June 14, 2010 — Four University of Virginia students will spend the summer on the Lawn, conducting three separate research projects focusing on the Academical Village.
Their research is being funded by the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund of the Academical Village, which awards summer grants supporting students who conduct research projects that increase public understanding of the original precinct of the University designed by Thomas Jefferson. Each student will receive up to $4,000 toward his research, with an additional $1,000 for the faculty adviser.
The award recipients are:
• Anna Merrick Bonewitz, 24, of Grapevine, Texas, a second-year Ph.D. student in art and architectural history in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, who will research faculty life on the Lawn from the time of its earliest residency, compiling biographical sketches of individual faculty members. Her adviser is Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History.
• Nicholas Genau, 26, of Buffalo, N.Y., a Ph.D. student in art and architectural history in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, who will explore early perceptions of the Academical Village, including written and visual descriptions by the public, historians, artists and architects, from 1826 to 1867. Wilson is also his adviser.
• Thomas Howard, 20, of Richmond, a rising third-year history major in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Owen Gallogly, 19, of Richmond, a rising third-year government and history double major in the College, who will be writing a history of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, the oldest student organization at the University and the second-oldest Greek letter organization in North America. They will be working with Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History.
"The Kenan Award provides students with a unique opportunity to study the Academical Village and then to share their findings with the public," said Lucy Russell, executive director of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, which administers the Kenan Awards. "This year's projects promise to shed light on some very interesting aspects of the University that haven't been explored before. I look forward to seeing the final projects in the fall."
The research funded by the Kenan endowment yields important results for the University and for the students.
"The history of the University is important to the institution, and everyone associated with it," Onuf said. "The opportunity to do cutting-edge research – for us, in the archives – significantly extends and enriches undergraduate education at the University."
Kenan made his fortune by founding the company that became Union Carbide and was a partner in the Flagler System Companies. In his later years, he became a philanthropist focused on education. U.Va. has benefited from his generosity through fellowships, chairs and grants.
— By Matt Kelly