Mead Money: 'Boots' fans push all profs to sup with students

The former students of Ernest "Boots" Mead are a determined lot. They were so enchanted by their time with music professor emeritus Mead outside the classroom that they created an endowment to fund the student/faculty interaction they believe is so essential to the UVA experience.

Last year, the 10-year-old endowment announced it had raised $1 million to fund faculty "dream ideas" in honor of Mead. But the Mead-ites are not resting on their laurels.

This year, at its September 15 annual dinner, the Mead Endowment announced it is giving all 750 or so College of Arts and Sciences professors $20 in "Mead Money." The currency can be used for lunch, dinner, or coffee in any university dining facility– as long as the prof has a student in tow.

Mead is pleased with the tribute.

"Any way you can get faculty and students together outside the classroom is great," says the 94-year-old scholar.

The Mead Endowment funded 11 faculty dream ideas this year. For example, Assistant Professor Hanadi Al-Samman's project will enrich her “Culture and Society of the Contemporary Arab Middle East” course with a series of eight culture nights featuring films, talks with citizens, and food from different countries.

And Mead isn't the only professor who has inspired his students. This year for the first time, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences professors were invited to compete for dream idea funding due to the creation of a new endowment in honor of the late and beloved Henry Lee Kinnier.

Mead Money is a currency that urges teachers to "walk in the footsteps of Boots." But it also cautions: "Change will not be given, but change could happen."

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1 comment

What a tribute! How wonderful to know that the tradition continues, and in such a creative way! And of course, in typical "What would Mr. Jefferson think?" fashion, I am touched by the degree to which Mr. Mead's style, and the style his "fans" seek to promote, is a fit with Jefferson's idea for an Academical Village.

Wouldn't it be fun if somebody set up a blog where the professor and student who socialize via the $20 each write a bit about their experience? I bet Mr. Mead would really enjoy reading that, and so would everybody else..