UVA President Jim Ryan Makes a Quick Visit to Norfolk Academy.
Was that really University of Virginia’s freshly minted President Jim Ryan stopping by the Norfolk Academy campus on Thursday evening? Yes, indeed, it was the Chief Wahoo on a quick visit to Virginia’s eighth oldest school, all arranged by Dr. L.D. Britt, who is a member of the UVA Board of Visitors and the Norfolk Academy Board of Trustees, as well as a Bulldog parent.
President Ryan, who was inaugurated in October as the ninth president in UVA’s 200-year history, arrived back in Virginia after a stint as the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As dean, he gave a commencement address that quickly went viral, and then turned it into a book, Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions. The book argues for the importance of asking questions, and it includes many stories from Ryan’s own life—both times that he asked questions and some humorous occasions when he didn’t ask, but realized in retrospect that a query would have served him well.
Before his time at Harvard, he served as the Matheson & Morgenthau Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia Law School. A first-generation college student himself, he attended Yale and UVA’s School of Law on scholarship, and he has already spoken about making UVA one of the best universities for first-generation and low- and middle-income students.
During his brief visit to NA, President Ryan first spoke with Headmaster Dennis Manning, Dr. Britt, and Norfolk Commissioner of the Revenue C. Evans Poston Jr., who was appointed by Gov. Ralph Northam to the UVA Board of Visitors in June. The Poston family is truly passionate about schools in hues of orange-and-blue: Commissioner Poston earned an MBA from UVA’s Darden School of Business, and he is married to Rebecca Deal Poston, a Norfolk Academy alum, Class of 1995, who is a “triple ’Hoo,” having earned three degrees from UVA, culminating in a Ph.D. in nursing. The Postons are also proud parents of an NA third grader.
President Ryan—a dedicated athlete and marathoner, who included a 5K community run in his inauguration weekend events and drew a turnout of 125 students when he tweeted an invitation to join him on one of his 6:30 a.m. runs around campus—met six of the Academy’s teacher-coaches who had served as captains of UVA teams. He had plenty of questions for them about their playing careers at UVA and their current work as teachers. He was also delighted to find out that quite a few Norfolk Academy teachers have earned, or are in the process of earning, master’s degrees through the UVA Curry School of Education, all fully-funded by Norfolk Academy’s professional development program.
The visit on Thursday evening came just hours before a mega-announcement by University of Virginia: The school will establish a School of Data Science, an initiative made possible in part by a $120 million gift—the largest private gift in the school’s history.
A big Bulldog welcome to President Jim Ryan—glad to have you back in Virginia and hope you return to NA soon!