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Money raiser housed on Lawn

- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2007

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The University of Virginia is allowing its chief fundraiser to move into one of the prestigious homes on the Lawn, which for nearly two centuries has been reserved for scholars.

The Board of Visitors executive committee unanimously approved Robert D. Sweeney's request to move into one of the coveted Pavilion residences designed by Thomas Jefferson and built in 1824.

"Mr. Sweeney has long been an active member of the university community, contributing on a daily basis to making the university's current level of excellence possible and to envisioning our goals and aspirations for the future," said university Rector W. Heywood Fralin, who sits on the executive committee.

Mr. Sweeney, senior vice president for development and academic affairs, is responsible for overseeing the school's $3 billion capital campaign. The university's philanthropic cash flow jumped from $50 million in 1990 to $200 million in 2000 under his leadership.

Only one other Pavilion is occupied by a nonacademic — Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president for student affairs. But critics said that was appropriate because of her connection to the student body.

In the coming months, Mr. Sweeney and his wife will move into Pavilion VI, a six-bedroom, four-bathroom residence that features historic fresco murals exclusive to the home.

The initial consideration of Mr. Sweeney's request last spring angered many students living on the Lawn, some of whom taped on their doors red signs that read: "For Sale. Inquire with BOV. Cozy, Rustic, Jeffersonian! No interaction with students necessary."

The Lawn traditionally has been a place of teaching, learning and the free exchange of information between academics and students, said Mike Slaven, a student who lived on the Lawn. The move shows that fundraising has become as important to the school as academia, Mr. Slaven said.

"This is a complete change of precedent," he said. "It says this is not the Academical Village anymore."

Despite the criticism, Mr. Fralin, said Mr. Sweeney will fit in nicely with his Lawn neighbors.

Other residents of the Lawn's Pavilions are Larry J. Sabato, a professor of politics and director of the university's Center for Politics; Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture; Carl Paul Zeithaml, dean of the McIntire School of Commerce; and David W. Breneman, dean of the Curry School of Education.