Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)

First Advisor

Hillier, Amy

Second Advisor

Ammon, Francesca Russello


This thesis explores the University of Virginia’s (UVa) rapid enrollment growth and physical expansion between 1945 and 1980. Despite the university’s contentious and increasing presence in Charlottesville, this time period at UVa remains largely unstudied by scholars. Expanding upon existing research on universities in the postwar era, this study uses a range of quantitative, qualitative, and spatial methods to examine university intent and impacts on the surrounding community. UVa’s post-World War II expansion emerged from a period where university leadership sought to maintain the insularity of Jefferson’s academical village through the exploitation of Black labor. To grow the university and increase its national standing, Colgate Darden, Jr., UVa’s new president in 1947, pursued a series of calculated building investments that departed from prewar development patterns. As student enrollment increased at an unprecedented rate, UVa leadership became increasingly reliant on the private housing market, resulting in the studentification of the surrounding area. Community members became increasingly resentful of the university as it transformed Charlottesville’s built environment and encroached upon their neighborhoods. Although UVa largely grew its footprint within the confines of its existing land holdings, the university’s prioritization of prestige and the mixed socioeconomic outcomes that resulted is consistent with broader themes in the literature on postwar university expansion. This thesis lays the groundwork for future mixed-methods research and discussions of equity with regard to universities and anchor institutions more broadly.


Concentration: History and Culture of Cities