Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia (UVA) in 1819, which he considered to be one of his greatest achievements. Jefferson envisioned a new kind of public university, one dedicated to educating leaders in practical affairs and public service. Widely known as one of America’s most accomplished innovators, Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, advocated for religious freedom, brokered the Louisiana Purchase and served as the United States’ first commissioner and inspector of patents. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”– Thomas Jefferson He was closely involved in every aspect of the University’s original design, from planning the curriculum to recruiting the first faculty. Three U.S. presidents, James Madison, James Monroe and Jefferson, presided over the laying of the University’s cornerstone in 1817. Jefferson designed the Academical Village, a terraced green space called the Lawn and the surrounding residential and academical buildings and gardens. The Academical Village, as well as Jefferson’s home Monticello, are global treasures and UNESCO World Heritage sites. At the North End of the Lawn stands the Rotunda, a symbol of the University. UVA was the first university in the United States to use the elective course system. The University includes 11 schools in Charlottesville, as well as the College at Wise in southwest Virginia. More than 21,000 students are enrolled at UVA. UVA remains the No. 2 best public university in the 2014 edition of U.S. News and World Report rankings. In the 14 years since U.S. News began ranking public universities, UVA has ranked either No. 1 or No. 2.