University of Virginia

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The University of Virginia (also The University,[4] Mr. Jefferson's University, or Virginia; often abbreviated as U.Va. or UVA) is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson. Conceived by 1800 and established in 1819, it is the only university in the United States to be designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, an honor it shares with nearby Monticello.

The University is notable in U.S. history for being the first educational institution to offer academic programs in disciplines now common, such as astronomy and philosophy.[citation needed] Its School of Engineering and Applied Science was the first engineering school in the United States to be part of a comprehensive university.[5] Officially, the University of Virginia is incorporated as The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia.

The early Board of Visitors was filled with former Presidents of the United States: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Although Jefferson undertook all planning of the University, the land underneath it was once a farm belonging to Monroe. His farmhouse was located on Monroe Hill, which today is the site of one of three undergraduate residential colleges.

The 2011 edition of U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Virginia as the 2nd best public university (tied with UCLA) in the United States, and the overall 25th best university in the nation (tied with Wake Forest University and UCLA).[6] The University is notable for having highly ranked programs including its law school (Ranked 10th), and undergraduate and graduate business schools (Ranked 5th and 13th respectively). The University is one of the eight original Public Ivies.

Historical secret societies such as Seven, IMP, and Z are very active; as are two rival literary and debating societies, the Jefferson Society and Washington Society. Many students live in residential colleges such as Brown College, Hereford College and the International Residential College. Yet some aspects of student life are more recognizable to those familiar with other universities across the nation, as there are also fraternities and sororities, and the athletic teams participate in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. Notably the University has had the highest African American graduation rate of all public universities in the United States for 15 years running. Achieving a graduation rate of 87% for its black students, UVA topped its nearest public rival, the University of North Carolina, by 11 percentage points in 2009.[7][8]

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