January 3, 2012 — Seeking to support teaching, research and curriculum development in the critical area of leadership, University of Virginia alumnus John Griffin has committed $5 million to the McIntire School of Commerce to establish the Blue Ridge Leadership Fellows Program.
Griffin, a 1985 McIntire graduate and longtime benefactor of the school, is the founder and president of New York-based investment partnership Blue Ridge Capital.
"We are incredibly grateful for John's remarkable generosity in support of leadership programs and initiatives," McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml said. "This gift marks a significant step forward in creating the opportunity for world-class leadership studies not only at the McIntire School, but also for students throughout the University. We look forward to working closely with other schools at the University, including the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the College of Arts & Sciences, to support and develop high-impact experiences and courses in leadership."
Resources provided by the gift will support McIntire faculty engaged in the teaching of leadership, and will also be used to fund research on leadership-related topics. The gift, Zeithaml said, will allow the school to significantly augment the leadership courses and activities available through its "Integrated Core Experience" undergraduate curriculum and its elective classes; to recruit outstanding faculty with expertise in the area of leadership; and to grow its highly successful leadership minor, which is open to undergraduate students throughout the University.
Griffin's gift, Zeithaml noted, has already allowed the school to extend job offers to three top educators in leadership.
Tom Bateman, McIntire professor of management who heads the leadership minor, said the gift will have an immediate impact.
"This gift will allow us to expand and strengthen our leadership offerings," he said, "and it will allow us to provide more customized support for students' field-based leadership projects. Given the challenges with which the United States – and the entire global community – is faced today, I can hardly think of a more critical area of study."
Griffin said he recognizes the need to attract and retain world-class faculty to teach and study leadership. "Teachers are the rocket fuel of a top school. This gift is intended to keep McIntire on its upward trajectory by investing in our outstanding faculty."