Casteens Honored with $500,000 Challenge Gift

March 22, 2010 — The Jefferson Scholars Foundation at the University of Virginia has received a $500,000 challenge gift to create the John and Betsy Casteen Jefferson Scholarship.

The challenge was announced by long-time benefactor and former foundation board member Eli Tullis during an event attended by Casteen in New Orleans on Jan. 29. Tullis, Paul Tudor Jones, and Lee and Elizabeth Ainslie made the challenge gift as a way to recognize the Casteens' service to the University community and in particular the Jefferson Scholars Foundation.

As dean of admission in 1979, Casteen was instrumental in creating the Jefferson Scholars Program. Acknowledged as one of the program's "founding fathers," he envisioned the program creating a cadre of leaders whose intellectual promise and leadership potential would bring distinction to the University and enrich the experience for all students. Casteen viewed the Jefferson Scholars Foundation as a "central driver of change and excellence in the University."

"It is particularly fitting that a Jefferson Scholarship be created in the name of John and Betsy Casteen and be the idea of Eli Tullis," Jimmy Wright, executive director of the foundation, said. "John was one of the first people to embrace the Jefferson Scholarship initiative in the late 1970s when he was dean of admission, and Eli was among a handful of alumni who provided volunteer and philanthropic leadership to the program at its inception.

"Both John and Eli have been steadfast in their support of the foundation over the last 30 years, and the John and Betsy Casteen Scholarship will be a significant asset to the foundation as it seeks to attract outstanding leaders, scholars and citizens to the University."

The organizers want to raise an additional $500,000 to match their contribution. Those wishing to contribute can do so on the foundation's Web page.

About the Jefferson Scholars Foundation

The 28-year-old, not-for-profit Jefferson Scholars Foundation serves the University of Virginia by identifying, attracting and nurturing individuals of extraordinary intellectual range and depth who possess the highest qualities of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.