Historic UVA Tree Taken Down

Posted: Updated: Jan 21, 2008 05:45 PM EST

If trees could talk, they'd have a lot to say. Like the one taken down Monday at the University of Virginia. It had 100 years of history, but branch-by-branch it was gone with the sound of a saw.

The tree, which is located near UVA's Cabell Hall, has seen changes many of the current students can only imagine.

"It [UVA] was probably a lot less diverse as far as minorities and international students," said Patrick Kerney, a third year UVA student.

Kerney's guess about life on grounds when the tree was a sapling is close to the truth. Sandy Gilliam serves as the assistant to university's president, but saw the university breakout of that mold in the 1950s.

"The first African American students were here when I arrived as a student," said Gilliam.

At the time, black students were not the only minority.

"There were so few women students here that all of us did what we called road trips. You went to one of the women's colleges and that's where you went to date on weekends," said Gillliam.

Currently, women make up more than 50 percent of the school's incoming classes. Gilliam says the university continues to branch into new areas and changes that seemed radical to some when this tree was half it's size.

"I think it seems so commonplace now that people don't give it a second thought," he said.

The school is taking the tree down because the trunk and roots are rotting. Officials were concerned it could fall into traffic on Jefferson Park Avenue.

Reported by Joanna Shrewsbury
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