On the mornings of UVA home football games, Doug Knapp and his wife, Pat, drive 60 miles from their home in Goochland, Va., to Charlottesville. Rather than winding up at Scott Stadium, however, the two head to the University’s Alumni Hall to attend “More than the Score” talks, where professors discuss subjects ranging from nanotechnology to presidential history.
“We don’t go to the football games. We are going there specifically for More than the Score,” says Knapp, whose daughter graduated from UVA in 2010. The Knapps started attending the talks in 2007 and have kept coming back ever since, even after their daughter graduated.
The first More than the Score talk was held at Homecomings in 2005, when physics professor Lou Bloomfield talked about the physics of football. More than 300 people attended the talk, leading the Alumni Association and the Office of Engagement to establish a permanent program.
Today the program features seven or eight talks every fall with 250 to 500 people attending each lecture, according to Althea Brooks, director of Lifetime Learning and Alumni and Parent Engagement. “The talks last for one hour, and include time for a Q & A session. Although the setting is informal, many attendees think of the lectures as a college class. “We provide notepads and pens at each talk, and attendees take notes,” Brooks says. “They’re serious about learning.”
Jim Perkins and his wife, Morgan, who ran an art gallery in downtown Charlottesville, have attended the talks regularly since retiring in 2009. “We appreciate what other people have to share about things that we don’t know in our experience,” says Jim Perkins. “The strength of the program is that it offers such a variety that most anyone can find something that they’re interested in.”
Brooks begins planning the season’s lectures in April, which can be tricky sometimes. “What’s popular in April in the news may not be relevant in October or November when we present the talk,” she says. “For example, we have an upcoming talk about Edward Snowden,” who came to international attention more than a year ago. “I asked the faculty member who is speaking on this topic if this will still be of interest in November. And he said yes, because the impact on U.S. security and intelligence will be felt for years to come.”
Knapp and his wife say they are ready for the lectures to begin again. “I break out my UVA clothing to wear on those Saturdays to look as if we’re going to the game,” he says. “But we’re not. Instead we’re More than the Score’s biggest fans.”