners. “Several veggies can be successfully grown in containers,” she says. “The trick is giving them enough water and planting in a container big enough to sustain them for the entire season. Lettuces and herbs do well in window boxes. Tomatoes need larger containers.”