News / USA

Backdrop of Kerry's First Speech as Secretary of State Rich in Its Own History

Backdrop of Kerry's First Speech as Secretary of State Rich in Its Own Historyi
X
February 20, 2013 12:37 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chose the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for his first speech ((Wed. 2/20)) as secretary of state. The university, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson in the early 19th century, is one of the oldest in the country and is rich in American history. VOA's Carolyn Presutti shows us why.

Backdrop of Kerry's First Speech as Secretary of State Rich in Its Own History

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chose the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for his first speech, Wednesday, February 20, 2013, as secretary of state. The university, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson in the early 19th century, is one of the oldest in the country and is rich in American history.

Column after white column.  Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian stand before a backdrop of red brick. Serpentine Walls and domes round out the architecture of the University of Virginia, designed by the nation's third president, Thomas Jefferson.

A statue of Jefferson overlooks the grounds that carry reminders of a time long ago. Jefferson was also the first secretary of state, appointed by the nation's first president, George Washington. Alexander Gilliam is the school's history officer.

“After the Revolutionary War, he was appointed Minister of France - minister would be equivalent to ambassador now - and when he came back, Washington asked him to be secretary of state," said Gilliam.

Jefferson was a visionary, who ignored the tradition of building a school around a church. Instead, the university was designed around a library housed in this rotunda, a one-fourth sized model of the Pantheon in Rome.

This was Jefferson's favorite view of the university - out the center window at the top of the rotunda dome to the lawn.

The lawn is nearly a hectare long....and is the focus of what's called the academic village, a grouping of buildings. Students and professors both live along the sides of the lawn and some classes take place here.

Jefferson promoted global knowledge. A practice carried on by the university's vice provost of global affairs, Jeff Legro.

“Jefferson was an iconoclast [non-conformist] in terms of fierce independence," said Legro. "But he was a student of the world. To better understand U.S. challenges, he also looked at how others handled their challenges.”

As an international student, Jonathan Lim reaps the rewards of that global viewpoint.

“I'm from Singapore," said Lim. "I think being here at this university and getting to hear him firsthand, about American foreign policy from within the American perspective really gives me a lot to think about. Really prepares me to serve my own community, wherever I am in the future.”

Thomas Jefferson was in his 70s when he started to work on the university design. He called it his hobby of old age. Today, his hobby enrolls 21,000 students and ranks number- two out of the nation's public institutions.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid