UVA, Monticello to Celebrate Founder’s Day With Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalists

On April 13, the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation will mark Thomas Jefferson’s birthday with the presentation of the University’s highest external honors, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals.

UVA has celebrated Jefferson’s birthday – locally referred to as “Founder’s Day” – since its first academic season in 1825. Wednesday’s celebrations – free and open to the public ­– will include a commemoration of Jefferson’s 273rd birthday at his home, Monticello; a tree planting ceremony on UVA’s Lawn; and a series of events featuring the 2016 Thomas Jefferson Foundation medalists.

UVA and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the independent, nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello, will jointly present the medals. Each medal recognizes exemplary contributions in endeavors that Jefferson held in high regard. The 2016 medals include the inaugural Medal in Global Innovation hosted by the Darden School of Business to honor individuals who have led a significant global innovation that creates value for humanity. The 2016 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalists are:

  • Architecture: Cecil Balmond OBE, the world’s leading thinker on form. A Sri Lankan-born architect, artist, writer and engineer, Balmond has earned international acclaim for his revolutionary approach. The former deputy chairman of the international, multi-disciplinary engineering firm ARUP and head of both the European Building Division and the Advance Geometry Unit, Balmond now runs his own practice, Balmond Studio. He received an Order of the British Empire for Services to Architecture in 2015. (More.)
  • Law: Judge John Gleeson, a former federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, known for his active support for criminal justice reforms related to sentencing and for his prior work as the lead prosecutor in the case United States v. John Gotti et. al. (More.)
  • Citizen Leadership: Marian Wright Edelman, a lifelong advocate for disadvantaged Americans who has made a profound impact as the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. Edelman was also the 1992 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law. (More.)
  • Global Innovation: Gordon Moore, an American engineer, technologist and entrepreneur whose pioneering work in semiconductor electronics helped establish Silicon Valley and drive the Digital Age. Widely known for “Moore’s Law,” he predicted and guided the exponential growth of computing power, and co-founded the Intel Corporation, the world’s largest chip maker. (More.)

At 10 a.m. on April 13 at Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation will host a commemoration of Jefferson’s 273rd birthday, with Edelman as the featured keynote speaker. A pre-ceremony performance begins at 9:45 a.m. The celebration is free and open to the public. The event will also be streamed live online here.

UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan and Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, will present the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals, struck for the occasion, during a private luncheon at the University. Moore, the inaugural medalist in Global Innovation, will share his remarks via video presentation at the luncheon.

The School of Law will host a public talk by Gleeson at 10 a.m. in Caplin Pavilion. Later that afternoon, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will host a public talk by Edelman at 3 p.m. in Nau Hall, room 101. Also at 3 p.m., the School of Architecture will host a public talk by Balmond, held in the Ruth Caplin Theatre in the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds. Balmond’s talk will be followed by a reception and book signing at the theatre.

In addition to the events with the medalists, the University will continue its annual tradition of planting a tree on Founder’s Day to remember Jefferson and celebrate an individual who has made significant and lasting contributions to the University. This year’s tree planting ceremony will honor Emeritus Professor of Biology J. James Murray, who chaired the Arboretum and Landscape Committee for several years and participated in the committee’s activities for almost 30 years, leading improvement and maintenance of UVA’s Grounds and gardens.

Sullivan will preside over the tree-planting ceremony at 11:15 a.m. on the lower portion of the Lawn, in front of Cocke Hall.

More information, including a full schedule of Founder’s Day events can be found here.

Media Contact

Caroline Newman

University News Associate Office of University Communications

Alexandria Tyre

Thomas Jefferson Foundation