Trunk Show/McGuffey Ash

In 1989, I was a soon-to-be double ’Hoo. When I saw that the McGuffey ash was coming down, I dragged a few friends and we sneaked into Pavilion IX. I grabbed a wedge, in part as a reminder of my year in 39 West Lawn, in part as a reminder of the rich history of the University, and in part as a way to connect to William McGuffey. Nearly 30 years later, your article reminded me that it’s not the tree but everything that happened under it that is important.

Eric Mazur (Col ’87, Grad ’89)
Norfolk, Virginia


Thank you for this article, which was absolutely transporting. It reminded me how much I loved the landscape of UVA, and how much I love autumn. What a treasure our environment is. Thank you to those who seek to preserve and sustain it.

Holly Hurlburt (Col ’93)
Carbondale, Illinois


My mom remembers going to visit her grandparents who lived in the Booker House across from the Yulan magnolia. She remembers playing on and under it as a child in the 1950s.

Ellie Montague


Former Environmental Science grad student Jim Dooley grabbed one of the branches when the McGuffey ash came down in 1990. From cross-sections of the branch, my dad fashioned wooden coasters that now adorn the coffee table in our house.

Randy Chambers (Grad ’90)
Williamsburg, Virginia


I began my UVA grad program in planning in 1976, coming from California. My first elective class was Tree Identification because UVA offered such a rich diversity of plants beyond those I knew in the West. Whenever possible, I did my homework under and around some magnificent specimen. I will have to lament the naked Rotunda without my favorite magnolias whose scale will not be replaced for a very long time.

Don Gaston (Arch ’78)
Ukiah, California


My father, Edwin M. Betts, was a biology professor who loved the trees at our University. He would have approved of this outstanding article. I approve of it also. Thanks!

Edwin Betts (Educ ’53, ’63)
Petersburg, Virginia

Carla’s Playbook

Thank you for introducing us to UVA’s new Athletic Director, Carla Williams. I’m sure I join many in welcoming her to the University community and wishing her success in her new role. However, I do have to question the decision to invest more in the football team, as Ms. Williams suggests. In light of the growing evidence linking repetitive hits to the head—an unavoidable occurrence in football—to the dramatic and often tragic mood and behavior changes associated with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the University needs to seriously consider whether we should even have a football team at all. If the purpose of our University includes developing “the full potential of talented students,” doesn’t the institution have some duty to protect its talented students from an activity that likely limits one’s full potential?

Philip J. Pyles (Col ’94)
Cincinnati, Ohio


It is sad to see a good public university spending so much money on sports, with such an emphasis on trying to make a profit on football and basketball.

How many professors could UVA hire and how many academic scholarships could the University fund with the money it spends on football and basketball coaches’ salaries? How many academic buildings and dormitories could be remodeled or built for the price of new sports facilities? How does UVA accept corruption and low academic standards within the NCAA (such as the academic scandal at UNC)? I fear that the sports tail is wagging the academic dog.

Laurence Brunton (Grad ’76)
San Diego, California


What a bunch of morose people complaining about football. We need a great football program and thank God it has a fine Athletic Director and coach. Improvements are coming. Complainers, go hide under your rock.

Pete Topken (Com ’62)
Greensboro, Georgia


I’m disappointed that wrestling was ignored in the final assessment as Steve Garland, entering his 13th year, approaches the UVA record of dual match wins for a coach (158, by George Edwards, who retired in the early ’90s after 25 years).

David Wilkerson (Educ ’06)
Gordonsville, Virginia

Pardon Our French

Paris 1919 may have been the reunion to end all reunions (and I certainly enjoyed Ernie Gates’ [Fall 2018] article) but close wartime competitors were the alumni/ae reunions in Morocco in 1943 and Italy in 1944 sponsored by the 8th Evacuation Hospital and heavily attended by UVA personnel from the 45th General Hospital.

The 8th Evacuation Hospital was a University of Virginia Unit from Charlottesville and the 45th General Hospital was a Medical College of Virginia Unit from Richmond. These units were composed of doctors, dentists, nurses, technicians, dietitians, physical therapists, and orderlies from those hospitals. They were located close enough to each other in both Morocco and Italy that visits between the two could be arranged. Also, many of the Medical College personnel had attended the University.

There is much information about the Founder’s Day Celebrations in Byrd Stuart Leavell’s book The 8th Evac. A History of the University of Virginia Hospital Unit in World War II and Dr. Alton D. Brashear’s book From Lee to Bari: The History of the Forty-fifth General Hospital 19401945.

My father was a physician in the 45th General Hospital and associated with the Medical College of Virginia but did not attend the University and did not attend these reunions, but having grown up in Richmond and being a student at the medical school in Charlottesville, I certainly knew a number of these wartime reunion attendees, many of whom taught me or were my physicians as I was growing up.

John J. Funkhouser (Med ’63)
West Falmouth, Massachusetts

Ryan Hits the Grounds Running

I think President Ryan will be a credit to the University. I wrote him a note welcoming him, and recommending a couple of excellent books (I remembered he is an avid reader) and despite a hectic schedule, he took time to reply.

Howard Swayne (Col ’95)


I could not have been happier with the appointment of President Ryan. In my four years on the Grounds I never once saw President Shannon out walking around the Grounds welcoming new students to the University let alone at Scott Stadium doing the coin toss for the opening season home football game.

God bless you, President Ryan, for bringing a refreshing presence to Mr. Jefferson’s University.

Warren J. Hall (Engr ’72)
Frederick, Maryland


Congratulations to James Ryan from those of us as far away as Australia. His plan is impressive and suggests good things ahead for the University. The choices of provost and COO are excellent and indicate that sound people are being chosen to implement the strategy. Give this some time and we will all be proud of what is being achieved.

Adam Johnson (Darden ’77)
Woollahra, Australia

Miller Center Appointment Draws Controversy

Do we not remember the invitations to George Lincoln Rockwell (US Nazi Party) and Gus Hall (US Communist Party) to speak on The Grounds in 1960/1961? As a naïve but curious first-year, I attended each; neither became in any way violent. I went because I began my four-year journey into the institution reflecting Mr. Jefferson’s vision as part of my search for knowledge. Please advise the two professors [who severed ties with the Miller Center] that UVA is not only better than this but remains a more truly liberal beacon of what a true “institution of higher learning” should continue to be.

R. Russell Beers (Col ’64)
Loveland, Colorado


I was pleasantly surprised at the Miller Center director and CEO, William Antholis, as well as the new president, James Ryan, standing firm with the appointment. Too many colleges are bending in these areas. Political views should not be discriminatory. Even among the ivory halls, there is dissent between the educators, the department chair, the president or the board at times (recall 2012?). The two history teachers who severed ties with the Miller Center should sever ties with the University. Clearly they are extremely partisan and obviously not open for differing views in their classes where they are in a position of authority. That behavior does not promote the University’s founding ideas of open discussion, debate and subsequent learning.

Mark Miller (Engr ’95)
Charlotte, North Carolina


The problem surrounding the appointment of Marc Short and the statement of President James E. Ryan wherein he affirms our core belief in engaging with those with whom we disagree falls short of the larger question and higher standard to which our community agrees and has done so for some 175 years: We do not tolerate those who are inveterate and unapologetic liars, as President Trump has shown himself to be. Therefore, the question for Mr. Short, the University and the Miller Center is, first and foremost, “How many times did you confront President Trump when he misrepresented the truth, and did, in fact, lie or ask you to lie?”

Were Mr. Short to answer, “At every turn in every way,” then he would enjoy my full endorsement. Were [he] to say otherwise I would counsel him to seek employment elsewhere.

D. C. Montague (Col ’68)
Chattanooga, Tennessee


Letter writer Leigh Middleditch’s proposed one-word amendment of the Honor Committee Constitution (Letters, Fall 2018)—by deleting the word “permanently” from the phrase “exclude permanently from student status”—is progressive and conservative at the same time. It elegantly preserves an invaluable principle while introducing the transcendent virtues of redemption and mercy. I could not agree more.

Walter Bardenwerper (Col ’73, Law ’76)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

An Econ Icon

Kudos to Mr. Elzinga and to his machine: Never has such a little machine brought so much truth and help to so many needy underclassmen!

John Mathieu (Col ’69)
Fort Payne, Alabama


Please accept this strong request that you revise your reference to the Grounds as “Grounds.”

My recent letter to President Ryan presents the case: The word grounds by itself is appropriate when referring to what is left after the good flavor has been extracted from coffee beans.

My years at the University built an appreciation of the values of tradition and the importance of reverence for place. While those attending other schools used the word “campus,” at UVA we learned to honor, respect, and refer to our place as “the Grounds.”

While the words campus and grounds can mean similar territories, they should not be juxtaposed when applied to the buildings and grounds of the University of Virginia. UVA is a campus and there should be no problem in using that term to describe it as such. If your mind says “campus,” then be comfortable in saying that. However, tradition holds that the word “grounds” when used in reference to the University should always be capitalized and be preceded by the marking article “the.” Here, as says, “the” is used to mark a proper noun … or place as something well-known or unique.

The Grounds of the University of Virginia are such a unique place.

Paul R. V. Pawlowski (Arch ’65)
New Bedford, Massachusetts

Fall 2018 Corrections

John Macfarlane (Darden ’79) served on the UVA Board of Visitors, not the board of the Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative.  The story “Ramps Tilt Lawn Toward Better Access” misidentified his post.

President Jim Ryan’s Chief of Staff Margaret Grundy (Col ’06, Darden ’15) earned an education doctorate from University of Pennsylvania. The story “Ryan Hits the Grounds Running” incorrectly called it a Ph.D.

The graduation year for Diane Takata Powell (Com ’97) was misstated in the Letters section.