Books Behind Bars: Virginia Film Festival Feature

Seats at the Table, a film screened at the Virginia Film Festival this November focuses on a very important program that pairs University of Virginia students with incarcerated youth at a local, maximum-security, juvenile correctional facilities. The Books Behind Bars program, created by Professor of Russian Literature Andrew Kaufman, has been pairing the two groups of students for discussions of Russian literature since 2009. In mixed small groups, University and incarcerated students analyze and discuss works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and other Russian authors. This innovative course allows students to engage in powerful discussions on difficult topics in a way that does not often occur anymore: What makes for a happy life? How can I be true to myself? What is my responsibility to others? Given that I will die, how should I live?

In addition to developing professional leadership skills like diplomacy, teamwork, and creative problem-solving, a number of University participants have been so dramatically impacted by this experience that they have changed career plans. Incarcerated resident participants report gains in academic, behavioral, social and personal development, in addition to an increased interest in attending college. Some have gone on to enroll in college, including one who had no plans to attend at the start of the program.

Books Behind Bars has received strong support from Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice. Andrew Block, director of DJJ, believes that inmates are people that should be invested in. As DJJ has moved toward a rehabilitative model, with a greater emphasis on education and a decrease in length of stay of the residents, they have asked that the program continue and expand to additional facilities. Early on, Dr. Kaufman received funding from the Jefferson Trust to expand and enhance this program, as well as a related research study. More recently, the College of Arts & Sciences at UVA has committed additional funding to ensure continuation of the course.

This powerful and moving documentary highlights the relationships forged between two very different student populations who find they have more in common than they could have imagined. Filmmaker Chris Farina’s mission is for Seats at the Table to serve as a tool for stimulating replication of this type of program, by sharing the story of this particular class while expanding the audience’s very understanding of what it means to be human. Throughout this recent screening of the film, the audience was actively engaged – laughing aloud at participant comments, cheering them on, even crying with them. It seems that Mr. Farina is well on his way!

Trustee Spotlight: Sharon Owlett

Sharon OwlettSharon Owlett has a long history with the Jefferson Trust. When the Trust was first formed, she was approached by Michael Clarke with the chance to be a part of the Trust’s inaugural Board of Trustees. “It was impossible to turn down the opportunity to work together with other dedicated alumni to build an organization that would foster programs both large and small across Grounds.” Sharon served as the first Chair of the Grants Committee and was key to constructing the grants process. She describes her first stint with the Trust as “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was challenging, deeply rewarding, and fun, all at the same time.” It took little persuasion for Sharon to return to the Trust for a second term; she is currently in her eighth year as a Trustee!

Cavalier pride runs deep in the Owlett family. Besides being a 1975 Law School graduate, Sharon is the mother of two double-Hoos, both of whom graduated from the College, then pursued graduate degrees (Law for one and Curry for the other). She has a stepbrother and two nephews that are UVA grads as well. Being a Trustee has allowed Sharon to enhance her connection to the University, due to the people she has been able to meet and get to know. She has been able to work closely with the wonderful staff of the Alumni Association, her fellow Trustees (who span all the schools of the University and multiple generations), and, of course, the applicants who come from every corner of the University community. It has created a “multi-layered connection with UVA [that is] hard to duplicate,” she says.

Sharon remains very involved at UVA outside of the Trust, having previously served on the Law School Alumni Council (including being Chair of National Appeals) and currently serving on the UVA Law School Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Outside of the University, she has sat on and/or advised several non-profit boards, including The Highland School in Warrenton and, currently, The Children’s Health Foundation in Norfolk.

It’s hard to pick a favorite trustee memory when there are so many, according to Sharon. What has always resonated with her the most is “hearing from the people that our grants have benefited: you know you’re doing good things when you see the difference we as a University can make in people’s lives, both here on Grounds and around the world.”

“Being able to help bring people’s ideas to life is an experience everyone should have,” Sharon says. She recommends getting involved with the Trust, because “The vision and the passion of the Trust’s applicants are energizing to see – it’s absolutely amazing to have a front row view of the intellectual, entrepreneurial and humanitarian talent that makes up this University. Having a role in fostering that talent enriches our Trustee group in indelible way.”

Announcing new Director of Development for The Jefferson Trust

Brent PercivalPlease welcome Brent Percival to The Jefferson Trust as our new Director of Development. Brent started with the Trust in mid-October, just in time to join the Trustees of the Trust at the annual Fall Board Meeting. Brent comes to the Trust from the UVA Health System Development Office, where he spent three years working with alumni from the medical school. Before joining UVA, he worked in development for Auburn University, and in advertising with Media General. Brent brings a background in gift planning, and a passion for the Trust!

While attending college, Brent was involved with student projects, therefore knows first-hand the power of alumni involvement in enhancing the student experience.  As a result, he is excited to work with current and future trustees in expanding and enhancing the Trust to best meet the needs of a growing University.

A native of Woodbridge, VA, Brent now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, Erin, four-year-old son, Ethan, and eight month-old daughter, Adelaide.

You can reach Brent at bp8x@virginia.edu or 434-243-8118 with any Development questions.

Web Application Announcement

2018–19 Grant Proposal Now Available

The Jefferson Trust is excited to announce our new web-based grant proposal form is now available!  Visit our Apply page to learn more about the application process and view the form.

Also, make plans to attend our applicant information session on Wednesday, September 5th at 4 p.m. at Alumni Hall.

Proposal submission deadline is October 1, 2018.

Announcing the new Vice-Chair of the Jefferson Trust

With the start of the 2018–19 fiscal year, the Jefferson Trust is excited to welcome James Aldigé as our new Vice-Chair. Although new to the Trust, James has been an active alumnus since his graduation from the College in 2003. He is a member of the Alumni Association’s Board of Managers, sits on the reunion giving committees (additionally serving as his 15th Reunion co-chair), participates in the Jefferson Scholars National Selection Committee and the Advisory Board for the UVA Licensing and Venture Group seed fund, is Co-chair of the David Magoon Jefferson Scholarship Initiative, and guest lectures at the Darden School of Business.

James considers his time at UVA impactful in helping to shape who he is today. “It gave me a chance to pursue a variety of interests, take on leadership roles, and make great friends. I believe in the mission of the University and its strong commitment to a campus-based undergraduate education and student self-governance.” As an undergraduate student, he was an Echols Scholar, lawn resident, a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, IMP Society, TILKA Society, 13 Society, and the Raven Society. Other involvements included Fourth Year Trustees, Inter-Fraternity Council community service chair, Big Sibling program director at Madison House, and Habitat for Humanity house coordinator.

After UVA, James went on to earn an MPhil in Economic History from Oxford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has worked in multiple capacities in the investment field, and currently is a Managing Partner of Clio Asset Management, an investment advisory firm based in Charlottesville. James is excited to be joining the Jefferson Trust.  “Having been a part of the Jefferson Scholar interview process for many years now, I always come away from those weekends with a renewed sense of optimism about our collective futures, based on the exceptional achievements and aspirations of the applicants. At the Trust, I am excited to see what talented students can achieve now that they are on Grounds and have the opportunity to put their ideas into action for the betterment of the community, and I look forward to playing a small role in that process.”

Words on Paper: Combining Science, Policy, and the Arts!

Words on Paper, a 2018 grant, is the brain child of Environmental Sciences Professor Deborah Lawrence. The concept involves undergraduate students studying the development of climate science history and climate policy history. With this knowledge, students create interactive art of key texts (“engagement experiments”) to share with the community on Grounds and eventually in Charlottesville high schools. Combining experiment with performance art, students will guide others through our country’s climate story, ultimately curating a series of art shows based on these shared experiences. The project has already started on Grounds, but funding from the Jefferson Trust will aide in taking the concept into area schools.

This past spring, tables were setup around Grounds asking people to participate in writing about the climate story, choosing from various prompts such as sharing a fact about the history of climate science, policy history, why they care about climate change, or how they are modifying their effect on climate change. Then, the class displayed these written responses in the Mural Room at Clark Hall, encouraging people to continue to add their thoughts on climate policy and change as the art was on display. Environmental Sciences Professor Scott Doney commented that the exhibit was “a good way of engaging people in an optimistic way and breaking down the polarizing debate that often surrounds discussions about climate change.”

The art installation was only the first step in this project according to Professor Lawrence. Next, the class took the pieces of paper from the exhibit in Clark and created art as a group project. “We’re going to show the potential impacts of climate change if action isn’t taken,” shared one student. Along with the art, the class participated in the Earth Week Expo, and the project will be taken off Grounds to work with area high schools to further share the climate story. “So far, we’ve touched 1,000 people, and we hope to go even further,” commented Professor Lawrence.

Developing Design Thinking at the Medical School

UVA’s Medical Design Program addresses the rapidly changing landscape of healthcare by teaching medical students design thinking as a framework for developing and leading new approaches to patient care throughout their careers.

“It’s more than a design course. You learn how to listen and what it means to truly empathize with a patient.”
—Dhruv Desai (SMD ’19)

Design thinking is a structured, team-based approach to problem solving and innovation that is widely taught, primarily in business schools. At UVA, the Medical Design Program offers first-year medical students the opportunity to use design thinking to improve patient care. Through a series of monthly hands-on ‘sprint-style’ design workshops and structured research experiences, students learn design-based approaches to clinically relevant skills like patient interviewing, synthesis of quantitative and qualitative research data, and use of prototypes to rapidly test and refine ideas in context of team-based healthcare environments. Students work directly with faculty physicians, patients, nursing, and other healthcare team members.

Since the 2015–16 academic year, teams of students have addressed topics such as: Preventing patient falls; Comfort in the Emergency Department waiting room; Transparency inpatient admissions; Reimagining the waiting room; Comfort and privacy for hallway bed patients; Empowering patients with information.  In addition to the impact on student learning, data gathered during these exercises has resulted in actions taken in patient-care and design concepts at the medical center.

The program has been highly successful and popular with students since inception, and interest continues to grow. In addition, course alumni join a growing community of medical designers at UVA. Throughout their time at the medical school, they can participate in special events on grounds and put their design training to work through summer experiences, ongoing involvement in the program as peer mentors and teaching assistants, fourth-year research electives, and work as physicians-in-training and emerging healthcare leaders.

UVA is one of only a handful of medical schools in the country offering this type of program, and is already emerging as a national leader in the concept of applying design thinking to medicine. The teaching team leading the initiative was invited to present at Stanford’s Medicine X conference in both 2016 and 2018. Jefferson Trust funding has allowed the program to get off the ground, and in 2017, additional funding was secured through the School of Medicine to develop open-access, online learning materials to bring design thinking education to a broader audience of UVA medical students as well as students and faculty at other medical schools. You can learn more about this fascinating program at uvamedical.design.

Presswork

Through a variety of technologies and experiential learning techniques, Presswork: A Program for Hands-on Historical Printing & Research, aims to foster cutting edge student- and faculty-led printing and research at the University of Virginia. The program trains undergraduate and graduate students in the history and art of letterpress and printing, which will be demonstrated to UVA classes, alumni, the general public, and K-12 students. These demonstrations help to expand UVA’s prominence as a leading research center in the history of printing by fostering greater community and experiential learning opportunities.

Key components of the two-year program include production of a short documentary on UVA’s unique historical printing presses, printers-in-residences opportunities, and a scholarship program allowing the Rare Book School to educate UVA students interested in learning about the history of printing. More public facing components involve a permanent exhibition at the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture on the history of printing technologies and their relevance to Thomas Jefferson’s understanding, public roundtable conversations led by internationally recognized printing experts, and free public open houses.

What makes Presswork such a unique opportunity is that very few universities have printing programs in place that are focused on contemporary book arts. Also, no other university in the world has two eighteenth-century period presses positioned side by side, allowing faculty, students, and visitors to compare letterpress and intaglio printing techniques and learn in a hands-on research setting.  For more information on Presswork events, watch on the Rare Book School website.

Trustee Spotlight: Victoria Harker

Victoria HarkerVictoria Harker has a long history with the Jefferson Trust. She had been a member of the Alumni Association’s Board of Managers for five years when she joined the Trust – she was there at the Trust’s inception and felt that it was only natural to become a Trustee to show her support and confidence in the effort.

Victoria chose UVA in 1982, in part because she aspired to become a lawyer, and because the University had one of the top five English Departments in the nation. She pursued an undergraduate degree in English with a concentration in Economics. After graduating in 1986, she spent several years working at a law firm, where she had the opportunity to help edit a legal book on business joint ventures. That experience was so fascinating she changed gears and ultimately earned her MBA in Finance in 1990 from American University. In addition to the Jefferson Trust, Victoria has served as Chair of the Board of Managers for the Alumni Association and has served a term on the Board of Visitors for the University of Virginia.

Victoria has been able to share her positive UVA experience with her younger sister Ellen (College ‘88), as well as her sons Zach (College ‘15), Ethan (Curry ‘18), and Benjamin (College ‘20). As a student, some of her favorite memories include watching Speidel, Goodrich and Goggin perform at the Mineshaft, as well as seeing concerts and watching the basketball team play in U Hall. She also had a great deal of fun sledding down O-Hill toward the Treehouse on cafeteria trays. Another favorite UVA memory was created last fall on the steps of the Rotunda, at the announcement of Jim Ryan as UVA’s President-elect. “After serving for over a year on the search committee, this was a huge honor and very inspiring,” she said. “I know Jim will lead the University into its next century with great distinction.”

As a Trustee, Victoria’s favorite grants have been ones that provide seed money directly to students to help them start up small ventures and evaluate their commercial capabilities. This comes as no surprise, considering her fascination with and professional background in finance and investment. After receiving her MBA in Finance, Victoria led an illustrious career as the Chief Financial Officer for several companies. She currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President for TENGA, Inc., a diversified media and digital marketing solutions company.

As she approaches the end of her six-year tenure as a Trustee, Victoria remains excited about the future of the Trust, particularly in its potential for new areas of investment and growth. “Serving on the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) Committee, I have seen what wonderful new areas investments like these can accelerate,” she said. “The Jefferson Trust is a student-facing investment fund and has great prospects to grow well into the future.” She also believes that the future investment climate will only continue to favor initiatives and organizations such as those funded by the Trust, as corporations and public institutions continue to look for areas to “put money to work,” particularly with regard to social justice and environmental conservation.