Accolades: UVA Named State’s Top Option for LGBTQ+ Students

Campus Pride cited the University’s resources and events in designating UVA as the most LGBTQ-plus-friendly school in Virginia.

Best and Campus Pride have selected the University of Virginia as the best college for LGBTQ+ students in Virginia.

“The ranking … combines our Academic and Affordability Metrics along with the Campus Pride Index score, which is a comprehensive national rating system that measures LGBTQ-friendly campus life,” according to the announcement on the Best Colleges website. “Campus Pride takes an exhaustive and multifaceted approach, considering eight LGBTQ-inclusive factors to reach a measurement. The listing also includes descriptions of unique campus resources that provide support to students of various gender and sexual identities.”

According to the write-up, “UVA also distinguishes itself as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly schools in the state through measures such as gender-neutral restrooms, LGBTQ housing options, and inclusive career services. UVA’s LGBTQ Center and LGBTQ Student Services both support queer and transgender students on campus by hosting educational programming, events and workshops. The LGBTQ Center serves as a gathering place, event space, study lounge and a library stocked with LGBTQ reading materials.

“Student Services at UVA is responsible for coordinating a range of events and programming, include Safe Space training for LGBTQ allies, queer health talks, and the LGBTQ Speakers Bureau. The LGBTQ Speakers Bureau is comprised of students, faculty, and staff who volunteer their time to educate UVA students on LGBTQ issues through educational panel discussions. LGBTQ students can also take advantage of several award and scholarship opportunities that recognize academic achievement and community involvement.”

Graduate Student Invited to Nobel Laureate Summit

Richard Baylis, a student in the School of Medicine’s Medical Scientist Training Program, is among 600 outstanding students, doctoral candidates and post-docs under the age of 35 invited to take part in the 2018 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to be held June 24 through 29 on the shores of Lake Constance in Germany.

Baylis is an M.D./Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Owens, who directs UVA’s Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center. According to its website, the lab is “focused on the molecular regulation of differentiation of vascular smooth muscle cells during development, and how transitions in the differentiated state of these cells, or so-called SMC phenotypic switching, contributes to the pathogenesis of major human diseases, including atherosclerosis, cancer, hypertension and aneurysms, which are the leading causes of death worldwide.”

Baylis received his B.S. in biomedical engineering at the Ohio State University.

This year’s meeting, dedicated to physiology and medicine, will set two records: 43 Nobel laureates – more than ever before at a medicine meeting – will take part, and the field of participants, with 84 countries of origin, is more diverse than ever.

More than 130 academic partners worldwide – academies, universities and foundations – nominated the candidates for participation after internal application procedures.

The six-day program will for the first time feature so-called “Agora Talks,” in which laureates answer the audience’s questions. In poster flash-presentations and master classes, the young scientists will present their research to the Nobel laureates and their colleagues.

Alongside circadian cycles, the key topics of the 68th Lindau Meeting are the role of science in a ‘post-factual era,’ gene therapy and scientific publishing practices.

Sullivan Receives National ‘Woman of Spirit’ Award

UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan will headline the 2018 Women of Spirit Awards Program, scheduled to be held Thursday in the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, Pennsylvania. She was to be presented the National Woman of Spirit Award, presented by host and sponsor Carlow University of Pittsburgh.

Former Carlow President Grace Ann Geibel established the award program in 1993 to recognize outstanding women who exemplify the mission of the university, established by the Sisters of Mercy order in 1929. Winners are recognized for “their professional and personal leadership and their service to others.”

“In turn, they share their expertise with the Carlow community by actively participating in the life of the University and in the development of its students,” the university said in an announcement.

Sullivan will step down from the presidency this summer. She took office in 2010 as the University’s eighth president, and the first woman to hold that office.

During her tenure, Sullivan has broadened the diversity of the student population, implemented a new strategic plan, grown UVA’s research portfolio, prioritized efforts to address generational turnover among faculty and guided the successful conclusion of a $3 billion capital campaign. She has championed safety and quality as hallmarks of patient care at the UVA Health System.

As the University neared its bicentennial, Sullivan launched the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University to explore and report on UVA’s historical relationship with slavery. That effort has significantly increased the University’s understanding of the legacy of slavery, with research and instruction ongoing. It also led to the recommendation to establish a Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, which will be constructed on Grounds east of Brooks Hall, across from the Corner. The Board of Visitors approved the memorial’s design in June.

Sullivan also led preparations for the University’s bicentennial celebration, which began in October. In anticipation of its 200th anniversary, the University reopened its centerpiece Rotunda in 2016 after a two-year, $58 million renovation that included significant repairs and upgrades to the interior, exterior and landscaping. The project expanded classroom space in the building and included installation of new marble capitals above the Rotunda’s exterior columns, as well as a new dome and oculus.

Past National Woman of Spirit Award winners include Marlo Thomas, award-winning actress and producer; Jill Ker Conway, best-selling author and historian; Judith E. Heumann, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services for the U.S. Department of Education; and Teresa Heinz, social and political activist and chairman of the Heinz Family Philanthropies. Jordan’s Queen Noor received the International Women of Spirit award in June 2005.

Madison House Wins Two National Awards

Madison House, the student volunteer center at UVA, won awards for two of its volunteer programs at the IMPACT National Conference in March, “the largest national gathering of student leaders, administrators, faculty and nonprofit staff committed to engaging college students in service, activism, politics, advocacy and other socially responsible work,” as its website says.

More than 600 participants attended the conference, which included a reception where five awards were given. Madison House snagged two of them. It won Advocacy Program of the Year, for the organization’s suite of programs that sends more than 3,000 students into the community, contributing some 100,000 hours of service per year and making “their campus and communities a better place for everyone,” the award says.

The IMPACT Board of Directors and planning committee specifically recognized the “Dear Young Person” postcard campaign that Madison House student volunteers organized with local community partners. In the aftermath of the Aug. 11 and 12 white supremacist demonstrations, students solicited, collected and sorted thousands of postcards with reassuring messages to distribute to area schoolchildren.

In addition, Madison House Head Program Director Wei Lin was named Volunteer of the Year. Lin, a fourth-year student in the McIntire School of Commerce, runs CASH – which stands for “Creating Assets, Savings and Hope” – a program to help people with low incomes file their taxes accurately and maximize their returns. CASH trains student volunteers to offer help during tax season, and they take an exam to become IRS-certified. Their tax return accuracy rate is 99 percent. Lin doubled the size of the volunteer team this year to more than 200 students.

Each year, a different university is chosen to host the IMPACT conference, a key component of the national student service movement. Madison House and UVA will host the 2019 gathering.

Old Cabell Hall Auditorium Earns National Recognition

Old Cabell Hall Auditorium was recently named one of “The 35 Best University Performing Arts Centers in the U.S.” by

In its write-up, the website said: “Stately columns greet you as you approach the Old Cabell Hall Auditorium. The backdrop for this intimate performance space is George Breck’s copy of the “School of Athens.” The murals in the lobby were inspired by his work. Cabell Hall has truly earned the honorific of “old.” The building opened in 1898. It’s also the home of the McIntire Department of Music and the university’s main concert hall.

Two other halls from Virginia made the list: George Mason University’s Hylton Performing Arts Center and Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center.

Physician-Lawyer B. Cameron Webb Named as One of ‘40 Under 40 Leaders’

The National Minority Quality Forum has named Dr. B. Cameron Webb, an assistant professor of medicine and public health science in the School of Medicine, as one of the nation’s “40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health,” recognizing him as among “the next generation of thought leaders in reducing health disparities.”

Webb, a physician and lawyer who works at the intersection of health and social justice, co-directs UVA’s Health Policy Program and leads “Viewpoints: A Health Policy Blog of UVA Public Health Sciences.” He recently completed a year as a 2016-17 White House Fellow. In his time spanning the Obama and Trump administrations, his portfolio included education, workforce and criminal justice reform work through President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, as well as White House health care policy work in both administrations. 

“The 2018 winners are doing amazing things that both better and diversify the health care marketplace,” said Dr. Gary Puckrein, president and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum. “They serve as positive role models for our next generation of leaders in minority health.”

40 Under 40 recipients will receive their award at the 2018 NMQF Leadership Summit on Health Disparities Gala Dinner on April 17.

The honorees will also be recognized at the Congressional Black Caucus’ Spring Health Braintrust. The event’s chair, Dr. Robin Kelly, said, “Our country needs new leaders to fulfill the dream of eliminating health disparities in a generation. Fresh ideas and new approaches are needed to decrease health inequalities for minority communities currently suffering from poor access to quality health care.”

Black Law Students Association Repeats National Chapter Win

The Black Law Students Association at the School of Law has won national chapter of the year honors for the second straight year and for the fifth time since 2002.

The organization, founded in 1970, picked up the top award for a medium-sized chapter on Saturday at the National Black Law Students Association Convention. There are more than 200 BLSA chapters in the United States.

“It feels great to win chapter of the year,” President Jianne McDonald said. “It was my goal at the beginning of my presidency to not only ensure that we were cohesive as a chapter, but also to continue the tradition of UVA BLSA being one of NBLSA’s leading chapters.”

The tradition of UVA Law students serving as NBLSA leaders will continue as well. Second-year law student Marwa Abdelaziz will serve as national vice chair, second-year student Derek Keaton will be national treasurer and second-year student Kimberly Delk will be national attorney general starting in April.

Abdelaziz recently served as Mid-Atlantic NBLSA chair and service chair for UVA Law’s chapter. Delk is vice president of BLSA. Keaton, who also is on the Virginia Law Review Board as an articles development editor, “has been an integral part of our 1L education component,” McDonald said.

The national chapter of the year is chosen in part by the type and creativity of the programming the chapter organizes during the year.

BLSA sponsored more than 70 events in the past year, including a panel on equality, white supremacy and Confederate symbols; events promoting and supporting allyship with minority groups; a teach-in on public housing; a Salvation Army clothing drive; a voter registration drive; and a fundraiser for hurricane relief for Puerto Rico. The group also recently volunteered in South Africa to help victims of apartheid.

UVA Earns International Award for Heart and Lung Care

The Heart and Vascular Center at the UVA Medical Center has earned the Gold Level Excellence in Life Support Award from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization for providing lifesaving care for patients with failing hearts or lungs.

“I want to thank our outstanding heart care team and their partners throughout the University of Virginia Medical Center for their teamwork to provide this invaluable and advanced care for critically ill patients,” said Pamela M. Sutton-Wallace, chief executive officer of the medical center.

UVA received the award for its program to provide advanced life support through extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, also known as a heart-lung machine, for patients with certain serious heart or lung conditions. Injured lungs are unable to provide sufficient oxygen to the body, while injured hearts may not provide sufficient blood flow to the body. ECMO takes over these functions, allowing injured hearts and lungs to rest and recover.

“The Excellence in Life Support Award recognizes those centers that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction and ongoing clinical care,” said the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization in a statement.

To earn the award, UVA had to demonstrate the highest level of ECMO care in several areas, including:

•           Quality improvement activities

•           Advanced training for team members

•           Staffing levels

•           Equipment

•           Incorporating treatment advances

•           Family education and participation

•           Inter-hospital transport services for ECMO patients

•           Specialty and support services for ECMO patients

UVA Earns National Accreditation for Pulmonary Hypertension Care

The Pulmonary Hypertension Association has designated the Pulmonary Hypertension Center at UVA’s Heart and Vascular Center as a “Center of Comprehensive Care.”

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs. Over time, it causes heart failure, debilitation and death. Its symptoms can include shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue. Because these symptoms can mirror more common and less-threatening illnesses, patients can go years without being accurately diagnosed or may be misdiagnosed as having other illnesses such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

There are risk factors that make some people more likely to get pulmonary hypertension, but the disease affects men and women of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds. The best treatment strategy depends on what caused the condition in a particular patient.

Centers of Comprehensive Care such as UVA’s “provide comprehensive PH care with well-organized systems, services, facilities, highly trained and experienced physicians and PH team members, with emphasis on quality,” according to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.

Following their site visit, surveyors from the association praised UVA’s cohesive multidisciplinary care team, including a genetic counselor and palliative care physician.

UVA coordinates care for patients at a dedicated Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic.  Cardiologists and pulmonologists collaborate with nurse coordinators to provide comprehensive medical care. Consultation with specialists in rheumatology, interstitial lung disease, heart valve disease, congenital heart disease, lung transplantation, palliative care, genetics and nutrition are coordinated through the clinic to provide comprehensive and convenient care.

“The high-quality care provided by our pulmonary hypertension team is just one example of the advanced care we provide for patients from across Virginia,” Sutton-Wallace said. “I commend them for their commitment to serving our patients.”

Media Contact

Dan Heuchert

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