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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Virginia, University of

< The American Cyclopædia (1879)

VIRGINIA, University of, an institution of learning in Albemarle co., Virginia, 1½ m. W. of Charlottesville. The name of the post office is the same as that of the institution. In 1818 the general assembly voted an annual appropriation of $15,000 to endow and support the university, which was chartered in 1819 and opened in 1824. Its organization, plan of government, and system of instruction are due to Thomas Jefferson, who in the inscription prepared by himself for his tomb preferred to be remembered as the “author of the Declaration of Independence and of the statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and father of the university of Virginia.” The government of the university is vested in a board of visitors composed of a rector and eight members. The visitors are appointed every fourth year by the governor of the state, and they select the rector from their own number. The office of rector was first held by Mr. Jefferson, and after his death successively by James Madison, Chapman Johnson, and J. C. Cabell. The present rector (1876) is R. G. H. Kean.

AmCyc Virginia University of - Rotunda.jpg

The Rotunda.

The affairs of the institution are immediately administered by the faculty, who are appointed by the board of visitors. The chairman of the faculty is selected annually by the board from the faculty, and performs most of the duties of president of the university. The professors are paid in part by salaries ($1,000 each), and in part by tuition fees from pupils who attend their several schools. Besides the plan of government, the substitution of a chairman of the faculty for a permanent president, and the mode of remunerating professors, the chief distinguishing features of the university are its organization into independent schools and the system of conferring degrees for proficiency in any one school or in a number of schools collectively. No general curriculum is prescribed. Students may select for each year such schools and as many as they wish to attend, but in general they are advised to limit themselves to three. In the academic department each one is required to attend at least three, unless permitted by the faculty to take fewer. In some of the schools the course of study occupies three years; in several the time is less. The mode of instruction is by lectures and text books, with daily oral examinations. There are also semi-annual examinations in writing. Discipline is sought chiefly by appeal to each student's sense of honor. Each school is placed under the charge of a professor; in several there are one or more assistant instructors. The schools in operation are as follows: 1, Latin; 2, Greek; 3, modern languages; 4, moral philosophy; 5, history, general literature, and rhetoric; 6, mathematics; 7, natural philosophy (including mineralogy and geology); 8, applied mathematics, engineering, and architecture; 9, analytical and agricultural chemistry; 10, natural history, experimental and practical agriculture; 11, comparative anatomy, physiology, and surgery; 12, anatomy and materia medica; 13, medical jurisprudence, obstetrics, and practice of medicine; 14, chemistry and pharmacy; 15, common and statute law; 16, equity, mercantile and international, constitutional and civil law, and government. The school year begins on Oct. 1, and continues without interruption until the Thursday before the 4th of July. The degrees conferred by the university after written examination are academic and professional. The former are: 1, that of a proficient, conferred for satisfactory attainments in certain studies which do not constitute a full school; 2, graduate in a school, conferred for satisfactory attainments in the leading subjects of instruction in any school; 3, bachelor of letters, conferred upon students who have graduated in the schools of ancient and modern languages, moral philosophy, and history and literature; 4, bachelor of science, conferred upon students who have graduated in the schools of mathematics, natural philosophy, and general chemistry, and have made certain attainments in mineralogy and geology, applied mathematics, and analytical chemistry; 5, bachelor of arts, obtained by graduates in the schools of Latin, Greek, general chemistry, moral philosophy, and French or German, who have made certain attainments in mathematics, physics, and history and literature; 6, master of arts of the university of Virginia, conferred upon students who have graduated in the Latin, Greek, French, and German languages, pure mathematics, natural philosophy, general chemistry, moral philosophy, and history and literature, and who have passed satisfactory general examinations in review on all the studies of these schools. The candidate for the degree of master of arts is also required to prepare an essay on some subject of literature or science. The professional degrees are: 1, bachelor of law, conferred upon those who have graduated in both schools of law; 2, doctor of medicine; 3, civil engineer; 4, mining engineer; 5, civil and mining engineer. In conferring degrees no requirement is made as to length of residence at the university. No honorary degrees are conferred. The annual tuition fees of academic students attending three schools amount to $75, exclusive of the matriculation and library fee of $30; students in law, $80; civil engineering (three schools), $100; medicine, $110. The aggregate necessary expenses of academic students, exclusive of text books, clothing, &c., range from $271 to $391 a year. Clergymen and indigent students preparing for the ministry may attend any of the schools without paying fees to the professors. In 1875 the annual state appropriation for the university was increased to $30,000, in consideration of which it will receive in the academic schools, free of charge for tuition, any Virginia student over 18 years of age, who upon examination is found to be prepared to profit by the instruction he seeks to obtain. Prior to 1875 the number of state beneficiaries was 50. They were appointed by the faculty, and received tuition and the use of rooms free of charge. Eleven scholarships, entitling the holders to instruction for one year without payment of matriculation or tuition fees, are open by competitive examination to students from any state. There are also 40 farmers' scholarships, providing free tuition for two years in certain schools whose studies relate to scientific and practical agriculture. The department of agriculture was established in 1869 by means of the gift of $100,000 made by Samuel Miller of Lynchburg. In 1875-'6 there were in the university 17 instructors and 330 students. The total number of matriculates was about 15,000. The library contains 36,000 volumes.