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University of Virginia

The University of Virginia is an institute of higher learning in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded by former President Thomas Jefferson in 1821, although the first classes did not meet until March, 1825. Until his death in the following year, Jefferson hosted Sunday dinners at his home in nearby Monticello for students and faculty, among them Edgar Allan Poe.

The University, unlike many other Southern schools, stayed open through the American Civil War. In March 1865, Union General George Armstrong Custer marched troops into Charlottesville. Faculty and community leaders convinced him to spare the University. Union troops camped on the Lawn and ravaged many of the Pavilions but, without any bloodshed, left four days later.

On October 27, 1895, the school's Rotunda Annex burned to the ground (with the help of a zealous faculty member who thought throwing dynamite on the fire might keep it from spreading.) University officials swiftly approached celebrity architect Stanford White to rebuild the Rotunda. White took the charge further, redesigning the Rotunda interior, adding three buildings to the foot of the Lawn, and designing a Presidentís House.

For more than one hundred years, the University of Virginia had been all white and all male. It was not until 1920 that the University agreed that women over twenty years of age could enroll in graduate programs. Not until 1970, though, under the pressure of a pending federal court suit filed by four female high school seniors, did the College of Arts & Sciences accept women freely into first-year classes, making the University of Virginia fully coeducational.

Supported by the NAACP, African-American lawyer Gregory Swanson sought and won admission to the Universityís law program in 1950. In 1951 Walter N. Ridley left his position as a psychology professor at Virginia State University[?] and soon became the first African-American graduate of the University, receiving a doctorate in education in 1953.

In 1976, in concert with the bicentennial of the United States, the Rotunda was returned to Jeffersonís original design. Renovated according to plans from the 1800s, a three-story Rotunda opened on Jefferson's birthday, April 13, 1976. To commemorate the anniversary of Americaís independence, Britainís Queen Elizabeth II strolled the University of Virginia Lawn and lunched in the Dome Room of the Rotunda, one of five American sites she visited publicly.

In 1993, U.S. News and World Report[?] ranked the University as America's best public university. It has remained at the top of that list ever since, five times since named top public university and every other year vying for that top slot with the University of California at Berkeley or the University of Michigan.

The University's sports teams are called the Cavaliers. The teams participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

University of Virginia Athletics website (http://virginiasports.ocsn.com/index-main)
University of Virginia home page (http://www.virginia.edu/index)



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