March 20, 2012 — Ernest H. Ern, former vice president of student affairs at the University of Virginia, received accolades and participated in the dedication of a new building named for him on Monday.
Along with his wife, Petie, Ern was joined by U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia Lampkin, Rector Helen Dragas and other top administrators. They unveiled a slate plaque describing Ern's service to the University at a ceremony in the Ern Commons building, located in the Alderman Road first-year residence area.
The Cavalier Marching Band started off with musical accompaniment, and after remarks from the guests, the a capella group Virginia Gentlemen led everyone in singing the "Good Ol' Song."
Ern said that during his 50 years with the University, he had seen it keep evolving and growing – and the changes were consistent with good traditions, such as student self-governance.
Ern Commons, a one-story, multi-purpose building that stands between the Balz-Dobie and Watson-Webb houses, opened in October. It serves the residential communities with an audiovisual projector and screen, sound system, catering preparation kitchen and a seated banquet capacity of 250, enough to accommodate one building's residents. It is available to all of the Alderman Road residence houses, with an event capacity of nearly 700.
Ern retired in 2000, having served for the last nine years as senior vice president. He joined the University in 1962 as an assistant geology professor.
He became assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences three years after joining the U.Va. faculty. He then served as dean of admission from 1967 to 1973. For the next 20 years, he was vice president of student affairs. He came out of retirement in 2004 to serve as interim chancellor at the University's College at Wise for a year.
In 1993 – the year he became senior vice president – the Board of Visitors established the Ernest H. Ern Distinguished Professorship in Environmental Sciences and named him a University Professor, U.Va.'s highest academic rank. In 1998, Ern received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for excellence of character and service to humanity.
— By Anne Bromley