UVA, Monticello Ready for Founder’s Day With Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalists, Tree Planting

The University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello will present the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals during Thursday’s Founder’s Day celebrations.

On Thursday, the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello will present the University’s highest external honors, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals, to commemorate Jefferson’s birthday and UVA’s Founder’s Day.

UVA has celebrated Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, since its first academic session in 1825. Thursday’s events will include a celebration of the third president’s 274th birthday at his home, Monticello; a tree-planting ceremony honoring the former University Protocol and History Officer Sandy Gilliam; and several events featuring the 2017 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 recognizing outstanding leadership and achievement in pursuits that Jefferson held in high regard. The 2017 medalists are:

  • Loretta Lynch, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law: Lynch is the first African-American female attorney general in U.S. history, known for her impressive career prosecuting cases involving narcotics, violent crimes, public corruption and civil rights. More.
  • Alice Waters, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership: Waters is the founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project, a chef, author and food activist and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. She has championed local, sustainable agriculture for more than four decades. More.
  • N.R. Narayana Murthy, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Global Innovation: Murthy is an Indian entrepreneur and visionary leader who founded and grew Infosys into an information technology powerhouse through the design and implementation of the global delivery model for outsourcing services. More.
  • Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture: Farrell and McNamara, Irish founders and directors of Grafton Architects, are renowned for their creative and visionary academic and educational buildings. More.

Waters will be the keynote speaker at Monticello’s commemoration of Jefferson’s birthday, which will begin at 9:45 a.m. Thursday. The celebration is free and open to the public and will also be live-streamed online at www.monticello.org.

UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan and Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, will present the medals, struck for the occasion, during a private luncheon at the University.

Each of the medalists will also give public talks on Grounds. The Darden School of Business will host Murthy on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Darden’s Abbott Center Auditorium, with online registration beforehand. On Thursday, the School of Architecture will host Farrell and McNamara at 3 p.m. in the Old Cabell Hall auditorium. The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will host Waters in Garrett Hall at 3:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer and Superintendent of Schools Rosa Atkins discussing Charlottesville food systems and promoting healthy schools. The School of Law will host Lynch at 4 p.m. in the School of Law’s Caplin Auditorium.

Also on Thursday, the University will continue its annual tradition of planting a tree on Founder’s Day, honoring an individual who has made significant and lasting contributions to UVA. This year’s honoree is former University Protocol and History Officer Alexander G. “Sandy” Gilliam, who, during 39 years of service to UVA, worked as a special assistant to three presidents and spent 18 years as secretary to the Board of Visitors.

Members of Gilliam’s family have attended UVA since 1829, just four years after the University opened its doors. Gilliam followed in their footsteps, graduating from UVA in 1955 and holding several posts with the U.S. Foreign Service before returning to work on Grounds. Today, though he is retired, he can still be seen on Grounds daily.

Sullivan will preside over the tree-planting ceremony, which is open to the public, at 11 a.m. near the courtyard on the western side of the Rotunda.

More information, including a full schedule of events, is available on the Founder’s Day webpage.

Media Contact

Caroline Newman

University News Associate Office of University Communications