The University of Virginia (UVA, U.Va. or Virginia), is a research university founded by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson and located in Charlottesville, Virginia. UVA is known for its historic foundations, student-run honour code, and secret societies. UVA is labelled one of the original “Public Ivies,” a publicly funded university considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League.
Its initial Board of Visitors included U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Monroe was the sitting President of the United States at the time of UVA’s founding; Jefferson and Madison were the first two rectors. UVA was established in 1819, with its Academical Village and original courses of study conceived and designed by Jefferson. UNESCO designated UVA a World Heritage Site in 1987, an honour shared with nearby Monticello.
Since 1904, UVA has held membership in the Association of American Universities for research-focused institutions and was the first university of the American South to attain membership. The university is classified as Very High Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification and is considered its state’s flagship research university by the AAU and the College Board. The university is affiliated with 7 Nobel Laureates, and has produced seven NASA astronauts, seven Marshall Scholars, four Churchill Scholars, 29 Truman Scholars, and 51 Rhodes Scholars, the most of any state-affiliated institution in the U.S.
While UVA is a public university supported in part by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the university receives far more funding from private sources than public. Students come to attend the university in Charlottesville from all 50 states and 147 countries. UVA additionally operates the College at Wise in the far south-western corner of the state, and previously operated George Mason University and the University of Mary Washington as branch campuses until 1972.
Virginia’s athletic teams are known as the Cavaliers, and since 1953 have competed in the Atlantic Coast Conference of Division I of the NCAA. After winning an ACC-record three NCAA titles (the College Cup in soccer, the College World Series in baseball, and the NCAA Tennis Championships) in a single academic year, UVA was awarded the Capital One Cup for the top overall men’s sports program in the nation for 2015. The Cavaliers have won 31 national titles overall, including 23 in men’s sports. Counting only NCAA sanctioned championships UVA has won a total of 23 NCAA titles, with 16 in men’s sports, ranking first in the ACC.
UVA offers 48 bachelor’s degrees, 94 master’s degrees, 55 doctoral degrees, 6 educational specialist degrees, and 2 first-professional degrees (Medicine and Law) to its students. It has never bestowed honorary degrees. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation offers four-year full-tuition scholarships based on regional, international, and at-large competitions. Students are nominated by their high schools, interviewed, and then invited to weekend-long series of tests of character, aptitude, and general suitability. Approximately 3% of those nominated successfully earn the scholarship. Echols Scholars (College of Arts and Sciences) and Rodman Scholars (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences), which include 6-7% of undergraduate students, receive no financial benefits, but are entitled to special advisors, priority course registration, residence in designated dorms and fewer curricular constraints than other students.