Casteen explains ‘State of the University’

As people filed into Old Cabell Hall to hear UVA President John T. Casteen III's annual State of the University address, each one received a document presumably from a student-usher. The paper was not a program as expected, but turned out to be a pamphlet entitled "A Student's Response to the State of the University Address."

Upon closer inspection readers were surprised to see the Living Wage Campaign had reared its head again. Last spring, the Living Wage Campaign was the most visible student-led activist group on grounds, culminating in a sit-in outside of Casteen's office that resulted in several student arrests. After failing to achieve their goal of a household-supporting wage for all UVA employees, the group had been relatively silent this fall.

Unlike last year, Casteen did not mention their efforts in his address.

"I have neither seen nor heard of this pamphlet or from that organization recently, and their national organization is changing their methods and what they are asking for," Casteen said.

This year, UVA's finances were at the front of the Casteen's mind due to recent legislation that calls for changes in the way the University operates. With the school receiving less aid from the government, UVA is forced to look elsewhere for funding and specifically toward endowment.

Touting UVA's recent achievements, Casteen said that UVA is the only university to have a "major rock star" make a sizable donation: the funding given by Dave Matthews and his family in honor of their father, the late John Matthews, a former UVA physics professor.

Casteen highlighted UVA's achievements in diversifying its student population with its AccessUVa program created by the Board of Visitors three years ago.

"With the class of 2010, this year's first year class, AccessUVa has helped 737 students attend UVA, with 171 students on full scholarships" said Casteen.

Unfortunately, it has not received the same results in diversifying the faculty, particularly lacking professors from Asian and Hispanic backgrounds.

"Clearly there's work to be done," Casteen said. "Students receive a better education from a diverse faculty."

Casteen addressed student safety and an "alarming number" of incidents this fall, including two cases of sexual assault on January 29.

"We're seeing two kinds of incidents: random acts of violence and crimes of opportunity," Casteen said. "In part because under the influence of alcohol, students are using poor judgement, this is true of everyone."

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1 comment

I am very disappointed that the Living Wage is still not being paid.