Saunders Hall, the Darden School’s central gathering place, was named in his honor in 1996 in recognition of his extraordinary generosity. Saunders worked closely with architect Robert A.M. Stern to design Darden’s new grounds in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village.
“Tom Saunders lived a life of service,” Michael Woodfolk, president of the Darden School Foundation, said. “And partly because of how it changed his own life, Darden was among the many passions he loved supporting to change the lives of countless others. He represented the best of our community, and we are grateful for the incredible example he set for us all.”
As a Darden student, he was winner of the Samuel Forest Hyde Award. Saunders also was a member of UVA's Raven Society.
Saunders, along with his family, remained steadfast supporters of the University, and in 2021, Saunders, along with his wife Jordan and daughter Calvert Saunders Moore, a 1990 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences, gave a $10 million gift to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation to create the University’s first-ever endowed University Professorships. The gift was matched by UVA’s Bicentennial Professors Fund, providing $20 million in total investment.
“For over 40 years, we have been committed to supporting education, and with the endowment of these University Professorships, we advance the University’s ability to attract and retain internationally recognized science professors to help ensure that the University continues to be one of the greatest educational institutions in the United States,” Saunders said at the time.
“Tom Saunders was a remarkable person,” Jefferson Scholars Foundation President Jimmy Wright said. “He was thoughtful, articulate, willing to listen, and you always knew where he stood, a trait that is increasingly rare. The University and the Jefferson Scholars Foundation have lost one of our most loyal and committed friends.”
A 2021 UVA Today article noted the impact of the family’s giving across Grounds, which included Tom Saunders’ leadership roles in multiple capital campaigns and substantial support for entities including Darden, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, University Athletics and various key areas of strategic importance.