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Letters to the Editor

Women at UVA

I enjoyed reading your article [“A History of Women at UVA,” Spring 2011], however I was disappointed that there was no mention of women in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. I have always been curious about the first women and first black women to enter the Engineering School. When I entered in 1977, it was still very much a male-dominated area. Thornton Hall was a world within itself, where non-engineering students dared not tread. It would be great to see engineering share such an important part of the University’s history.

Jane Seay Wimbush (Engr ’81)
Chesapeake, Va.


You did not profile any graduates from the School of Engineering. As a female graduate of the Engineering School who works in the profession, it is common to attend seminars or similar functions and be one of two women out of 50 or 100 individuals. This oversight in the article does a disservice to all the female engineering graduates who are still trailblazing in a profession that has a long way to go.

Donna Taylor Adams (Engr ’99, ’01)
Midlothian, Va.


[I’m] happy to have been one of those 450 women in 1970. I had already completed two years at Ohio State, gotten married to a Duke ne’er-do-well who had joined the Army for his proverbial kick in the pants. After he served a year in Vietnam, UVA was kind enough to admit him to the School of Engineering. Thank you, UVA, not so much for admitting me, but for taking a chance on my husband.

Nina VandeWater (Col ’72)
Address unavailable


From September 1969 to May 1971, I was a graduate student in the planning program in the Architecture School. The difference in walking across campus in the fall of 1969, when there were no undergraduate ladies, to the fall of 1970, when there were 150 admitted, was so noticeable. At that time, almost [a third] of the student body was graduate students, and there were many ladies among them but the addition of undergraduate ladies forever changed UVA.

Angela Harper (Arch ’71)
Henrico, Va.


As a nursing grad in 1960, coming in with advanced standing to earn my B.S., many of my classes were in the humanities. I was married with a small child and just wanted to continue my education after my R.N. The men were respectful and helpful, but the faculty had much to be desired. In my weekly chemistry lab lecture, the teacher addressed the class every time as “Lady and Gentlemen,” then received a loud laugh—every week!

I am happy to have had a good education from such a prominent university, but my memories have much to be desired.

Elsie S. Craig (Nurs ’60)
Hockessin, Del.


I was an undergraduate at UVA when the initial class of first-year women was accepted in 1970. The rumor on the Grounds at that time was that University officials had applied the same “yield rate” (percentage of accepted students who actually enroll) to women that they had used historically for men. The rumor went on to state that, as a result of their historic status, the number of women who actually chose to enroll at UVA was much higher than what had been predicted, thus resulting in tremendous overcrowding in first-year dorms.

I always wondered if there was any real truth to this rumor?

Carmine Scavo (Col ’71)
Greenville, N.C.

Ernest Ern, who was dean of admission during the transition to full coeducation, explains: “Understandably, we really didn’t know what to expect from the yield of offers of admission to women in that first coeducational class, so we planned on a return similar to that we received from male applicants. That proved to be right on the mark. The previous class, which entered the University in 1969, totaled 1,528 (male) enrollees. In 1970, 2,005 men and women enrolled, a number that was planned for, including 450 women. The following year we added an additional 550 women to a class size of 2,162, once again right on projection. The demand for University housing experienced a major turn-around, and it took a number of years to catch up with that demand by building new dorms.” —Ed.


I appreciated the article “A History of Women at UVA,” but I found the lens to be a bit rosy. I was in the transfer class of 1973, and I found that most of the boys resented ambitious girls who were more interested in academic study than admiring them. That said, I made some wonderful male and female friends. I also cherished the superb pedagogy and impressive faculty that inspire me to this day in my teaching at the University of Washington.

Laura Kastner (Col ’75, Grad ’77, ’79)
Seattle, Wash.


The beautiful young woman on the front page of the Cavalier Daily [page 23, Spring 2011] who is in the process of moving into Webb dormitory is my wonderful wife and best friend of 39 years, Martha Sandlin Walton (Col ’74). We first met about three days later. Her hair is a little shorter now, but she is still as wonderful and beautiful as she was in 1970.

D. Gibson Walton (Col ’72)
Houston, Texas


I was disappointed to see no mention of Charlotte H. Scott, professor of commerce and education. When she came to the University in 1976, she and her husband, Nathan, were the first African-American faculty members to be appointed to tenured positions. Before coming to Charlottesville, she was the first African-American woman to be a vice president in the Federal Reserve Bank. Scott was widely regarded as a pioneering scholar, and her contributions to the life of our University deserve wider recognition.

Kathryn Laughon (Nurs ’98, ’99)
Associate Professor, School of Nursing
Charlottesville, Va.


I graduated in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts & Sciences. I am a woman but neither the daughter nor the wife of a faculty member. Women were allowed to enroll in their junior year in any undergraduate program granting a B.S. degree, and I completed my B.S. in chemistry at the University, having spent my first two years at another college. I then continued at the University, earning my Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1972. I could have provided a few anecdotes about life at Mary Munford Hall and in the classroom where I was most often the only female. After moving to Pennsylvania with my husband, Walter Frank Lee (Grad ’69), I began teaching chemistry at Bucks County Community College and am completing my 36th year as a full-time faculty member.

Michaeleen Peipon Lee (Col ’67, Grad ’72)
Southampton, Pa.


I read with interest your article on the history of women at UVA. While reflecting on many of the positive stories of the early pioneers, there were other experiences that were not mentioned. I attended the University from 1967 to 1969, receiving an M.A. in sociology at the end of those two years. I lived in Mary Munford for one of those years. My dorm mates included the only woman in the business school and the handful of women, like myself, in the graduate school outside of education and nursing. During this period, there were also just a handful of women in the Law School, whom I met in a class I took in criminology at the Law School. Although we were often reminded that we were fortunate to be at the University, it was generally not an engaging and supportive place for women. I was told directly that I would not be welcomed in the Ph.D. program “because this advanced degree is wasted on a woman.” I was harassed by male faculty and by male colleagues, and I left after two years believing that I was unworthy of graduate education and a professional career.

As I look upon my years at UVA, I know that my own cultural naiveté and age contributed to my limited effectiveness as a student. Oddly, I grew in those years as I learned what it meant to be a minority, and that experience has served me well personally and professionally.

Lucille Howell Sansing (Grad ’69)
San Carlos, Calif.


One area that was not covered was the evolving role of women in the musical life of the University.

As the historian of the Virginia Glee Club Alumni & Friends Association, the earliest reference we have to women of the University community participating in Glee Club performances comes in 1944, when a “Madrigal Group” made up of women from the University joined the Glee Club in its fourth annual Christmas concert. The Madrigal Group lasted two seasons, disbanding after the end of World War II. Except for a brief reinstatement in the 1950s, there is no further word about a women’s choir until the formation of the University of Virginia Women’s Chorus in 1974.

It would be great if any of the original members of that Madrigal Group could share their stories.

Tim Jarrett (Col ’94)
Springfield, Mass.

Who’s on the Cover?

Any idea who the young woman is on the cover of the current issue? I’m really wondering if I might not be the student! That was a summer when I was taking a number of graduate courses in the English department. Our tiny apartment was on Preston Place, and I made that walk between Wilson Hall and our apartment many times. So far, we’ve recognized facial features, the big aviator glasses and the little gold Gruen watch my husband gave me as a wedding gift.

Linda M. Mills (Grad ’77)
Charlottesville, Va.


I am certain that the woman in the chair on the cover of the Spring 2011 edition of Virginia Magazine is my wife, Linda M. Mills. In 1976, I was in Medical School here and she was working on her master’s degree in English, while working part time in the office of Dean [Robert D.] Cross. She spent a lot of time on the Lawn and vaguely remembers being photographed, though after 35 years memories fade.

Stacey Mills (Med ’77)
Charlottesville, Va.


When I received the Virginia Magazine Spring 2011 issue, I felt I knew the coed on the cover. Who is she? She looks like a girl I grew up with in Wilmington, Del., and she went to UVA in the fall of 1972 and graduated in 1976. I went to UVA in 1976 for graduate school and saw my friend when she returned to campus for a visit. I also thought my friend’s class of 1976 was the first class of females on campus, but according to your article I was mistaken. My friend, Karen Beck, passed away in 2002 from cancer, and if this is her in the picture, what a great tribute.

Susan Concklin Gosney (Grad ’77)
West Chester, Pa.

Thanks to our readers, the mystery of the Spring 2011 cover appears to have been solved. After enlarging a digital version of the image, the Millses identified a small scar that seems to confirm the identity of the cover model as Linda Mills. —Ed.

Medical Innovation

Bravo [“Building a Better Doctor,” Spring 2011]. [The new teaching methods are] a far cry from Dr. [Jan] Langman terrorizing the first-year anatomy class with abrupt demands to identify the insertion of the brachioradialis.

Mark Scott Smith (Med ’69)
Manzanita, Ore.


[This is] an extraordinary experiment written by someone who knows how to translate a challenging subject into lay terms. This has much broader application than the medical field. Thanks for writing about this, and congratulations to Susan Pollart (Med ’82) and others who have made this happen.

E. Franklin Dukes III (Col ’75)
Charlottesville, Va.


For some time, the Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute (allied with the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at UVA) has been using an open dialogue format for teaching leadership skills principles. “Debriefing” is a very important part of our learning experience.

Stephen Talley
Charlottesville, Va.


As an art museum educator for many years at UVA, I and my docents have been using these methods for 30 years with our visitors of all ages, from preschoolers to seniors. We have had tremendous success and are tremendously excited to see this methodology expand to many fields.

Jane Anne Young
Charlottesville, Va.

The Chapel

In his letter [Spring 2011] under the heading “Chapel View,” Jeffrey J.W. Baker (Col ’53) writes about, “Thomas Jefferson’s strong opposition concerning giving the slightest appearance of any state sponsorship of religion.” A closer reading of history demonstrates that Jefferson’s concern was related to the establishment and not the practice of religion. In his letter regarding “the wall of separation between church and state,” Jefferson was referring to the establishment of a national religion. This was a view he shared with Madison. Both, in fact, attended church services in Congress, and Jefferson, throughout his presidency, permitted services in executive branch buildings. Concerning the UVA Chapel, Jefferson would not have objected to its construction since from its beginning it was to be open to use by all.

F.C. Robert Hollmann (Col ’52, Law ’55)
Orange Park, Fla.

Easters Suits

T-shirt design for the final Easters Special Collections Library

Who remembers the ugly yellow T-shirts that everyone had to wear to get into the last official Easters party at Lambeth Field with the Skip Castro Band [Retrospect, Spring 2011]?

Dave Snow (Col ’83)
Winchester, Va.


I was there [at Easters] in 1976 with my now husband of 30 years. This was the one party we both will never forget.

Jayne Hammond (Com ’80)
Atlanta, Ga.

Battleship Missouri

The commanding officer of the new battleship USS Missouri [First Person, Spring 2011] was a former submarine officer, “Sunshine” Murray and CO of my dad in subs before World War II. Fleet Admiral William Halsey administered the swearing-in ceremony of the UVA NROTC Class of 1952, attired in blue dress uniform—most impressive to us.

USS Missouri was the last battleship to participate in any Pacific Fleet actions but was rushed to Tokyo to be the surrender platform to please the new president of the U.S. from Missouri, Harry Truman.

Knox Morrison (Col ’52)
Port Orange, Fla.

Sport Spin

The article about John Brenkus was informative. As a former soccer and baseball player, I was especially interested in understanding what makes a ball curve. Brenkus is correct in saying that the Magnus effect causes spinning balls to curve in flight. But he errs in stating that “faster air on one side of the ball creates higher air pressure.” Faster air creates lower air pressure. A good example is an airplane wing. The shape of the wing forces the air to flow faster over the upper surface of the wing. The resulting lower pressure allows the higher pressure on the underside of the wing to lift up the plane. In the case of the spinning ball, the faster air occurs on the side toward which the ball curves.

Rick Eskin (Col ’79)
Evanston, Ill.


I coached baseball from T-ball through American Legion and know how difficult it is to make a poor hitter a decent hitter and even a solid hitter into a great hitter. I now have a better appreciation of why this is such a challenge. I am even more impressed now when I stop to think about it that Ted Williams could do this four out of 10 times at the plate and claimed he could tell you what seam he hit.

John R. Jepsen (GSBA ’81)
Weston, Conn.

Stardust Matter

The Short Course article featuring Edward M. Murphy [“We Are Stardust,” Spring 2011] may, in fact, be a little too short. Despite the critical importance of atoms to our personal existence and well-being, it must be noted that they do not constitute “everything in the universe.” Our best current models of the universe suggest that atoms are actually a quite small portion of its total contents.

Ken Justice (Engr ’61)
Bogart, Ga.

Stanford Model

When I applied to Virginia in 1969, we took around 40-45 percent out-of-state students, in line with Mr. Jefferson’s idea of UVA being a meeting place for the best and the brightest from across the land [“Stanford Model,” Letters, Spring 2011]. At the same time the University of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia Tech all took 15 percent out of state. Now, we take 30 percent out of state, far more than any of the non-land grant public universities in other states. Does [anyone] really believe these out-of-state students to be far superior to native Virginians?

Virginia is not a private school, and modeling her after Stanford makes little more sense than after an Ivy League school. Among all the great institutions of higher learning, UVA is unique.

One thing UVA can do is make an education more affordable. Harvard and Yale have done away with loans as part of a financial aid package. Most of the Ivy League schools and Stanford now make the cost of an education virtually free to students whose parents earn less than $60,000. If we are to adhere to Mr. Jefferson’s desire to attract the best and brightest from across the nation, we must make it affordable.

J. Keith Contarino (Col ’74)
Marietta, Ga.

There’s no denying that the cost of higher education is on the rise across the country, and UVA is no exception. However, the University has been recognized by the Princeton Review for the third straight year as the country’s No. 1 “best value” among public colleges and universities.

“UVA has a long tradition of attracting the nation’s best and brightest minds,” the Princeton Review reports. “UVA seamlessly blends the academic advantages of the Ivy League with the social life and the price tag of a large state school.”

The rankings recognize institutions that combine outstanding academics with exceptional financial aid. AccessUVa meets 100 percent of need for all accepted students; this financial aid program provided $80.1 million in grants to approximately 31 percent of the undergraduate population in 2010-11. —Ed.

Special Professor

Lydia Gasman Les Yeux Du Monde

Lydia Csato Gasman taught art history at the University from 1981 to 2001. Having achieved scholarly fame for her work on the art of Pablo Picasso, she was also a legendary teacher. Attracted by her brilliant lectures and charismatic personality, students flocked to her classes. A profound and original thinker, whose probing and rigorous intellect led her to continuously increase, revise and refine her prodigious knowledge of the field, she never gave the same lecture twice.

Sadly, Professor Gasman died on Jan. 15, 2010, at the age of 84. However, her passionate engagement with and important contributions to modern studies remain vitally with us in the form of her research papers and books. As two of her former doctoral students, we are creating an archive of her work. To be included in the archive, we invite information, reminiscences, anecdotes, etc., relating to Gasman from her students or colleagues.

All letters or questions should be directed to Lyn Bolen Warren ( or Victoria Beck Newman ( or mailed to 841 Wolf Trap Road, Charlottesville VA 22911.

Victoria Beck Newman (Grad ’86, ’94)
Buffalo, N.Y.
Lyn Bolen Warren (Grad ’86, ’94)
Charlottesville, Va.