Monday is Presidents Day in the United States. Originally established in 1885 as George Washington’s Birthday, it is now widely considered a day to reflect not just on the first president of the United States, but all those who have held the office.

Robert F. Bruner, professor and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, has not just reflected on these leaders, and not just for a day; he’s formally researched their qualities and delved into one of the most interesting facets of their leadership: general, prevalent optimism.

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University of Virginia economics professor James Harrigan is using more than 35 years of data to study economic inequality in the United States, seeking explanations and solutions for the rapidly widening chasm between the very rich and nearly everyone else.

His undergraduate course, “Economic Inequality,” helps students understand the nuances of the contentious topic, which found its way to the heart of national conversation in the recent presidential election.

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Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asked, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” She argued that Romeo’s surname, Montague – that of her family’s rival house – was a mere title with no real bearing on his “dear perfection” to her.

New research shows that public policy may benefit from the same untethering. A recent study by the University of Virginia’s Craig Volden suggests that lawmakers are more receptive to new policy proposals when they’ve been scrubbed of references to the rival “house,” or political party.

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In 1999, Aynne Kokas was an undergraduate student living in a film studio in Beijing that housed not only the studio, but a film academy and student dorms. There, she witnessed some early Sino-U.S. movie collaborations – an experience that eventually led her to become a leading expert in the field of Hollywood’s relations with China.

Now an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, Kokas has written a new book, “Hollywood Made in China,” an examination of that growing relationship and what it means for media in both countries.

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Editor’s Note: In a series of articles, UVA Today has covered the “First Year Project” at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, a collection of essays and videos created by presidential historians, expert scholars and experienced political veterans from both parties. The 10-volume project offers analysis and counsel on a wide range of issues facing the president in his first year, including crisis situations.

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You already know that coffee can wake you up in the morning. What you might not know is that your morning cup can also help men and women in a war-torn country halfway around the world put down their weapons and provide for their families.

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The University of Virginia’s Creative Writing Program concluded its series of three public events featuring Kapnick Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Junot Díaz with a Feb. 7 lecture by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. As with the previous reading and the conversation with  English assistant professor Njelle Hamilton, it was standing room only in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom.

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When Jessica Childress was a second-grader in Chesterfield, she would watch the evening news with her parents. There was a woman, she said, who kept appearing in the nightly broadcasts with Tom Brokaw. Her name was Janet Reno, President Clinton’s attorney general, and Childress wanted to know what she did.

So one evening, her father pulled down a book from the family’s World Book Encyclopedia series and she and her dad read about lawyers. That’s when Childress knew she wanted to be an attorney. But there were no lawyers in Childress’ family, so Reno was the only image she had.

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One student uses the collaborative courses to better understand the financial viability of the supersonic aircraft he dreams of engineering. Another plans to apply her new knowledge of engineering and manufacturing to conducting stock research when she joins a New York City equity firm after graduation.

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University of Virginia faculty members in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines will soon have the opportunity to enlist more support for using active-learning methods in their large introductory classes – with the help of undergraduate students.

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University of Virginia law students will gain practical experience working on civil rights and racial justice cases through a new pro bono clinic, launched this semester.

The Civil Rights Litigation Pro Bono Clinic, a partnership between the UVA School of Law and Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Justice Center, received an $80,000 grant from the Jesse Ball duPont Fund. Students will work on civil rights cases involving topics found in many of today’s headlines, such as policing and race, criminalization of poverty and mental health.

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On a quiet Monday morning, former Justice Department official Paul Monteiro appeared at Charlottesville High School via videochat to speak with students about all the professional opportunities that a college degree opened up for him.

Monteiro served as the Justice Department’s acting director of community relations under President Obama and, like many of the students he addressed, was the first in his family to consider college and face down the financial burden of earning a degree.

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Paul Saunier, who played a major behind-the-scenes role in increasing the number of African-American students at the freshly desegregated University of Virginia in the 1960s – even loaning his own car to black students so they could make peer-to-peer recruitment visits around the commonwealth – died Wednesday in Charlottesville. He was 97.

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The University of Virginia Health System’s Dr. William A. Petri Jr. on Thursday was named one of Virginia’s Outstanding Scientists. The awards, recognizing three scientists who have made globally significant contributions to their fields, were announced by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Richard C. Conti, chief wonder officer at the Science Museum of Virginia.

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Long before the final cut is broadcast to millions of people around the country, episodes of the Miller Center’s popular public affairs show “American Forum” get a tuneup from a University of Virginia student.

Alex Griffith, a fourth-year history major, has been working for the center since the start of his third year and is the only student with a permanent place in the program’s production flow.

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Virginia students have another option to pursue a four-year University of Virginia degree.

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Walking past a group of young men on the Corner one night, Tori McKenzie could not escape their taunts.

It was not, unfortunately, a new experience for the University of Virginia student. Other people, after noticing McKenzie’s muscular physique, had wondered aloud if she were on steroids – or if she were a man. And so this latest incident, McKenzie said, “kind of brought me down.”

She did not stay down. McKenzie texted fellow UVA sprinter Jordan Lavender. She was having a tough time, McKenzie told Lavender, who invited her friend to join her at another spot on the Corner.

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The University of Virginia gave Kevin Scott the confidence to pursue his career.

Scott, who worked on his Ph.D. in computer engineering at UVA from 1998 to 2003, was recently named chief technology officer for the Microsoft Corp., an expansion of his role as senior vice president of infrastructure at LinkedIn.

At UVA, Scott worked with Jack Davidson, an engineering computer science professor and nationally renowned cybersecurity researcher. Scott and Davidson credit each other with providing inspiration in their work and careers.

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Looking back on their college careers, former students likely will not remember the exact title of every term paper they wrote or the contents of every reading. Many, however, can vividly recall the advice and the professors that shaped those four critical years.

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