When I arrived on the Grounds of Mr. Jefferson’s academical village 30 years ago, two readily apparent conditions seemed to dominate if not define the life of the University. The first was cultural. A year of coeducation had been successfully completed; as planned, the percentage of women arriving in the fall of 1971 exceeded the percentage of the previous entering class. The mixed feelings that so often accompany change were felt at the University. Even those who favored coeducation understood the nostalgia of others. Indeed, there would be no turning back. Shops on the Corner, hours at Memorial Gym, selected dormitory conversions all reflected the new demographics at Virginia, and if not every member of the faculty and student body at “the old U” was elated at the prospect of having women as four-year students and classmates, neither were they inhospitable. These were, after all, Virginia gentlemen; relations were, at worst, polite.

The second condition was easier to discern, for it was one of the heart. The inhabitants of Mr. Jefferson’s University, his treasured Charlottesville and Albemarle County were a people crazy in love. They had, to a person it seemed, become enamored with basketball and the players who wore the Virginia uniform. Having advanced beyond all expectations in 1970-71 Atlantic Coast Conference play, this team had achieved the unprecedented: it had been ranked in the nation’s top twenty. Life in central Virginia has not been the same since.

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Copyright © 2001 Alumni Association of the University of Virginia. This article first appeared in The University of Virginia Alumni News Magazine (2001), 26-31.

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