My very first encounter with the University of Virginia School of Law took place in a hotel room in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2000. The hotel was full to bursting with faculty hiring committees from law schools around the country, there to interview aspiring law professors like me. Over two long days, I met with 20 different schools. After my half-hour interview with six members of the UVA Law faculty, I knew Virginia was special.
The 15 years I have now spent at the Law School have repeatedly validated and reinforced that initial impression. The intellectual community here combines qualities too rarely seen together: It is ideologically and methodologically diverse while also collegial and open. It is invigorating and challenging while also supportive and constructive. The reason our faculty produce first-rate scholarship is because what they write has been explored, tested and improved by colleagues committed to the success of every member of our scholarly community.
The Virginia model of intellectual exchange that I credit with my own development as a scholar has fostered success far beyond Charlottesville. That is because it is about cultivating the academic promise of our students as much as that of our faculty. Through research collaborations, student-faculty scholarly workshops, and the kind of individualized mentoring to which our faculty is deeply committed, we help our students see themselves not only as practitioners of the law, but also lifetime students of it. As they become educators and scholars in their own right, they serve as ambassadors for the Virginia way.
This issue of UVA Lawyer highlights this unique intellectual community of faculty, students and alumni, and the appreciable effect it has had on the legal academy. More than 500 UVA Law alumni have dispersed across the country as scholars, teachers, administrators and leaders in higher education. These currently include 11 law school deans, seven university presidents and dozens of full-time law faculty.
This same intellectual culture deserves credit for much of what you will read about our students, faculty and alumni in this issue. At a time when the fracturing of civil discourse preoccupies many, the Law School remains a place where people with different viewpoints come together, listen carefully and respectfully to one another, and seek common ground. It is no surprise, then, that our students win national awards and our alumni national elections; that our students are eager to serve the public throughout their time here and our alumni are eager to pay forward their accumulated wisdom to the students who follow them.
That our graduates cross the political aisle and serve the rule of law and the public in so many capacities is a testament to our aspirations and our culture. Such leadership and service reminds us of the unique role we have long played in American law, governance and society. So long as we remain committed to our core values of joy, humanity, respect, dialogue, collaboration and community across difference, it is a role we will continue to play far into the future.