The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Restore our Rotunda

The General Assembly's refusal to extend funding to the restoration of the Rotunda is a discouraging oversight of our duty to protect this historic site as citizens of Virginia, the United States and the world.

The reasons for restoration are both symbolic and utilitarian. The Rotunda is deeply symbolic; for almost 200 years it has been the centerpiece of student life. It is Thomas Jefferson's "Temple of Knowledge," the symbol in front of which students enter and exit his university. It is as much a part of the identity of any UVA student as is the honor code.

But the Rotunda's historical significance is not isolated to Charlottesville; it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one located at a university in the United States. People travel from all over the world to marvel at Jefferson's educational and architectural vision. This in turn encourages tourism and generates revenue for the state, which is just one of several utilitarian reasons for restoration.

The Rotunda is not just some intangible symbol on University letterheads. It is a used space. Another unique aspect of the site's UNESCO status is that it is the only World Heritage Site in the United States that is fully functional. It is not a history of red ropes and closed doors; rather, the Rotunda continues to serve the Jeffersonian vision of a multi-purpose space.\nClasses, lectures, dinners and meetings all still go on in the heart of Grounds. It is a living history. Keeping our historic buildings beautiful and useful, especially the Rotunda, is as important, if not more so, than new construction, which the state seems far more apt to fund.

Jefferson wrote that he envisioned the University as the "future bulwark of the human mind in this hemisphere." The elegant cornerstone of that bulwark is his Rotunda, the symbolic and practical center of the school. Student groups, including the University Guide Service, have fundraised for the restoration; however, this is an effort that students cannot tackle alone. We, as students, ask you to join us in working to protect Thomas Jefferson's school and its gem: the Rotunda.

Walker McKusick\n CLAS II\n UGS Historian

Jeffrey Webb\n CLAS IV\n UGS Chair