The Smorgasbord That Was 2017 on Grounds

Collage of images

Groundbreaking discoveries. A new president. Celebrities in the classroom. A party two centuries in the making.

Yes, there was a lot going on at the University of Virginia in 2017.

Here is a look at some of UVA Today’s most popular stories of the year, as measured by story views and social media engagement, presented in no particular order:


BOV Selects James E. Ryan as UVA’s Next President

In September, the Board of Visitors unanimously voted to name Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James E. Ryan as its next president. Ryan, who will succeed Teresa A. Sullivan, earned his law degree from UVA and previously served on the School of Law faculty. Ryan is set to begin his term on Oct. 1, 2018.


‘Two Blind Brothers’ Get Big Surprise From Ellen

In January, UVA alumni Bradford and Bryan Manning – whose clothing company, Two Blind Brothers, raises money for blindness research – received a $30,000 check while on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Since then, the brothers have raised more than $60,000 and quit their day jobs in order to devote more time to the cause.


UVA Sets – and Breaks – Record for Early-Action Applicants

students on Grounds walking to and from class

Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications

The number of early-action applicants for the Class of 2021 rose by 24 percent compared with the previous year, with 20,446 students applying for the non-binding early action program out of more than 36,700 total applications. That number rose again this fall, by an additional 5 percent, for a record 21,400 early-action applicants for the Class of 2022.


Taking Back the Lawn and ‘Concert for Charlottesville’ at Scott Stadium

Dave Matthews holding Stevie Wonders hand on stage

Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications

Soon after white supremacists led violent demonstrations at UVA on Aug. 11 and in Charlottesville the next day, the University community came together on the Lawn to reclaim the space and send a message of solidarity.

The next month, tens of thousands packed Scott Stadium on Sept. 24 for a blockbuster unity concert that featured a host of big-name artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Chris Martin and surprise guest Stevie Wonder.


Study Finds Key to Preventing Disruptive Behavior in Preschool Classrooms

Teacher claps while children clap and play tambourines.

Curry Professor Amanda Wiliford says preschoolers whose teachers used better classroom management practices at the beginning of the year experienced the most significant reduction in disruptive behavior.

A team of researchers at UVA’s Curry School of Education found that children who formed positive relationships with their preschool teachers tended to show better social-emotional and behavioral skills over time.


UVA Reverses Depression Symptoms in Mice

Alban Gaultier headshot

Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications

In a study, School of Medicine researchers reversed depression symptoms in mice by feeding them lactobacillus, a probiotic bacteria found in live-cultures yogurt. They plan to confirm their findings in humans.


Alums Katie Couric and Tina Fey Go Back to Class

Students watching Tina Fey on a screen

Photo courtesy of Anna Katherine Clay

Students in a media studies course, “Women and Television,” had a chance to talk with Couric and Fey via video chat. They asked Couric about difficult stories she’s covered during her journalism career, such as reporting from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan and interviews with victims of the 1999 Columbine shooting. Fey discussed everything from her writing for shows like “Saturday Night Live” to the female television stars who inspire her.


UVA in Numbers

This video exploring the University by the numbers was among the most-viewed web stories generated this year.


A Life of Lessons

Ben Williams headshot

Photo by Sanjay Suchak

Alumnus Ben Williams went to 12 schools and spent seven years in foster care while caring for his troubled younger brother. Now he is principal of a new high school for young men, some whose lives mirror his own. Read his amazing story.


Enslaved Laborers Memorial Making Headway

Digital drawing of the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers with people standing and sitting at the memorial

Image courtesy of Höweler + Yoon

In June, the Board of Visitors approved the design for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, which commemorates the contributions of slaves who worked to build and sustain the University in its early years. In October, the location (east of Brooks Hall, across from the Corner) and size of the memorial was staked out and design plans were displayed.


Celebrating the Bicentennial

Crowd watches as the Orchestra stands in front of the Rotunda

Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications

Commemorating the 1817 ceremony in which U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe observed the laying of the cornerstone at the University’s first building, October’s Bicentennial Launch Celebration featured performances by more than 800 UVA students and faculty alongside special guest stars like Leslie Odom Jr., the Tony Award-winning actor and singer who played Aaron Burr in the Broadway megahit “Hamilton”; Grammy Award-nominated R&B singer Andra Day; and rock band the Goo Goo Dolls.

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