UVA’s ‘Honor the Future’ Campaign Surpasses $5 Billion Goal Ahead of Schedule

January 16, 2024 By William Cocke, wtc4q@virginia.edu William Cocke, wtc4q@virginia.edu

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan announced Wednesday that the school’s “Honor the Future” fundraising campaign has crossed the $5 billion threshold, 18 months ahead of its June 30, 2025, target.

“We’ve reached this remarkable milestone thanks to the enormous generosity of our alumni, parents and friends, as well as campaign chair Peter Grant’s outstanding leadership, and the hard work of the team in University Advancement,” Ryan said. “I’m deeply grateful for their support.

“As impressive as it is,” Ryan added, “$5 billion is much more than simply a number. It represents critical investments in students, faculty and research that align with the 2030 Strategic Plan, which will have an impact for generations. 

“That said, we still have more to do, and with 18 months left in the campaign, we will continue to build for the future.”

The Honor the Future campaign was launched publicly in October 2019 to coincide with the University’s bicentennial. The campaign’s key dates hold historical significance with the bicentennial of the University’s founding: The state legislature chartered UVA at its site in 1819, and the first class of students matriculated in 1825. The campaign, the largest in University history, has already made a profound impact on students, faculty, facilities and research in Charlottesville, Wise County and Northern Virginia as it continues to propel the school into a third century of service to the commonwealth, nation and world.

In pursuit of Ryan’s strategic plan to make UVA “the best public university in 2030, and one of the very best in the world, whether public or private,” the Honor the Future Campaign has made historic strides in just a few years while weathering a global pandemic and the economic headwinds that followed.

“The achievement of this milestone reflects the generosity and vision of our loyal alumni and friends,” said Grant, volunteer chair of the Honor the Future Campaign. “It also represents the dedicated work of many people committed to reaching our aspirational $5 billion goal. The University stands well-positioned for the future as a result of their collective support and effort.”

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Newly renovated library being enjoyed by students
Students study in the newly renovated Alderman Library. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

By fueling new advances in medical research, supporting outstanding faculty and scholarship, increasing accessibility for first-generation students and transforming the institution for the demands of the future, the campaign continues to promote discovery and learning across Grounds.

Strengthening the foundation of core priorities and investing in an exceptional student experience will continue to be a significant focus of the campaign. By creating a thriving intellectual environment that sustains education, secures democracy and drives research, the campaign’s impact will last well beyond its completion date.

The campaign priorities extend Universitywide, supporting every school and unit in the Academic Division, the School of Law, the Darden School of Business, UVA Health and the College at Wise. Funds are benefiting new and existing programs and providing key support for capital projects, such as the Emmet-Ivy Corridor where the School of Data Science, the Tessa and Richard Ader Performing Arts Center and the Karsh Institute of Democracy will reside; the Alderman Library renovations; the new home for the Contemplative Sciences Center; the McIntire School of Commerce expansion project; the Virginia Athletics Master Plan; the Paul and Diane Manning Institute of Biotechnology; and many more.

The alumni, parents and friends who have contributed – some 230,000 so far – have been the lifeblood of the Honor the Future Campaign. Their participation has been crucial to the success of a significant achievement: a matching program through the Strategic Investment Fund to create an unprecedented number of new endowed scholarships and professorships, part of a commitment to maintaining a leadership role in higher education and serving the common good.

Through the Bicentennial Scholars Fund, named in honor of UVA’s 200th anniversary, the University remains committed to investing in a broad array of merit- and need-based scholarships, which provide financial security, educational opportunity and a solid foundation for its most promising students. Overall, UVA has received nearly $364 million in commitments to the fund. With a corresponding match of more than $257 million from the University, the combined scholarship funds across the program now amount to more than $621 million.

To date, the Bicentennial Scholars Fund has created more than 600 new endowed scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students and student-athletes. These scholarships are central to UVA’s efforts to increase accessibility and affordability while attracting outstanding students from all backgrounds.

Similarly, the Bicentennial Professors Fund has raised approximately $315 million to create more than 133 new endowed professorships across the University. With a $212 million investment in matching funds for qualifying gifts to Bicentennial Professorships, the total investment comes to $527 million. By co-investing with donors in outstanding faculty and recruiting and retaining extraordinary scholars, the University continues its tradition of sustaining a faculty cohort whose teaching and research at UVA will lead the way into the future.

The combined impact of the Bicentennial Scholars and Professors Funds has surpassed $1.1 billion.

Students sitting in a lecture hall
Students listen to assistant professor Peter Johannessen, who teaches public policy. (Photo by Sanjay Suckak, University Communications)

“This broad array of new professorships is having an immediate and lasting effect on UVA’s efforts to attract the most exceptional faculty from across a wide range of disciplines,” Ian Baucom, UVA’s executive vice president and provost, said. “Outstanding teachers are the heart of the University experience for our students, and they provide a solid foundation for a lifetime of achievement. Researchers provide the impetus for new discoveries and groundbreaking changes that move our society forward.”

The campaign is helping revitalize the University’s facilities on the historic Grounds and changing its footprint in Charlottesville. UVA’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, dedicated in 2021, has received broad acclaim, and philanthropy has helped preserve Thomas Jefferson’s elements of the original Academical Village, as well as construct a new Student Health and Wellness Center.

“A campaign is an opportunity for a university to ask itself what truly matters in higher education and to set its sights on excelling in every one of those areas,” Mark Luellen, UVA’s vice president for advancement, said. “Our dedicated and generous donors have made gifts that have touched nearly every corner of our University, bringing in welcome investments in students, programs, faculty and research. Their unfailing support provides the building blocks for our success and underscores a passion for the University’s values and core mission. I couldn’t be more grateful.”

With 18 months left to go, the Honor the Future Campaign will continue to set the course for the University’s future. Its focus on core values such as access and affordability for all qualified applicants, recruiting and retaining outstanding teachers and providing researchers with the resources to stretch the boundaries of knowledge will ensure that UVA remains one of the great public universities in the nation.

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