U.Va., Monticello Announce Winners of 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals

March 04, 2015

The University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello will present their highest honors, the 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals in Architecture, Law and Citizen Leadership, 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 representative judge serving on the International Court of Justice and a lifelong public servant in the realms of international and American diplomatic 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 this week, on March 7, 1965. (Full bio here.)

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals recognize the exemplary contributions of recipients to the endeavors in which Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard.

“The University of Virginia is proud to celebrate these leaders, who truly embody the ideals and spirit of Thomas Jefferson,” U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “These recipients not only exemplify premier talent in their fields, but also, like Jefferson, they provide essential leadership for our world in the areas of architecture, law and citizen leadership.”

The medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which grants no honorary degrees. The awards are presented annually on Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, by the president of the University of Virginia, and by the president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the independent, nonprofit organization that owns and operates his home, Monticello. April 13 is known locally as Founders Day, celebrating Jefferson’s founding of U.Va. in Charlottesville in 1819.

“Thomas Jefferson devoted more than 40 years to serving his new country – seeking not only to improve government, but also architecture, science and education,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “He sought to create a society that would transform his vision for human progress into reality, fully aware that his dreams would not be realized in his own lifetime. We are honored to welcome the 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal recipients, each of whom, like Jefferson, has had a profound impact on our world and will inspire future generations of leaders.”

Bowman and Sullivan will present the medals, struck for the occasion, to each of the recipients at a luncheon in U.Va.’s Garrett Hall. Following the presentation, the recipients will each give a free public lecture at U.Va. and will be honored at a formal dinner at Monticello.

Lewis also will be the featured speaker at Monticello’s commemoration of Jefferson’s 272nd birthday on April 13 at 10 a.m. on the West Lawn of Monticello. The celebration is free and open to the public. The ceremony will be live-streamed online at monticello.org/john-lewis-live.

This year’s 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.

About Monticello

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, the foundation seeks to engage a global audience in a dialogue with Jefferson’s ideas. Monticello is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a United Nations World Heritage Site. As a private, nonprofit organization, the foundation’s regular operating budget does not receive ongoing government support to fund its twofold mission of preservation and education. About 440,000 people visit Monticello each year. For information, visit www.monticello.org.

About the University of Virginia

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia sustains the ideal of developing, through education, leaders who are well-prepared to help shape the future of the nation and the world. The University is public, while nourished by the strong support of its alumni. It is also selective; the students who come here have been chosen because they show the exceptional promise Jefferson envisioned.

Media Contact

Robert Hull

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications

Mia Magruder

Thomas Jefferson Foundation