Benefactors Fund First Two Jefferson Scholars Foundation Chaired Professorships

August 24, 2012

Weeks after University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan identified faculty recruitment and retention as her top priority for the coming academic year, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation has unveiled a new tool to help achieve that goal.

The foundation’s board of directors, meeting last week, announced the creation of two Jefferson Scholars Foundation Endowed Professorships – marking the first time the foundation has ventured into faculty support. Each of the endowed chairs is funded by $5 million commitments from longtime benefactors of the foundation, Paul T. Jones and David C. Walentas.

The Paul T. Jones Jefferson Scholars Foundation Professorship and the Walentas Family Jefferson Scholars Foundation Professorship ”will enable the University of Virginia to compete on the world stage for truly remarkable faculty,” James H. Wright, the foundation’s president, said. ”When strategically employed, they will significantly enhance the standing and prestige of the schools and departments these individuals will serve.”

Jones and Walentas have been significant benefactors and supporters of the foundation for more than 25 years, supporting both the undergraduate Jefferson Scholars Program and the graduate Jefferson Fellows Program. Their gifts create two of what the foundation hopes to be a series of chaired professorships to be strategically employed by the president and provost to attract world-class scholars to the University faculty.

“The foundation is extraordinarily grateful for the generosity of both Mr. Jones and Mr. Walentas,” Wright said.

Moffett Cochran, who chairs the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Board of Directors, said, “The potential impact of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation chairs and their holders is immense – indeed, transformative. We expect these individuals to be exceptional teachers, dedicated to providing the very best learning experience for the thousands of undergraduate students whom they will teach. We will also expect these professors to be leading-edge researchers in their respective disciplines. And we anticipate that they will be active participants in the Jefferson Scholars Foundation community, helping the foundation select scholarship and fellowship recipients by serving on our interviewing committees and participating with us in other ways.”

The move toward funding faculty chairs is a first for the foundation, which has long provided scholarships to outstanding undergraduate and graduate students, Wright said.

“The Jefferson Scholars Foundation has developed an excellent track record of identifying and recruiting outstanding students, both undergraduate and graduate, to the Grounds,” Wright said. “The mission of the foundation has always been to attract outstanding ‘individuals’ to the University, and the opportunity to expand our reach to help the University attract a cadre of talented professors is particularly timely and exciting.”

About the Jefferson Scholars Foundation

The fundamental mission of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation is to serve the University of Virginia by identifying, attracting and nurturing individuals of extraordinary intellectual range and depth who possess the highest concomitant qualities of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.

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Dan Heuchert

Assistant Director of University News and Chief Copy Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications