It started 200 years ago with Thomas Jefferson in 1819. He planned the curriculum, recruited the first faculty, and designed the Academical Village.
Comprised of a central lawn and surrounded by residences and gardens, the “village” symbolized Jefferson’s intent to create an institution that supported the free and open exchange of ideas, close interaction among students and faculty, and collegial collaboration across disciplines.
The University was innovative for its day because it was dedicated to educating leaders in practical affairs and public service rather than for professions in the classroom and the pulpit exclusively. It was the first nonsectarian university in the United States and the first to use the elective course system.
The University opened for classes in 1825 with a faculty of eight and a student body numbering sixty-eight. This was also the beginning of what was to become the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Today the College has grown to become the largest of the University of Virginia’s 11 schools.
Offering more than 50 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than two dozen graduate programs, the Arts & Sciences curriculum spans the liberal arts, incorporating the social sciences, arts, humanities and physical sciences. The College and Graduate School has over 11,900 students who are taught by more than 750 faculty members, and has over 89,000 living alumni.