Generous Ramon Breeden Donation Means a $75 Million Impact for McIntire, Athletics

September 15, 2023 By William Cocke, wtc4q@virginia.edu William Cocke, wtc4q@virginia.edu

University of Virginia alumnus Ramon W. Breeden Jr. has given $50 million to support the future of business education and athletics at the University to be evenly divided between funding for the McIntire Expansion Project and the Virginia Athletics Master Plan.

When combined with $25 million in matching funds for the McIntire project, the gift will have a total impact of $75 million. Breeden, a Virginia Beach-based developer, is a 1956 graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce.

UVA President Jim Ryan announced the gift during the Friday meeting of the Board of Visitors.

“I am deeply grateful for Ray’s far-reaching investment in our athletics facilities and McIntire’s growing presence on Grounds,” Ryan said. “Our student-athletes and commerce students, among others, will have terrific new spaces in which to practice and learn for many years to come.”

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The nature of the gift - support for the student experience at UVA - will provide crucial momentum to the University’s $5 billion Honor the Future campaign and underscore goals in the president’s 2030 Strategic Plan. Pending approval from the Board of Visitors, spaces contained within the Commerce School and the new athletics complex will be named for Breeden.

Breeden and wife Lucy

Breeden, pictured with his wife, Lucy, credits his UVA education with being foundational to his business success. (Contributed photo)

“UVA is the heart and soul of my education. It was truly the pinnacle of my education,” Breeden said. “The McIntire School prepared me to go toe-to-toe with Ivy League graduates. UVA’s business school didn’t just teach me about business practices, the school also taught me to have the confidence to speak. I learned how to be actionable in business because of my time at McIntire.

“In addition,” he continued, “I am an avid fan of many sports and believe they play a crucial role in teaching and promoting camaraderie.”

The McIntire Expansion Project is a complete reimagining of the Commerce School’s physical footprint, with renovations to interior and exterior spaces and the construction of a new building, Shumway Hall, on the southeast corner of UVA’s historic Lawn. The growing complex will also include the grounds surrounding McIntire’s current home, a renovated Cobb Hall and a host of outdoor meeting areas, expanded walkways and green spaces.

Construction of Shumway Hall is well underway, with the opening projected for February 2025. The transformation of the adjacent 106-year-old Cobb Hall includes the completion of its portico and the ongoing installation of the historic building’s new slate roofing. At completion, Cobb Hall will contain two new classrooms, a double-height solarium, several group study rooms, additional staff offices and numerous seating areas.

“Mr. Breeden’s unwavering devotion to the success of tomorrow’s business leaders is a powerful catalyst for the future of the McIntire School at a critical moment,” said Nicole Thorne Jenkins, the John A. Griffin Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce. “We are thrilled to be able to create and refine dynamic spaces on Grounds where students can develop and hone their business acumen, grow their personal and professional networks and make plans to accomplish great things through commerce.”

The Virginia Athletics Master Plan encompasses a new athletics complex that includes a Football Operations Center, an Olympic Sports Center to provide support to more than 750 student-athletes and the Center for Citizen Leaders and Sports Ethics. It will also include three natural-grass practice fields, a pedestrian promenade and the renovation of the McCue Center.

Phase I of the plan, which included two natural-grass football practice fields, is already complete. The Department of Athletics is now focusing on Phase II of the master plan - the Football Operations Center. Since the McCue Center opened in 1991, it has served as the home of Virginia Football. But more than 30 years later, it no longer accommodates the needs of a Power Five program. Construction of the new facility began in June 2022, and once complete in spring 2024, the 90,000-square foot Football Operations Center will serve as the daily home for Virginia Football.

Following construction of the Football Operations Center, Phase III will include a renovation of the McCue Center to allow UVA’s field hockey, cross country, track and field, lacrosse, rowing and soccer programs to move into new locker rooms. The Olympic Sports Complex, scheduled to open in the summer of 2025, will include the Center for Citizen Leaders and Sports Ethics, an initiative Carla Williams, UVA’s athletics director and vice president for intercollegiate athletics, launched after arriving at UVA in 2017.

“The Virginia Athletics Master Plan will redefine how UVA educates student-athletes,” Williams said. “Ray’s transformative gift helps us accomplish our mission to provide world-class facilities and support for our students as they study to achieve academic excellence, develop the necessary skills to become citizen leaders for tomorrow and train to compete for championships. He truly understands what it takes to provide the very best accommodations for our students.”

Athletics Master Plan Digital Rendering

Breeden said he wanted a portion of his gift to benefit Virginia athletics because “I am an avid fan of many sports and believe they play a crucial role in teaching and promoting camaraderie.” The gift will help fund new facilities included in the Virginia Athletics Master Plan, including a Football Operations Center and an Olympics Sports Center. (Rendering provided by Virginia Athletics)

Breeden is chairman of the board of The Breeden Company, a national developer of multifamily and commercial projects. Additionally, the company has built and managed several resort timeshare hotels.

He began his career in single-family home construction and soon progressed to multifamily and commercial developments. He founded The Breeden Company in 1961. Before that, he held various positions in real estate sales and mortgage financing.

After receiving his Bachelor of Science from the McIntire School, his post-graduate studies in business took place at the University of Richmond. His son, C. Torrey Breeden, executive vice president of The Breeden Company, graduated from the McIntire School in 1997.

Breeden served as a member of the McIntire Foundation Board from 1994 to 1996. Prior to that, he served on the McIntire Advisory Board for several years. He has also served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Real Estate Graduate School of Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Excellence Here Goes Everywhere, To Be Great and Good In All We Do
Excellence Here Goes Everywhere, To Be Great and Good In All We Do

Breeden was a founder and former member of the board of directors of Commerce Bank in Virginia Beach, which was purchased by Branch Bank & Trust, or BB&T, of Virginia. He also served as a state director of BB&T of Virginia.

Breeden has served as president of the Tidewater Builders Association as well as the state and local director of the Tidewater Association of Home Builders. He serves as a member of the board of directors for the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance and the Virginia Beach Education Foundation.

Breeden has held posts on the boards of several other nonprofit organizations. He is a significant supporter of various SPCAs and animal rescue organizations. He and The Breeden Company have been the presenting sponsor of the Neptune Festival’s Symphony by the Sea series in Virginia Beach since its inception in 2011.

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