U.Va. and Monticello Celebrate Founder’s Day, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist Events on Monday

On Monday, the 272nd anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth, the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation will present their highest honors.

Jefferson’s birthday – April 13, known locally as Founder’s Day – has been celebrated at U.Va. each year since the University’s first academic session.

This year’s Founder’s Day activities will take place Monday, and most are free and open to the public.

U.Va. and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation – the independent, nonprofit organization that has owned and operated Monticello since 1923 – will present the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals to recognize enduring contributions in three fields in which Jefferson excelled and held in high regard – architecture, law and citizen leadership.

The Medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which grants no honorary degrees.

The 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals in Architecture, Law and Citizen Leadership, will be presented, respectively, to:

  • Herman Hertzberger, an internationally acclaimed Dutch architect and recipient of the 2012 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gold Medal who established his firm, Architectuurstudio HH, in 1960 and who since has made significant contributions to the world of modern architecture. (Full bio here.) 
  • The Honorable Joan E. Donoghue, the current American judge serving on the International Court of Justice and a lifelong public servant in the fields of international and foreign relations law. (Full bio here.) 
  • U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights activist, lifelong public servant and central player in America’s struggle for equal rights. Lewis chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and organized the march from Selma to Montgomery, which took place 50 years ago last month, on March 7, 1965. (Full bio here.)

Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan will present the medals, struck for the occasion, to each of the recipients at a luncheon in U.Va.’s Garrett Hall.

On Monday, the recipients will each give a free public lecture at U.Va. and will be honored at a formal dinner at Monticello.

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will host a public talk by Lewis on Monday at 2:30 p.m. in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Auditorium. The talk will stream online at https://livestream.com/UVABattenSchool.

Lewis also will be the featured speaker at Monticello’s commemoration of Jefferson’s 272nd birthday on Monday at 10 a.m. on the West Lawn of Monticello. The celebration is free and open to the public. More information about the event is available online. The ceremony will also be live-streamed at monticello.org/john-lewis-live. Parking for media will be available in Monticello’s visitor center lot.

The School of Law will host a public talk by Donoghue on Monday at 10 a.m. in the Caplin Pavilion.

The School of Architecture will host a public talk by Hertzberger at 3 p.m. in the Ruth Caplin Theatre at the Drama Building.

In addition to the presentation of the 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals, each year the University plants a tree on Founder’s Day to remember Jefferson and to celebrate individuals who have made a significant contribution to the University.

This year’s tree will be dedicated to the enslaved laborers who built and maintained the University from 1817 to 1865.

The ceremony will take place on Monday at 11 a.m. in front of Pavilion IV. Parking will be available in the Culbreth Road Parking Garage. The event is open to the public.

The archives of previous Tree Planting honorees can be found here.

This year’s Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalists join a distinguished roster of past winners that includes architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and Maya Lin; seven former and current U.S. Supreme Court justices; former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher; Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America; Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; and several former and current U.S. senators, including John Warner, George Mitchell, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Sam Nunn and James H. Webb Jr.

Media Contact

Robert Hull

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications