Bill Gorman (Engr ’82) understands the power of connection. He studied electrical engineering as an undergraduate. But while living on the Lawn, he discovered how connection makes meaning, builds friendships, and creates community. It’s why Gorman considers the Lawn a second home, and it’s why he accepted the Lawn Alumni Challenge to sponsor his former room at 52 East Lawn.
As a first-year, Gorman set foot on Grounds sight unseen. The unusual introduction was the result of an 11th-hour application and change of plans. But he quickly found his footing, and by his fourth year was selected to live on the Lawn.
“It was the best year of my life,” said Gorman, who then quickly added, “Minus my marriage and the births of my children!”
For Gorman, living on the Lawn created lasting bonds. He points to the friends he made, with whom he still keeps in touch and sees during Reunions, as well as during visits with family, including his sister, Jill Gorman Turner (Col ’88, Curry ’91).
It was the best year of my life!”
Part of the charm was in the very structure of the Academical Village itself, with professors and students living together.
“I was able to get to know professors more deeply,” he said. He knew many, including William H. Muller Jr., M.D., then vice president for health affairs, who lived in Pavilion X with his wife, Hildwin. “She was the nicest woman. She was probably my grandmother’s age, and brought us cookies.” Gorman learned friendly gestures defined the culture of the Lawn.
Another favorite couple were Peggy and Ed (Edwin E. Floyd, vice president and provost), who lived in Pavilion II. Floyd would invite students to watch Cavalier basketball games at the pavilion where they had cable television. “That was when Ralph Sampson was playing, which was an exciting time,” said Gorman.
Living among the history of the Lawn, and its connection to the past, was transformational. The simple act of walking out your front door meant coming face to face with the Rotunda, always an awe-inspiring sight, especially at night. “Being there on the Lawn was important for me,” Gorman said. “How could a person live there for a year and not be changed? It just couldn’t happen!”
After UVA, Gorman started working for an ambitious new company in Tysons Corner, Virginia, called America Online. It was 1992. Soon he’d be swept up in the exciting technological and cultural explosion of the early internet age.
Following his years with AOL, and a few entrepreneurial ventures, Gorman now enjoys “semi-retirement.” His most important pastimes are the low-tech joys of family life and traveling with his wife and children. Gorman reckons he and his family have visited about 40 countries, and he’s learned that half the value of travel is in coming home.
The same is true for him of UVA. He’s attended all of his Reunions, and is still eager to connect with other Lawnies. “Every time I’m there,” Gorman said, “I knock on my old door.”
The Jeffersonian Grounds played an integral role in Gorman’s life, giving him indelible friendships. He’s grateful for his time there. He and his wife, Karen, decided to make a gift to 52 East Lawn as an expression of that gratitude. He’s pleased his gift will help preserve the Jeffersonian Grounds, making it possible for others to make their own lifelong connections.
Learn more about the Lawn Alumni Challenge at giving.virginia.edu/lawnalumnichallenge