1 Casteen calls it quits after 20 years
John Casteen’s retirement, which he announced on June 12 and which will be effective in August, will end a successful, yet controversial, reign. Though he’s a Hoo to the bone—he got his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University, and was dean of admission—he will mostly be remembered for his legacy of fundraising and empire-building. He has led two major fundraising campaigns: the first in 2001 for $1.43 billion, and the current $3 billion Capital Campaign. Additionally, UVA moved to the top tier of the U.S. News and World Report rankings under his direction and became the area’s largest landowner with 4,766 acres, to boot. For 20 years, it’s been Casteen’s world. We’ve just been living in it.
2 UVA scientists find new ring on Saturn
Astronomy researcher Anne Verbiscer and her team made the discovery of a lifetime when they found a new ring on Saturn. Reported in October, the new ring is 13 million kilometers in radius and is the largest planetary ring in the solar system. Dubbed the Phoebe Ring, it’s composed of debris from Saturn’s moon Phoebe.
3 Al Groh sidelined for $4M
Al Groh’s Cavaliers managed to finish 3-9 overall—the worst record since 1982—and 2-6 in the ACC. After nine years as head football coach, Groh was asked to clear his locker and go—with a $4.33 million going-away present. That’s what you get for driving attendance down from 60,000 in 2007 to 48,000 in 2009.
4 Hiring freeze, budget cuts cripple UVA
Thanks to the recession, reductions in state funding for the university amounted to $51.1 million in 2009 (but $20 million in federal stimulus money kept UVA from drowning completely). And the cherry on the sundae: The state now supports only 6 percent of the budget for all divisions and 10 percent of the academic division—an all-time low. Trying to avoid layoffs, the University instead issued a hiring freeze. To make matters worse, if possible, the moneyman in charge of putting UVA back on track is leaving at the end of 2010. Leonard Sandridge, UVA chief operating officer, will retire shortly after President John Casteen.
5 Admission Dean Blackburn dies
When John “Jack” Blackburn died in January, after a struggle with cancer, UVA lost one of its most beloved figures. For 24 years, Blackburn helped shape the admission process at UVA and will be remembered as an advocate for increased diversity. Two among Blackburn’s many victories: the creation of AccessUVA, one of the most aggressive financial aid programs in the country, and the abolition of early-decision admissions.
6 Staff on New HR plan: "Meh"
UVA’s Human Resources efforts to change the employee benefit system, from the existing state-funded plan to one uniquely UVA’s own, didn’t get what you might call a warm reception from the staff. On January 1, the new University Human Resources (HR) plan went into effect, and out of 4,400 University employees who could potentially switch, a measly 97 actually did it. That’s about 2 percent. Not that there’s exactly an activist mentality at work among UVA staff. The Staff Union at UVA (SUUVA) shuttered operations this year due to lack of membership.
7 Playboy studies co-eds’ anatomy
Playboy came a-knockers, uh, knocking, and UVA co-eds lined up to answer the call. For its traditional “Girls of the ACC” issue, the skinmag interviewed and test-shot roughly 20 Lady Hoos. In the end, Jenna Arianna made it into the pages of Playboy along with 15 topless beauties from the league.
8 Bono’s footprint almost as big as his mouth
In October U2’s 360º tour, rolled into town—all 120 trucks of it. In a statement of global proportions, Bono and the band managed to both transmit a message of Desmond Tutu-sanctioned worldwide peace to the 60,000 in attendance for Scott Stadium’s third-ever rock concert and to create a colossal carbon footprint. (Is that what academics call a principle of contradiction?) Each show on the 42-stop worldwide tour produced 20,117.5 tons of CO2, with the overall estimated carbon footprint per show an approximate 457.2 tons.
9 Men’s soccer tops NCAA
While one football story was dismal, another UVA football story was triumphant. The UVA men’s soccer team won its sixth NCAA national championship in December, defeating top-ranked Akron 3-2 on penalty kicks. It was UVA’s first championship win since 1994.
Also this year…
10 Deborah Eisenberg wins the MacArthur Genius grant
On September 22, the MacArthur Foundation granted a five-year, $500,000 prize to Deborah Eisenberg, a star in UVA’s creative writing firmament.
• Tony Bennett started his first season as the men’s basketball head coach;
• Eccentric, smutty filmmaker John Waters peppered his Arts Keynote speech at the Virginia Film Festival, in November with references to “analingus”;
• The remodeled UVA Art Museum reopened;
• Harry Harding became the first dean of the Batten School of Leadership.
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