Accolades: UVA Earns Another ‘Best Value’ Ranking


For the fourth time in the survey’s seven years, the University of Virginia ranks No. 1 among Virginia schools in SmartAsset’s recently released Best Value Colleges study, which takes into account scholarships, starting salary, tuition, living expenses and student retention rate.

UVA edged Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Tech in the seventh annual rankings. Washington & Lee University and the University of Richmond rounded out the top five.

More details on the study, including the methodology and interactive map can be found here.

UVA Engineering Recognized Among Top Schools in Multiple Rankings

U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online Programs” rankings are out, and the UVA School of Engineering’s online Master of Engineering program for civil engineering has been named No. 7 in the nation.

UVA Engineering’s systems engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science programs also performed well in recent rankings announcements.

Only University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Arizona State University and the University of California, Los Angeles, preceded UVA’s civil engineering online master’s program in U.S. News’ rankings.

UVA’s online mechanical engineering master’s program is ranked 12th, and the online electrical engineering master’s program is ranked 15th.

Overall, UVA Engineering is among the top 25 online engineering programs in the nation, according to U.S. News, jumping seven spots.

Best Master’s Programs, which ranks according to factors such as cost, reputation and salary potential for graduates, lists UVA Engineering as 16th in the nation for its overall online master’s program, and fourth in the nation for civil engineering.

In a year marked by universities making hard pivots to virtual learning in the midst of a pandemic, the top rankings are particularly meaningful.

“I am proud of our faculty who work tirelessly to provide the same quality teaching even when offered remotely,” said James A. Smith, Henry L. Kinnier Professor of Civil Engineering and assistant dean for graduate education. “The rankings provide a testament to UVA Engineering’s commitment to offer students a world-class education.”

U.S. News & World Report evaluated more than 1,600 online programs for student services and technology, faculty credentials and student engagement.

“As in-person gatherings remain limited, we might see more interest in online degrees than in pre-pandemic years,” Anita Narayan, managing editor of education at U.S. News, said in a press release. “But online degrees aren’t only practical in the short term – distance education can also be conducive to a schedule that includes full-time work or other commitments.”

In another ranking, College Choice, an online educational ranking site, ranked the School of Engineering No. 10 in the nation for its computer science bachelor’s degree program. UVA was the only Virginia school on the list of top 25 programs.

The rankings from College Choice take into account “retention, affordability and reputation,” according to the announcement.

In its profile of UVA Engineering’s program, the website says, “Undergrad students have opportunities to work with top-rate professors and participate in their research.” 

U.S. News & World Report, Best Master’s Programs and College Choice are not the only ranking entities taking note.

Best Engineering Colleges has ranked several UVA Engineering programs among the top 20 in the nation, including systems engineering (No. 8), aerospace engineering (No. 11), materials engineering (No. 14), computer engineering (No. 15), civil engineering (No. 19) and chemical engineering (No. 20).

UVA was ranked No. 24 overall by Best Engineering Colleges.

Gold Medal for Rita Dove

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing, has received a the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the academy announced March 26. The award is its highest honor for excellence in the arts.

Given each year in two rotating categories of the arts, the Gold Medal is awarded to those who have achieved eminence in an entire body of work. The recipients are chosen by the members of the academy – membership is capped at 300, of whom only a small minority are poets – across all disciplines.

Dove is only the third female poet in the medals’ 110-year history (after Marianne Moore in 1953 and Louise Glück in 2015) and the first non-white poet, female or male. The other 15 poets who received the medal since 1911 were James Whitcomb Riley, Edward A. Robinson, Robert Frost, Moore, Conrad Aiken, William Carlos Williams, W.H. Auden, John Crowe Ransom, Archibald MacLeish, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wilbur, John Ashbery, W.S. Merwin, Mark Strand and Glück.

Only two other Black writers have received gold medals: John Hope Franklin (2002, in the History category) and Toni Morrison (2019, in the Fiction category). 

“Poet and essayist Rita Dove penetrates the cultural smokescreen of history, interrogating national memory and longing in books of remarkable range,” the academy wrote in the biography of Dove accompanying its announcement.

Dove, who was named the first Black U.S. Poet Laureate at the age of 40, also received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her book “Thomas and Beulah.” She has edited The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry and received both the National Humanities Medal (from President Bill Clinton, 1996) as well as the National Medal of Arts (from President Barack Obama, 2012). She was a elected a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters in 2011.

WTJU Takes Three Golden Microphone Awards

WTJU, the University’s community radio station, received three Golden Microphone Awards from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System at the organization’s 81st annual meeting, held virtually earlier this month. All three winning entries were student-produced.

“Main Street Speaks,” a WTJU-produced podcast featured recently in UVA Today, was named “Best Podcast.”

A WTJU report, “How Charlottesville Music Changed After ‘Unite the Right,’” won the Best News Feature category. It was produced by fourth-year student Aaryan Balu, an intern at the station, where he produces “Bold Dominion,” a state politics explainer podcast hosted by WTJU General Manager Nathan Moore.

Finally, promotional material for the “Perfectly Circular Rock” show took first place in the “Best Show Promotional Poster” competition. It was designed by then-UVA student Emma Scales, who has since transferred to another school.

Eight other WTJU entries won Silver Microphone awards. WTJU’s 11 winning entries can be found here.

Democracy Institute Leader to Head Monticello Board

Melody C. Barnes, co-director for policy and public affairs of UVA’s Democracy Initiative, has been named chair of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the private, nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello.

Barnes is also the Dorothy Danforth Compton Professor of Practice at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, a senior fellow at the Karsh Center for Law & Democracy, and an affiliated faculty member at the School of Law. 

Leslie Greene Bowman, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, said, “Monticello continues a tradition of strong and visionary board leadership as we plan for the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the United States and strengthen our dedication to an honest, inclusive history of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello and the enslaved families who lived and labored here.”

Barnes was assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council during former President Barack Obama’s administration. Prior to that, she was executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and chief counsel to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her experience includes appointments as director of legislative affairs for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and serving as assistant counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. She began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.

Barnes hosts and narrates the National Endowment for the Humanities-supported podcast “LBJ and the Great Society,” and is co-editor of “Community Wealth Building & The Reconstruction of American Democracy: Can We Make American Democracy Work?” She also is a regular commentator on U.S. domestic public policy.

Rachel Robinson, Paige Madden Named ACC Postgraduate Scholars

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced March 24 that two UVA fourth-year student-athletes, swimmer Paige Madden of Mobile, Alabama, and field hockey player Rachel Robinson of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, are among 52 from league institutions selected as 2021 Weaver-James-Corrigan Postgraduate Scholarship Award recipients.
The Weaver-James-Corrigan postgraduate scholarships are awarded to selected student-athletes who intend to pursue a graduate degree following completion of their undergraduate requirements. Recipient each receive $6,000 toward their graduate education. Those honored have performed with distinction in both the classroom and their respective sport, while demonstrating exemplary conduct in the community.

Robinson, who has been a team captain since her sophomore season, is a member of the U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team in addition to anchoring UVA’s defensive back line. Robinson was a first-team All-American and an All-ACC first-team honoree in 2019-20. The kinesiology major was the first Cavalier field hockey player since 1998 to be named the ACC Field Hockey Scholar-Athlete of the Year when she did so last season.

Madden helped lead Virginia to its first NCAA women’s swimming and diving championship earlier this month with three individual titles, the most by any swimmer. Madden was also a member of the NCAA champion 800-yard freestyle relay. She did not lose an individual race in the 2021 ACC or NCAA championships. Madden finished her UVA career with 14 All-America honors, earning five at NCAAs, and was a 13-time ACC champion. She improved her own UVA record in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships and helped set a school record with the 800 freestyle relay.

Wake Forest tennis player Bar Botzer, who next fall will join the UVA men’s tennis team when he enters the two-year program at the Darden School of Business, has also earned the honor.

The Weaver-James-Corrigan Award is named in honor of the late Jim Weaver, Bob James and Gene Corrigan, the first three ACC commissioners. Corrigan also was a former director of athletics at UVA.

Professor Receives Law Institute’s Early Career Scholars Medal

Law professor Ashley Deeks has been named a recipient of the American Law Institute’s Early Career Scholars Medal.

The award recognizes law professors whose work is relevant to public policy and has the potential to influence improvements in the law. The medalists are selected every other year and presented the award at the institute’s annual meeting.

University of Minnesota law professor Francis X. Shen is this year’s co-recipient.

“Ashley and Francis are two early-career law professors who are already making a tremendous impact on the way we think about some of the most important and current legal topics of our day,” said Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, who serves as the chair of institute’s Early Career Scholars Medal Selection Committee.

Wood added, “Ashley’s work on national security, international law and foreign relations has earned her national recognition.”

Deeks is currently on leave from the Law School to serve as White House associate counsel and deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council.

She joined the Law School in 2012 as an associate professor of law after two years as an academic fellow at Columbia Law School. She served as the inaugural director of UVA Law’s National Security Law Center last year.

Before turning to academia, Deeks served as the assistant legal adviser for political-military affairs in the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, where she worked on issues related to the law of armed conflict, the use of force, conventional weapons and the legal framework for the conflict with al-Qaida. She also provided advice on intelligence issues. In previous positions at the State Department, Deeks advised on international law enforcement, extradition and diplomatic property questions. In 2005, she served as the embassy legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, during Iraq’s constitutional negotiations.

Deeks, the E. James Kelly, Jr.-Class of 1965 Research Professor of Law, has been a prominent commentator on national security law issues during her time as a professor, including as contributing editor of the Lawfare blog.

UVA Cancer Center Clinic Earns National Patient Experience Award

The 3 West hematology/oncology clinic at UVA’s Emily Couric Cancer Center has earned a national patient experience award based on excellent ratings from patients.

“It’s so rewarding to have the work of the entire team recognized for the great work that they do,” said Devon Bloxsom, the clinic manager. “Each team member treats every patient with the utmost respect and tries to make their visit a positive one.”

The clinic’s approximately 55 team members received the 2020 Pinnacle of Excellence Award from Press Ganey, which supports health care providers nationwide in understanding and improving care delivery. The award recognizes care providers who have maintained consistent levels of excellence for three years in the area of patient experience. Patients were surveyed about factors that included their likelihood to recommend the clinic and the teamwork among the clinic staff. 

“The caregivers and staffs of these award-winning organizations touch the lives of countless millions across the country every day, and we are honored to recognize their extraordinary work,” Patrick T. Ryan, Press Ganey’s chair and chief executive officer, said. “To achieve these levels of success, leaders embraced the humanity of health care. They listened to the voices of caregivers and consumers and leveraged rich data and insights to inform targeted improvement strategies and drive the level of transformation needed to consistently deliver safe, high-quality care in the complex health care environment.”

Dr. Robert Dreicer, deputy director of UVA Cancer Center who sees patients in the 3 West clinic, said the Press Ganey results reflect the commitment of his colleagues to serve their patients.

“Irrespective of what our individual roles are, no one goes into health care for recognition,” he said. “With that said, this award for me validates what I see every day – a team of health care professionals providing outstanding care of our cancer patients.”

American Alliance of Museums Re-Accredits The Fralin Museum of Art

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia has again achieved the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums: accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, which signifies excellence to the museum community, governments, funders, outside agencies and the museum-going public. All museums must undergo a re-accreditation review at least every 10 years to maintain accredited status.

“Achieving re-accreditation is a major milestone for the team at The Fralin,” Matthew McLendon, J. Sanford Miller Family Director at the Fralin, said. “The process allowed us the opportunity to look at the strengths of being a university museum and to bring renewed focus to how we could use the experience of art to connect students, faculty, staff and the community.” 

Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, more than 1,070 are currently accredited. The Fralin is one of approximately 50 museums accredited in Virginia.

Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn re-accreditation, a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, considers the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation. 

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura L. Lott, Alliance president and CEO. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.” 

UVA Health Cardiologist Lauded for His Mentoring

UVA Health’s Dr. Christopher Kramer will be honored this spring with the American College of Cardiology’s 2021 Distinguished Mentor Award for his work with trainees ranging from medical students to advanced cardiovascular imaging fellows.

The award is given to a fellow of the organization who “has demonstrated a dedication to mentoring physicians and/or other members of the cardiac care team across a spectrum of professional activities and consequently has palpably shaped the careers of current and future leaders in cardiovascular medicine.”

“I am incredibly honored by this award,” Kramer said. “One of the highlights of my career has been watching the success of my former trainees across the country and those at UVA.”

Kramer has worked at UVA Health since 1999, establishing the cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging program and a collaborative research group called the Cardiovascular Imaging Center. He has directly mentored 36 imaging fellows while helping several new faculty members earn National Institutes of Health research funding. He has won numerous awards for his mentorship and teaching.

The bonds that Kramer builds with those whom he mentors extend beyond medicine, said UVA Health cardiovascular imaging specialist Dr. Michael Salerno, who nominated Kramer for the award. “Dr. Kramer cares about his trainees as people, and often invites fellows, students and faculty to his home. At the annual Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance meeting, he organizes a dinner with all of his prior imaging trainees,” Salerno said.

Kramer is generous with his time and is invested in the success of the people he advises, making him an ideal mentor and a worthy recipient of this national honor, Salerno said.

Kramer, the chief of cardiovascular medicine at UVA, will receive his award in May at the national cardiology group’s 70th Annual Scientific Session & Expo.

Engineering Professor Sebastian Elbaum Named IEEE Fellow

Sebastian Elbaum, Anita Jones Professor of Computer Science at the School of Engineering, has been named an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fellow in recognition of his development of testing techniques for evolving systems.

The institute’s board of directors annually awards the designation to those who have contributed to the advancement or application of engineering, bringing significant value to society. Fellow is the highest level of membership and is recognized by the technical community as an important career achievement. Less than 1% of the institute’s membership earn the honor.

Elbaum, who joined UVA Engineering’s Department of Computer Science in 2018, has published more than 150 articles on analysis techniques to make complex systems more dependable. He has been supported by more than 30 external grants and is exploring how to narrow the gap between automated program analysis techniques and robotic system development. He is also one of the founding faculty members of the Lab for Engineering Safe Software at UVA Engineering.

Elbaum is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, an IBM Innovation Award and a Google Faculty Research Award. In addition to being recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery as a Distinguished Scientist, he received an ACM Foundations of Software Engineering Test of Time Award and five ACM SigSoft Distinguished Paper Awards.

UVA Health Physician Honored for Increasing Colorectal Cancer Screenings 

UVA Health’s Dr. Cynthia M. Yoshida is one of six winners of a national award recognizing health care providers and institutions for their work to increase colorectal cancer screening rates.

Yoshida, a gastroenterologist and medical lead of UVA Cancer Center’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Program, received a 2021 “80% In Every Community” National Achievement Award earlier this month from the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. Founded by the American Cancer Society and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the awards are part of the roundtable’s efforts to reach 80% colorectal cancer screening rates nationally among adults ages 50 and older. 

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer in the U.S., with almost 150,000 cases projected for 2021. However, colorectal cancer is highly preventable and treatable, as screening enables polyps to be removed before they develop into cancer or detects cancer in its early stages.

“This work is a team effort,” Yoshida said. “I am incredibly fortunate to collaborate with amazing colleagues from the UVA Cancer Center, the Virginia Colorectal Cancer Roundtable and the American Cancer Society, who are ‘all in’ committed to improving CRC screening rates and saving lives in Virginia.”

In honoring Yoshida, the roundtable cited her work in improving access to quality colorectal cancer screening for UVA Health team members, patients and under-resourced communities across Virginia. For example, Yoshida and her colleagues have helped establish a free colorectal cancer screening program that has served more than 400 uninsured patients in rural Virginia. This program is partnering with Central Virginia Community Health Services to ensure timely follow-up to positive fecal immunochemical tests, a noninvasive initial exam for colorectal cancer, with free or discounted colonoscopies.

Yoshida will receive a $1,000 prize to support her work to increase colorectal cancer screening rates.

Media Contact

Dan Heuchert

Assistant Director of University News and Chief Copy Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications