Can you feel the excitement, the spirit–the absolute joy? Jim Todd gives us something to smile about as he shares his sentiments on the buzz around Grounds. Mr. Todd is a lecturer in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia.
The word “joy” has surfaced a lot the last few days here on the Grounds. It’s reflected in the faces of the men’s basketball team and its coaching staff and in our own as we take joy in their extraordinary accomplishments, made all the more en-joy-able because they are such fine representatives of UVA. But it is also a reflection of the joy of living in Charlottesville at this time of year.
First it was the daffodils by the bus stop at the Student Health Center, blooming much too soon in mid-February, at the same time as the Scotch broom behind Dawson’s Row and along Jefferson Park Avenue. Eventually there were more daffodils in front of Fayerweather Hall, and then, suddenly, the huge northern magnolia between the Rotunda and Brooks Hall and the one near McGuffey Cottage burst into bloom, their deep, dark pink blossoms turning slowly to white. Meanwhile the pear trees along Copeley and Massie Roads peaked and too quickly started to turn green, and yellow forsythia seemed to be everywhere. Cherry blossoms are now just past their prime, with the weeping cherry trees still to come (there’s a glorious one I visit every year in the passageway between Randall Hall and the Pavilion X garden wall). The camelia bushes behind Jefferson Hall, which have to be some of the largest anywhere, have survived another winter and are covered with blossoms. And as if that were not enough, we still have the red bud, the tulips, and the dogwood to come. It is the season of renewal, a truly joyful time of the year.
Fittingly at this moment in the spring semester, just as fourth year students wander the Grounds in “professional dress” coming from or going to job interviews, the Grounds are overrun with Days on the Lawn attendees, those lucky high and prep school seniors who have been granted admission to our University, intermingled with some juniors, with their parents, just starting to look at colleges and universities. I walk through the Grounds with a perpetual smile on my face and joy in my heart, surrounded by these signs of renewal. Now in my seventy-fifth year, fifty years out of law school and twenty-six years from the glorious May day when I marched down the Lawn to receive my Ph.D. in Government, I revel in yet another spring and yet another new group of students, some of whom will be in my American Government class in the fall. I am so thankful – and lucky – to be here where the students seem to be nicer every year and more accomplished, eager to get their education and to put their remarkable abilities to work to make our country and the world a better place.
When Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in September of 1787, a woman asked him whether we had a republic or a democracy. “A republic,” he replied, “if you can keep it.” Some think that we are nearing the end of our republic, that we have not done what we need to keep it, that things are not going well both at home and all over the world. Being here at our University though, where joy is in the air, surrounded by our students and our student athletes, and the caring faculty and administrators who dedicate their lives to educating, coaching, and mentoring them, I can only be optimistic about the future, and that, more than anything in this season of spring and renewal and UVA in the Final Four, is a reason for great joy indeed.
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