Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1825 and said that it was one of the three things he would want to be a part of his legacy. (Leffler) According to the University of Virginia website the educational institute selects individuals who show promise in the future. In a letter to C. Yancey, 1816, Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” He not only viewed education as an advancement of self but also an advancement of the nation.
Jefferson considered building large university campus’s unnecessary. In his letter to Messrs. Hugh L. White and Others he said the following, “I consider the common plan followed in this country, but not in others, of making one large and expensive building, as unfortunately erroneous. It is infinitely better to erect a small and separate lodge for each separate professorship, with only a hall below for his class, and two chambers above for himself; joining these lodges by barracks for a certain portion of the students, opening into a covered way to give a dry communication between all the schools.” (1223) He wanted colleges to be more than buildings; he wanted them to be ‘academical village’s’. He wanted the professors to look after the surrounding area of his classroom and communicate with the students often. He wanted the village to keep on expanding as more money came in to create a large educational environment. (Jefferson, 1224)
The University of Virginia’s infrastructure is planned according to Jefferson’s ideas. The faculty homes are planted above classrooms just as Jefferson wished and are further connected to other student rooms. The cafeteria and the library are both near the student rooms and professors teaching a specific class still patrol the surrounding premises. (The Founding) While comparing institutes today it is easy to see Jefferson’s vision come alive. Aside from colleges situated in cramped cities most university campuses are very close to Jefferson’s idea of an ‘academical village.’ Each department is stationed in a different area. A college usually has a separate building for its science majors and a separate building for its literature majors. In most universities, cafeterias are interlinked with particular dorms. In constructing the ‘academical village’, “Jefferson understood well the need to spend money to achieve excellence (including architectural distinction, as reflected in his ‘academical village’), and the accounts of his fundraising efforts and the attendant frustrations will resonate with the leaders of private and public universities today.” (Wagoner 10) Jefferson’s was a true visionary in that is idea’s are still present in society today especially when it comes to the construction of a university campus.
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