Getting a Read on Ryan »

Thank you for your beautiful piece on the new president. I have always been proud of being a UVA Law School alumnus, never more so than now. Ryan seems to exemplify the characteristics of many I met there, and with whom I remain close today (about a dozen of us Section G guys scattered around the country get together to play golf every year). I look forward to meeting President Ryan someday, but thanks to you I feel like I already know him.

Thomas G. Snow (Grad ’80, Law ’82)
Arlington, Virginia


One likes Ryan immediately, based on the appraisal by friends and colleagues. I look forward to future articles that spell out his vision for the University, including where he stands on some of the issues raised during Teresa Sullivan’s presidency of the University. The article gives me confidence that Ryan will, over the next months, develop a powerful vision for the future. My years at the University changed my life, and I am sure more lives will be enriched during Ryan’s presidency.

Larry Chamblin (Col ’60)
Pensacola, Florida


I have never read a more beautiful article on one person as you have written on Mr. Ryan. It took my heart away, especially the words about Mr. Ryan’s being adopted. Great job!

Jack Docherty (Educ ’61)
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina


Grant the Ryan family chickens immediate tenure!

Rick Swasey (Darden ’83)
Boston, Massachusetts


Calm Amid the Chaos »

As a graduate of the University, I too was gravely shaken by the events of August 11-12 in Charlottesville. I arrived in town in July 2006 preparing to enter the Master’s of Public Health program, and Charlottesville became my home. … During the events of that Saturday, my thoughts were on my friends in Charlottesville, but I also knew that my former boss Tom Berry and the Health System Emergency Management office were on the job that day. The article about Mr. Berry, Beth Mehring, the manager of the Life Support Learning Center and the Blue Ridge Poison Center and Nurse Jane Muir was uplifting. Having worked in the Emergency Management department for two years, I was confident that the leadership of Mr. Berry and the steadfast resolve of the Emergency Management team would work tirelessly to keep the health system operating steadily. I hope those who read the article got an idea of what it takes to keep a “forward leaning posture” (Mr. Berry’s phrase) to keep the Health System responsive to events such as these. The Health System has dedicated leaders in Emergency Preparedness/Response in Mr. Berry and Ms. Mehring, who continue to work to make the UVA Health System a premier institution in providing the best care in Virginia and the United States.

Woodnard K. “Woody“ Givens (Grad ’08)
Silver Spring, Maryland


I just wanted to say that this piece was beautifully written.  As a UVA nurse, I am proud to work with Beth Mehring, Tom Berry, many of the emergency department physicians and other professionals.  And Denise Watson is a very talented writer, kudos!

Kathy Mayo


When Speech Meets Hate »

Excellent, thorough and balanced article. A far deeper analysis than the one-sided views of law students previously commenting on the riots. They should have paid closer attention in Professor Schauer’s class.

Mike Silver (Law ’61)
New York, New York


The Winter 2017 edition of Virginia Magazine was the first prepared since August’s tragic events in Charlottesville. I opened it with interest. Surely, I thought, it would offer at least some acknowledgement that the University’s real-time response to the neo-Nazi rally on Grounds on August 11 has been widely criticized by experts as severely lacking. But it was not to be.

Instead, the edition directly addressed the August 11 rally in three ways: a summary of a recent Board of Visitors vote to remove several Confederate-themed memorials around Grounds and strengthen public safety policies regarding open flames; a description of the genuinely impressive efforts of UVA Medical Center’s Emergency Unit at treating injured victims of the violence of August 12; and a lengthy essay by Law professor Frederick Schauer, essentially arguing that the First Amendment put University officials in an impossible position where they had no alternative but essentially to do nothing— a conveniently exculpatory academic opinion.

Entirely absent from the Winter edition was any acknowledgment of the members of the University community who were victims of neo-Nazi violence on the night of August 11 (including one who was hospitalized for his injuries and subsequently suffered a stroke). An equally glaring omission from the magazine was any mention of an independent review by legal and law enforcement experts who examined the University’s response to the August 11 on-Grounds rally and found it “woefully inadequate.”

In the wake of the “Unite the Right” rally, the City of Charlottesville commissioned an independent report on the incident (which is available in its 207-page entirety at, prepared by the law firm Hunton & Williams, to evaluate the decisions and actions of University officials (among many others) on August 11 and 12. The conclusion of lead author Timothy Heaphy (Col ’86, Law ’91), the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, was clear: “The lack of [University] police intervention on Friday night set a dangerous tone for the events of the next day. UPD’s lack of intervention was obvious to everyone present, both among the Unite the Right torch-bearers and the organized counter-protesters who were planning to attend the larger Saturday rally.” The Heaphy report also depicts University officials at various levels as being generally inattentive to the situation and reluctant to ask outside law enforcement for assistance even after it became clear to police observers that the situation on the evening of August 11 had escalated into a public safety hazard.

I would have expected an institution dedicated to the search for the truth at least to acknowledge Mr. Heaphy’s findings and address them. It is disappointing that it has not, as of yet, done so.

Benjamin Tisdell (Com ’97)
Hong Kong


Two narratives that respond to white supremacists.

One on Grounds: “We stand united in our unanimous and unequivocal condemnation of those who promote hate, by way of violent speech and action—the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, the neo-Fascists, the anti-Semites. And we regard this condemnation as the expression of a simple, moral truth rather than a political statement.” (Religious Studies Department poster)

Another off-Grounds: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Show kindness to your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and bless those who curse you.  And do what is beautiful to the one who hates you, and pray over those.’” (Matthew 5:44)

Compare and contrast: One condemns; the other affirms. One simply angers; the other impassions. One is possible, the other seemingly impossible. One, virtue signals; the other presumes that we are all broken.

I am not promoting passivity. Quite the opposite: engagement. Be woke.

It takes little courage to meet one form of hate with another. Then, little will change.  Do we want an inspired University, different and engaged?  Or do we simply want to virtue signal, feeling morally superior? Only loving our enemies can heal the brokenness of a broken world.  As the poet, W.H. Auden wrote, speaking to himself, “You shall love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart.”

Douglas R. Woodside (Col ’81)


I just read the Winter 2017 issue and was blown away by the variety and strength of the pieces featured. I’ve been a dedicated reader since graduating and this is my favorite issue yet! From the analysis of hate speech in America to a look at Emergency Medicine on the date of the fateful rally, this issue made two things clear: (1) how compassionate UVA alums are and how prepared they are to face the challenges of the modern era, and (2) how well the UVA faculty stands to be a voice of reason on modern issues. This issue made me feel confident that in an era of uncertainty and unrest, UVA alumni are equipped with the leadership skills and commitment to service that will help them be a force for meaningful change. … Great work!

Kelsey Kerle-O’Brien Pramik (Col ’11)
Boston, Massachusetts


Emergency Medicine »

My critique is regarding two articles, one titled “Emergency Medicine” and the other discussing the emergency department response to the riots in August. I am an emergency medicine (EM) physician, and as such I was surprised to find that the first article was not actually about EM or EM physicians, but rather about disaster medicine [during Hurricane Harvey] and an oncologist.  While the article was very interesting and its subject matter important, the title was not appropriate. Similarly, the second article about the emergency department care following the events in August contained several first-hand accounts from emergency department staff, a trauma surgeon and administrators, but at no point was an EM physician or resident mentioned or interviewed.

While I imagine it was certainly not intended as such, from the perspective of an EM physician, both of these oversights were a bit jarring and could be perceived by some as insulting.  EM has fought for many decades to be seen as the legitimate and respected specialty that it is today, but within the larger house of medicine, its practitioners have had to fight long and hard to be seen as more than triage doctors and for our specialty to be viewed as a respected career choice rather than something settled for or as a stepping stone to a subspecialty job.

Joan Noelker (Col ’04)
St. Louis, Missouri


In Memoriam »

Your last issue brought me the wistful news of University professor and dean emeritus Alexander Sedgwick’s death. I remember and admire, then as now, Dean Sedgwick.

With charm, wit, and erudition, he punctuated the halcyon days as Fellow of the then-nascent, and first, residential college, today’s Brown College on Monroe Hill, where I met him and his gracious and eloquent wife, the scholar and administrator Charlene M. Sedgwick.

Later, while in graduate school—where brilliant Frenchmen never missed an opportunity to belittle their students—I cherished his nobility and savoir-faire.

As an undergraduate, I missed his highly sought-after survey course in European intellectual history but relished his history of France. There, he bemoaned his own travails in chronicling the Arnauld Family—his magnum opus—and once jauntily broadcast to all my classmates that I had just returned from Charleston, S.C., and a service commemorating the 303rd anniversary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Coincidentally, the descendants of those same Huguenots, expulsed then by Louis XIV, became my neighbors in Geneva, whence I declared Oct. 22 (1685) Dean Sedgwick Day.

Alan N.A. Ipekian (Col ’90)
Lakeview, Ontario, Canada


Winter 2017 Correction
Harvey “Blair” Farinholt (Col ’60 L/M) was from Gloucester, Virginia. An In Memoriam notice in the Winter 2017 issue contained incorrect information. We regret the error.


Jefferson’s Secular Vision »

Thomas Jefferson certainly did not believe there should be “no place for a Christian place of worship,” either on the Grounds or in the U.S., but rather that a truly liberal government should be secular, but that does not extend to the people. Indeed, it’s odd that the author fails to note that, according to Jefferson’s philosophy, all men are created equal precisely because of their having been created by God— “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” To suggest that Mr. Jefferson equated a secular government with a secular people is to miss the point, probably to comply with current political fads. The novel yet enduring experiment in governance spearheaded by Mr. Jefferson was to protect religious liberty, not to banish it from the Grounds.

John Graziadei (Law ’97)
Milan, Italy


Being intellectually sympathetic to Jefferson’s views on religion and his insistence that the University be and remain fundamentally secular, I have always felt uncomfortable with the presence on the Grounds of the University Chapel, and not just because I think it is architecturally hideous, totally out of keeping with Jefferson’s neoclassical concept of the Rotunda, the Lawn and the adjacent areas. If the University is to be truly a secular institution, then there is no place for a Christian place of worship within its bounds. Moreover, the presence of such a chapel must surely raise the question of how the University is to respond to a demand, perhaps increasingly inevitable, for a mosque or synagogue or temple to be erected. Thus, to be true to the founder’s secular ideals, the rational, “reasonable” solution for the neo-Gothic structure adjacent to the Rotunda, which he would never have approved, is for it to be dismantled.

Philip Hurst (Law ’80)
Zahara de la Sierra, Andalusia, Spain


Going Out on Top »

In this day and age, when 55 percent of the students at the University are women, only one of the six Class of 2018 student leaders you identified is a woman? I am disappointed that you could not have dug deeper into the student leadership to have identified a more representative group to profile.

Karen Oliver
Falls Church, Virginia


Quests & Answers (Fall) »

I was excited to see that the cover of the Fall 2017 issue, titled “Eureka! R&D Around Grounds and the Globe,” promised a focus on the research of UVA’s excellent faculty. Upon reading the article, I was disappointed to find that it was only four pages long, with about half that space occupied by ornamental illustrations. The following article, “Griddle Me This,” devoted six pages to the “Grillswith,” which is apparently two donuts and a scoop of ice cream. How can it be that a piece about a confection warrants half again as much space as the cover story on research at UVA? As a scientist and a Wahoo, I implore Virginia Magazine to allot more coverage to the work of the University’s professors.

Sean Edington (Col ’09)
Austin, Texas


How Lawnies Are Made (Fall) »

Not being an alum, I assumed Lawnies were selected based exclusively on academic merit. I have to say I’m not as impressed with Lawnies as I was before reading the article. This could explain some of the profanity I’ve seen on Lawn doors. While I stand with those who are against hatred, I believe students at a prestigious university should be able to express themselves in a more civilized manner.  Some would opine that this posting of profane speech demonstrates a lack of advanced intellect. I like to think UVA students are better than that.

Thomas Owens
South Prince George, Virginia


Period Pieces (Fall) »

Thank you for including the painting on the roof tin of the Rotunda burning that used to hang in my Grandfather Elmer I.  Carruthers home at 24 East Range. My grandfather used to share tales of the fire that circulated around the University. My father, Thomas M. Carruthers (Col 1924), donated the tin to the University.

The Rev. Carol Carruthers Sims (Educ ’75, ’79)
Keswick, Virginia


Streak Show (Spring) »

Recently Virginia Magazine published an article titled “Streak Show” and subtitled “A tradition that’s still cool but often chilly.”

The article, both by what it included and what it did not include, left readers with the impression that streaking the Lawn is a cute and endearing 50-year-old tradition of the University. The article described the practice as “tantamount to a graduation requirement.” It even included a “Streaking How-To.”

A quote from University of Virginia Police Department Officer Ben Rexrode left the impression that police would turn a blind eye to streakers and simply “remind them that it is still against the law, and that we want them to put their clothes on and move on.”

The article left the impression that the worst that might happen would be to have a spotlight shown on you or be hit with some snowballs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Streaking the Lawn is a sexual offense that as an adult can result in prosecution and being forced to register as a sexual offender for the rest of your life. It is particularly tragic when education majors get caught and prosecuted, as they may never be allowed to work with children.

The article also disparaged the dangers of having clothes stolen, spotlights shown, photographs taken, or fishing line strung between trees.

Sexual offenders having a little fun is not cool and certainly should not be celebrated by a university alumni association magazine. … I suggested that they should apologize for the article and remove it from their website. Instead they invited me to write this letter. But publishing this letter is not sufficient. The editors at Virginia Magazine were wrong to promote the assumption that anyone should look the other way for underage drinking or sexual offenses.

David John Marotta


Class Notes »

Aloha. I guess it is a sign of old age when there are no Class Notes for the ’50s, only In Memoriam. I am sure there are quite a number of us who are alive and well and still doing things worthy of note. Oh well, guess I better draft my obituary.

Travis O. Thompson (Com ’57)
Wailea, Hawaii