service that can be rendered to a Country, next to that of giving it liberty,
is in diffusing the mental improvement equally essential to the preservation,
and the enjoyment of the blessing.
At the first meeting of the Board of Visitors following Jefferson's death on July 4, 1826, Madison was elected Rector. He struggled for the next eight years to hold the University together and maintain it in the character Jefferson gave it. He faced a hostile legislature in Richmond and faculty resignations, along with a myriad of other day-to-day administrative issues. Except for illness, he never missed meetings of the Board of Visitors or public examination periods, sometimes traveling from Montpelier to Charlottesville with his wife Dolley. Growing more feeble as the years passed, he postponed his resignation from the Board of Visitors, anxious that the step might be maliciously interpreted as a lack of concern for the University. By the time he retired as Rector in 1834, he was an invalid.
the early years of the University when only one professor was appointed
per subject area, a resignation could cause enrollment to drop disastrously.
Among the letters documenting Madison's efforts to retain faculty and
recruit distinguished professors is this description of his plea to the
London University Council to postpone the departure of George Long, the
first professor of ancient languages, who had resigned to take up a new
position at London University.