Oct. 1, 2006 — Former University of Virginia football stars and current National Football League All-Pros Ronde and Tiki Barber and their families have made a $1 million gift to their alma mater.
Announcement of the Barbers’ gift was made on Saturday night during a dinner to launch the University’s $3 billion campaign. The Barber twins served as the emcees for that event in the John Paul Jones Arena.
The Barbers’ gift was made in two parts with $500,000 divided among the McIntire School of Commerce, where both received their undergraduate degrees; the Virginia Athletics Foundation; the U.Va. Children's Hospital; the U.Va. Alumni Association’s Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund, which benefits African-American students; and the Young Alumni Council. The other $500,000 will be in the form of a challenge to encourage young alumni of the University to participate in the campaign.
Ronde Barber is a cornerback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Tiki Barber is a running back with the New York Giants.
The Barber twins, members of the Class of 1997, have actively supported of the University since their graduation. Tiki Barber served on the Young Alumni Council and is the founder of a program that encourages young alumni to begin a tradition of giving to U.Va. — MY-D-CAV (My Yearly Dollars Count at Virginia). The Barbers will be celebrating their 10th class reunion next spring and hope that the challenge will spur giving on the part of their classmates.
“We want to be an example to other alumni to participate in this campaign,” said Ronde Barber. “ We want to emphasize that now is the time for our fellow alumni to join us. U.Va. has an ambition to compete with all of the great universities in the country, and we are going to lend ourselves to be a vessel for the University.”
“For us, at this time in our lives, to be able to do this is phenomenal,” said Tiki Barber. “We’ve both done pretty well as NFL players and, as a result, have made a great living. A lot of that is a result of being here at the University, not only being mentored and guided as football players but guided as people. The meaning of philanthropy is being able to make a different to those who helped push you up.”
The two NFL players were able to participate in the weekend campaign kickoff because both of their teams had bye weeks from the NFL.
Craig Littlepage, director of athletics at U.Va., called the Barbers “great models for all alumni and all former student athletes,” adding: “The generosity they demonstrate through this gift clearly shows how special Ronde and Tiki are.”
“The Commerce School is very proud to count Ronde and Tiki Barber among our many successful alumni, not simply because they are All-Pros in their profession, but because they are All-Pros as people,” said Carl P. Zeithaml, dean of the McIntire School of Commerce. “Ronde, Tiki, and their families provide extraordinary service to their communities, they are very effective in their business endeavors, and they are loyal alumni of the School and University. On behalf of the Commerce School, we appreciate their vision and energy.”
Edward Howell, vice president and chief executive officer of the Medical Center, called the gift and challenge “a great opportunity” for U.Va. Children’s Hospital. “In the past, the Barbers have been strong advocates for children's health, both at the University and through their work with the Children's Miracle Network,” Howell said. “This challenge during U.Va. Children's Hospital Telethon will motivate others to step forward and impact the lives of our youngest patients. These gifts will help us advance patient care and research, and build a new facility ideally suited to delivering comprehensive care to children.”
Tracy McMillan, chairman of the Ridley Fund board, expressed the board’s appreciation for the gift, adding: “The Barbers, like our Ridley Scholars, were students of the highest academic caliber. They epitomize Ridley’s guiding principals of learning, leadership, and legacy.”
Both Ronde and Tiki Barber were named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference football squads, and Tiki was named ACC Player of the Year as a senior. Tiki remains the second all-time and single-season rushing leader at Virginia; Ronde is third in career interceptions despite having been redshirted his freshman year.
During their professional careers, both have distinguished themselves both on and off the field, earning All-Pro honors and being elected to the Pro Bowl while also becoming known in their respective communities for their work on literacy issues and with other volunteer activities. Together, they have served as national co-captains of the National Education Association’s “Read Across America” literacy celebration, and they have written three successful children’s books — By My Brother’s Side, Teammates, and Game Day.
Ronde and his wife, Claudia, are the parents of two daughters, Yammile Rose and Justyce Rosina. Tiki and his wife, Ginny, are the parents of two sons, A.J. and Chason.