From the Cavalier:

While the University is home to 72 academic departments, the classics department has the honor of being one of Jefferson's original 10 academic disciplines. Initially known as the School of Ancient Languages, the department has since changed its name -- and much more -- while still maintaining consistencies with the past.

"In Jefferson's time, [the School of Ancient Languages] taught Latin, Greek and Hebrew," Classics Department Chair John Miller said. "Today, we offer courses in Greek, Latin and various aspects of classical civilization."

In addition, Miller mentioned that, in the University's early years, students were required to study Latin.

"Obviously, the percentage today is somewhat lower," Miller said. "But nevertheless, hundreds of students take courses in classics every semester."

One of these students, second-year College student Will Killmer, said his interest in classics stemmed from high school.

"It had a lot to do with my Latin teacher in high school," Killmer said. "He was really excited about the material and energetic about it. He got me into it and encouraged me to get into it and go a step further."

Killmer said the classics department faculty at the University has continued this trend for him.

"The professors really like what they're doing," Killmer said. "They're enthusiastic and like interacting with the students, and that carries over. It makes it a more fun learning environment and motivates people to get into the material."

Miller also mentioned the classics faculty: He said one of the continuities the department has maintained since its inception is employing faculty who have been leaders in the profession.

We have "a world-class faculty which has a broad range of interests within the classical world -- in fact, it extends chronologically from Archaic Greek to the Latin Middle Ages."

Reflective of this broad range of interests, the classics department offers a wide range of courses. Another offering of the department, according to both Miller and Killmer, is a strong sense of community.

The classics department "is a little smaller than some of the other departments, so you really get to know all the professors after you've taken three, four semesters of classes," Killmer said. "And they can know you better too. You get to know the other majors pretty well, so it's like a sub-community. I like it a lot."

There are also other facets of the department that draw students to classics.

"I would say that I think students are attracted, in the first instance, by an interest in languages," Miller said. "Secondly, many would be intrigued by the challenge of studying rigorous languages or just learning in the original language what the ancient authors -- like Homer or Virgil -- have to say."

Miller said another attractive feature of the University's department in particular is the recent changes. The department has just moved into the renovated Cocke Hall, where the new facilities include a departmental library.

"The study of classics at the University continues on the upswing," Miller said. "I'm happy to be a part of it."