$1 Million Gift Honors Outgoing Education Dean David Breneman

May 8, 2007 -- Daniel Meyers, a Boston businessman who chairs the Curry School of Education Foundation board, recently pledged a $1 million challenge gift to name the courtyard between the current and future education buildings in honor of dean David W. Breneman.

Breneman, who has served as dean for 12 years, will step down in June. He will oversee the planning and implementation for the new Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, until a founding dean is hired. He will continue to teach courses next year in the higher education program at Curry. Robert C. Pianta, the Novartis U.S. Foundation Professor of Education, will succeed him as the eighth dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, beginning July 1.

“I was surprised and delighted by this additional gift from board chair Dan Meyers,” Breneman said, “and impressed by the symbolism of the gift. The Breneman Courtyard will serve as the link between Ruffner and Bavaro Halls, as the two buildings are joined into the new Curry School complex. Meyers’ generosity is simply unprecedented for a school of education, and we are all deeply in his debt.”

Meyers is the chairman of Sextant Holdings LLC, a private investment entity. Previously, he co-founded and served as chairman and chief executive officer of the First Marblehead Corporation, a NYSE-listed education finance company, which to date has provided roughly $10 billion in assistance to students in the United States. With gifts totaling $25 million, including $22 million in 2004 toward the new education building, Meyers is the Curry School’s most generous donor.

"To Curry, David Breneman has been a scholar, a leader, a transformational dean,” said Meyers. “To me, he has been a great friend. I am tremendously proud of his accomplishments at Curry and it has been a privilege to work with him during his tenure. The courtyard between Ruffner and Bavaro halls is a perfect vehicle to name for him,” Meyers added, “as it represents the progression the school makes toward its bright future.”

The $37.2 million facility will be called Bavaro Hall, after Meyers’ family friend, Anthony D. “Wally” Bavaro, a public school teacher and coach whom he greatly admired. Meyers also endowed a professorship in the Curry School. With this new pledge, Meyers will match donor gifts one to one up to $1 million.

The firm of Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York is designing the 60,000-square-foot building to give a more traditional and Jeffersonian facade to the education school in its visible location on the University’s Central Grounds. Bavaro will add almost double the space to the Curry School. Construction is slated to begin in late 2007 with completion scheduled for 2010.

Bavaro Hall will house faculty offices, the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services, and research space for faculty and students. It will be linked by walkways to the existing Ruffner Hall, which will be renovated to provide state-of-the-art classrooms, as well as clinics and graduate student offices.

A two-story area in Bavaro, to be called the Commons, will open to the landscaped courtyard, adding much needed public gathering space “at the very heart of the school,” Breneman said.