BOV Advancement Committee discusses philanthropy, bicentennial preparations

Donation amounts increase, committee helping U.Va. Clubs participate in bicentennial off-Grounds

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The Board of Visitors’ Advancement committee met Friday afternoon to discuss proposals to increase innovation and philanthropy, as well as the overall state of donation to the University.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

The Board of Visitors Advancement Committee met March 3 to discuss proposals to increase innovation and philanthropy, as well as the overall level of donations to the University.

The committee also discussed bicentennial celebration preparations for U.Va. Clubs around the U.S. and internationally.

The first guest speaker was Eric Martin, interim director and co-founder of the Galant Center for Entrepreneurship, who introduced a preliminary idea of a competition involving University schools and students to drive innovation by “solving the world’s hardest problems.”

Martin proposed a possible investment by the University of $1 million per year or a $20 million endowment to fund teams and the program itself.

He said that having a competition like the one proposed would improve the University's entrepreneurial development of startup companies.

"[This] would probably put us in the same league as universities like Rice of competitions like 43North," Martin said. "We have to push it forward far enough to gain the interest and respect of other people."

43North is a $5 million startup competition based in Buffalo, NY.

Next, an update was provided on preparations for the University’s bicentennial celebrations, with a focus on how the University will help U.Va. Clubs participate off-Grounds.

The Bicentennial Commission is working with 20 University club leaders to brainstorm ideas for regional activities, according to Associate Vice President for Engagement and Annual Giving Cynthia Fredrick.

Clubs will receive a “party-in-a-box” that contains event ideas and bicentennial decorations to supplement regionally-specific activities and a possible livestream of the gala to be held the night of Oct 6. The gala will commemorate the laying of the University cornerstone that took place on Oct. 6, 1817.

Fredrick said the University is “still trying to figure out the details on the live streaming.”

The Bicentennial Commission is currently trying to organize social media campaigns as well to “give alumni students, parents and friends the ability to share U.Va. pride,” Fredrick said.

Vice President for Advancement Mark Luellan then gave a report on donations to the University.

New commitments are on the rise, reaching $185 million between July 2016 and January 2017 according to Luellan — a 56 percent increase over the same period last year. A major factor driving this growth is where the University is soliciting donations.

“We’re spending a lot more time on gifts of $1 million or more,” Luellan said. “We do have gift conversations underway on the eight or nine figure level.”

Committee Chair John Griffin ended the meeting with an update on the Bicentennial Scholars Fund scholarships.

There are over 50 conversations currently happening, each to create scholarships with base values of $100,000, according to Griffin. Each scholarship is named by the person funding it.

“People name scholarships after favorite professors, friends at U.Va and other fun names that create a community feeling,” Griffin said.

The Board originally approved $300 million for the Bicentennial Scholars Fund, and that goal is within reach according to Griffin.

“We are on our way to the first $300 million,” Griffin said.

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