At the end of last year, the rector and the president of the University came to us with an important request: Could we develop a project that allows students and alumni to learn from one another about Honor—how it enriches the UVA experience and profoundly shapes the rest of our lives?

Lily West Sarah Cramer Shields

We were, and are, honored to help.

As Rector Whittington W. Clement (Col ’70, Law ’74) and President James E. Ryan (Law ’92) kindly noted in their letter to us, we’re a natural fit for the assignment. We’ve worked to support the Honor System throughout our history, which is even older than the Honor System’s.

The Alumni Association stewards the Honor Endowment, an important resource to decades of Honor Committees. Through Reunions and other events, we’ve convened thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations on Honor for generations. And this magazine continues to provide authoritative and trusted coverage of the Honor System, including on some of its most difficult subjects.

The University leaders mentioned two such topics in their letter to us. They noted alumni concerns that the Honor System “is not as central as it once was” to the student experience and alumni perceptions “that students and faculty do not take the concept of Honor as seriously as they did in the past.” Our story investigates those very issues.

Among other revelations, our reporting for this issue uncovered something that particularly resonated with those of us working to fulfill the University’s request. The story calls it buried treasure—the Stanford Study, a rare outsider’s evaluation of the UVA Honor System, conducted more than 30 years ago and uncannily relevant today. We were particularly taken with the Stanford Study’s beautiful articulation of what it dubbed “the Honor Spirit.”

From that inspiration comes Living Honor, a multiplatform, multimedia Alumni Association project devoted to bringing students and alumni together to understand each other’s perspectives on the ideals of Honor, which underpin our cherished Community of Trust. Throughout the project, we found that the spirit of Honor is deeply personal, community-strengthening, and alive. While times, and the Honor System itself, inevitably change, the foundational values of Honor hold true.

A special Living Honor video is scheduled to premiere as part of first-year Honor Convocation. At its heart are the moving dialogues we convened between students and alumni about the spirit of Honor. You’ll be able to see it, and more content we’re curating, in the coming months.

Here’s to Living Honor and growing our Community of Trust,

Signature of Lily West

Lily West (Darden ’12)
President & CEO