Bicentennial commission outlines celebration plans

Students, faculty can submit proposals, apply for grants to implement ideas


The University Bicentennial Commission held a community meeting Tuesday to discuss plans for the University’s bicentennial and how the University community can participate in the celebration activities, which start in October.

The commission includes 131 alumni, faculty and students who are responsible for coordinating the events that will take place throughout the celebration, which will include “elements of rigorous academic activity, research and scholarship in addition to celebratory and social elements,” according to a document shared at the meeting.

The commission has already planned various programs starting Friday, Oct. 6 with a commemoration of the laying of the University cornerstone.

The cornerstone was laid Oct. 6, 1817 with Presidents James Monroe, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in attendance.

While the event is “not a literal reenactment,” the commission is “working with numerous groups to come up with a program,” Bicentennial Executive Director Kari Evans said.

There will also be a gala the night of Oct. 6, which Evans said will be a “celebration through the arts” with the Univeristy “tapping into our students and staff,” as well as hopefully bringing in major names.

The gala will also feature light mapping on the Rotunda and a late night concert targeted towards students.

“The gala is open to the community,” Evans said. “We hope that people will travel to the University to participate.”

The commission is aiming for an attendance of 15,000 to 20,000 people.

The University is “working with the Lawn students to have an open house or exhibition,” as well as a two mile run or walk through Grounds, Saturday Oct. 7., Evans said.

The commission is also exploring the possibly having a live show with BackStory with the American History Guys, a popular public radio program.

The commission introduced a way for University groups such as schools, departments or student organizations to propose events for the celebration and secure grants from the University administration.

An overview from the commission said event proposals are supposed to “explore the University’s past, present, and/or future and contribute to the commemoration and celebration.”

Awards from the University for proposals are ranked in two categories — those under $1,000 and those from $1,000 to $20,000. Grants of over $20,000 may be considered for “projects of transformative ambition that promise to contribute in significant ways to the University,” according to the commission.

Event proposals are not limited to specific types of events, Evans said, but can include “symposia, seminars, publications, events, exhibitions and other public events.”

The commission also emphasized the idea of involving students academically in the bicentennial.

“We really encourage the idea of involving students for academic credit,” commission co-chair Robert Battle said.

Battle stressed the opportunities the bicentennial offers for the University to engage with the Charlottesville community, especially in order “to foster a sense of inclusiveness,” he said.

related stories