These 10 Videos are Among Our Most-Watched Ever

These 10 Videos are Among Our Most-Watched Ever

One video told the story of Connor Woodle, born without thumbs but now enjoying two fully functioning hands, thanks to University of Virginia surgeons.

Another offered a reminder of Charlottesville’s beauty and potential, right when we needed it most. Still others showed a breakthrough that changed medicine forever or highlighted a beloved faculty member who shares hard-won wisdom with her students every day.

And then there is the video of Ed Helms singing “This Little Light of Mine” on the Lawn. It’s part-hilarious, part-poignant, and entirely memorable.

UVA’s video producers have played witness to these and many more pivotal, meaningful and wonderful moments in the University’s recent history. They tell powerful stories in just a few minutes – an increasingly important skill in the current digital media landscape.

According to Pew Research Center, 73 percent of U.S. adults said they used YouTube. That’s more than any other social media platform – even Facebook, which attracted 68 percent of American adults. The number was even higher for 18- to 24-year-olds, 94 percent of whom reported using YouTube.

The two social media sites define videos views differently. Facebook counts a video as “viewed” anytime it plays for at least three seconds, while YouTube only counts videos that have been viewed for at least 30 seconds. However, both play an important role in sharing video content directly with large audiences and creating those “viral” moments that take on a life of their own.

Here are 10 of our top-performing videos on the two sites from the past five years. It’s worth noting that another annual top performer – UVA’s holiday video – was just released this month. Catch it here if you missed it.


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This is Charlottesville

This video is a celebration of the University’s hometown and the people and places that bring it to life, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Downtown Mall on a busy weekend evening, and many other places besides.

It accumulated 205,904 views when it was shared on Facebook, as well as more than 17,200 on YouTube.

UVA Surgeons Help a Boy Born with No Thumbs

The UVA Surgery That Gave a Boy Thumbs

They might not be celebrities, but the UVA surgeons in this video are heroes to young Connor Woodle, who was born without thumbs due to a rare genetic disorder. Dr. Bobby Chhabra, co-founder of the UVA Hand Center, led a complex surgical procedure to rotate and reposition Woodle’s index fingers and rewire the muscles and tendons to allow the fingers to function as thumbs.

The video garnered more than 21,000 views on YouTube and more than 42,000 on Facebook, as Wahoos around the world were moved by the Woodle family’s story.

A Breakthrough on Grounds Changes Medicine Worldwide

UVA Researchers Find Link Between Brain and Immune System

A UVA research team led by Jonathan Kipnis, director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, overturned decades of textbook teaching when they determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.

Since that discovery, Kipnis and his team have used their knowledge to pursue treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s, autism, multiple sclerosis and other disorders. They have also garnered a lot of recognition. This video has been viewed 124,000 times and the article in which it is embedded is UVA Today’s most viewed article of all time, with more than 2 million views.

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UVA in Numbers

UVA In Numbers

This video breaking down key statistics at the University of Virginia proved very popular. It quickly shares important data and fun facts – from UVA’s more than 24,000 students taking more than 10,000 classes to the 15,000 Bodos bagels ready to fuel them. It got more than 223,000 views on Facebook and 10,933 on YouTube.

UVA Lingo

UVA Lingo: Wahoos, Lawnies and Grounds

Another fun video offers a guide to some of the terminology you might hear around Grounds (not campus) every day. We are all “Wahoos,” but a few of us are “Lawnies”; we’ve walked the Corner, been first-years and know exactly what we mean when we say “the Academical Village,” “the Pav” and “Rugby Road.” More than 43,785 of you enjoyed this one on YouTube.

Sherri Moore

UVA Last Lecture: Sherri Moore Shares Powerful Story

Most of the time, McIntire School of Commerce professor Sherri Moore teaches commercial law. But on the last day of class, she tells her students her own powerful story. Moore lost her husband when she was 30 and, four months later, lost her mother. She hopes the lessons she learned – about resilience, compassion and building your own definition of happiness day by day – will help her student as they head out into the world.

Moore’s message resonated online as well as in the classroom; this video has more than 140,000 combined views on YouTube and Facebook. 

Jim Ryan

UVA President Helps First-Years Move In

UVA President Jim Ryan went viral at this year’s Move-In Day, going incognito to join first-year students and their families as they explored their new home. The surprise ending was a hit with Wahoos everywhere and offered Ryan an opportunity to introduce himself to the UVA community and kick off his term.

The video got more than 187,000 views on Facebook, where more than 8,500 people shared it.

Final Exercises

UVA Grad 2018: Memories and Moments

Final Exercises is the highlight of the UVA calendar every year, and our highlight video always attracts attention, as graduates and their families relive special memories and moments. This year’s video was viewed about 75,000 times on Facebook – for more than 43,000 minutes.

Stephen Colbert Comes to UVA

Stephen Colbert Salutes UVA’s Class of 2013

Comedian Stephen Colbert addressed UVA’s Class of 2013 during Valedictory Exercises, and more than 526,000 people have since viewed the video on YouTube.

Colbert entertained the graduates and their families with characteristic one-liners before earnestly encouraging students to create the world they want to see.

Acclaimed actress Sarah Drew headlined the same event a few years later, in 2016. Drew, who earned her bachelor’s degree in drama in 2002, starred in the hit medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” as well as shows like “Everwood,” “Mad Men,” “Glee” and “Medium.” More than 120,000 people watched video footage of her address on Facebook, and more than 65,000 have watched on YouTube.

Ed Helms Sings on the Lawn

Ed Helms Sings "This Little Light of Mine" at UVA

Comedian Ed Helms offered yet more proof that celebrities tend to attract both live audiences and online viewers. He addressed UVA’s Class of 2015 at Valedictory Exercises and capped his speech with a rousing rendition of “This Little Light of Mine,” accompanied by student a cappella group the Hullabahoos.

Combining Facebook and YouTube, more than 529,000 people have viewed the video.

Media Contact

Caroline Newman

Associate Editor Office of University Communications