Annual Founder’s Day celebrations honor Jefferson’s 271st birthday

New and recurring events promote Jefferson’s vision for a public university


In anticipation of University founder Thomas Jefferson’s 271st birthday on Sunday, April 13, the University and Monticello have organized a series of events aimed at celebrating the nation’s third president and author of the Declaration of Independence throughout the week.

The calendar includes fundraising drives, speeches, parties, a competition and the annual appearance of the Society of the Purple Shadows on the Lawn.

Fundraising for need-based scholarships

The University Advancement Office will partner with the University Bookstore to raise money for need-based student scholarships Thursday through Sunday in a new event, #TJBDAY — an online talent competition and fundraising campaign.

The talent competition features 12 student finalists who submitted short YouTube videos, including trick dives, drumming and playing the ukulele. The winner will be determined by a voting process in which each dollar pledged on behalf of a video earns one vote. The competition is open from 10 a.m. Thursday until midnight Friday, while the online donation campaign for scholarships will continue through the weekend.

Each dollar pledged to vote in the competition will be matched through a challenge grant from John Griffin, a 1985 Commerce School graduate and Board of Visitors member. Griffin made the $4 million pledge in February of this year to support AccessUVa, the University’s financial aid program, after the Board voted to limit funding in August and include both grants and loans in all aid packages.

“[The idea was to] engage with talented students with a challenge and competition and engage alumni, students [and] friends to encourage them to vote [in the form of giving],” said event coordinator Ryan Catherwood, director of engagement strategy at University Advancement.

In addition, the University Bookstore will donate 25 percent of all revenue from in-store sales made Thursday through Sunday to need-based student scholarships.

Thomas Jefferson Medals

The 2014 Thomas Jefferson Medal recipients will receive their medals at a public ceremony Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Dome Room of the Rotunda. This year’s medalists are Toyo Ito for Architecture, Kenneth R. Feinberg for Law and James Webb, Jr. for Citizen Leadership.

University President Teresa Sullivan and Thomas Jefferson Foundation CEO and president Leslie Greene Bowman will present the medals.

The medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which does not grant honorary degrees, and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which is the private non-profit organization which owns and operates Monticello. They are awarded annually to recognize achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson excelled and held in high regard.

Ito is a Tokyo-based architect widely known for designing the Sendai Mediatheque, a public museum and library in Sendai, Japan. Feinberg is an attorney who administered the compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech and the Boston Marathon bombings. Webb is a former democratic U.S. Senator and former Secretary of the Navy, a decorated Vietnam veteran and a successful author, journalist and filmmaker. Each will give a public talk at the University later this week.

“We are very excited to have Jim Webb here this year — like Jefferson, he has demonstrated citizen leadership in multiple fields,” Thomas Jefferson Foundation spokesperson Amy Atticks said.

Webb will speak at the Batten School on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. The medal for citizen leadership was added in 2007 in collaboration with the Batten School.

A joint committee of representatives from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the Architecture School, the Law School, the Batten School and former medalists deliberate and select recipients each year.

Public Day at OpenGrounds

One new event this year will be student presentations of research at the OpenGrounds studio, where students ranging from first years to doctoral candidates will have the opportunity to showcase their work Friday evening. During the next week, 28 other student projects will also be on display.

Organized by the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President for Research, the event will replace the Presidential Poster Competition. Public Day is intended to evoke a 19th century University tradition when graduating students would gather in the Rotunda to receive their exam grades and present their work in a public ceremony.

Students have been nominated by their departments.
This year, the 13 presentations will “showcase the breadth of research at the University,”and “celebrate the initial idea of the University,” according to Jane Hepler, the OpenGrounds Project Manager.

Published April 10, 2014 in FP test, News

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