The Z Society, one of several University of Virginia secret societies comprising students and alumni, has made a $1 million commitment to two projects that will have a major impact on the lives of UVA students.
In an anonymous letter, the society directed that the funds be used for student spaces in the new Student Health & Wellness Center and to help renovate Alderman Library.
“For well over a century, the Z Society has stood for leadership, service and love of alma mater,” the letter begins. “These core values of our group and the larger University are best exemplified when our students also have a keen focus on their academic pursuits and their personal health. Our gift to Alderman Library and the new Student Health & Wellness Center will address both areas and benefit the entire student body.”
“The Z Society has always been focused on improving the student experience at UVA,” University President Jim Ryan said. “That’s exactly what this gift will do – upgrading one of the most iconic buildings on Grounds and helping students stay healthy, both mentally and physically. I want to thank everyone who contributed for their generosity.”
The new Student Health & Wellness Center is under construction on Brandon Avenue near the South Lawn and the newly named Julian Bond House. Groundbreaking for the four-story, 156,000 square-foot facility took place last fall, with completion expected in spring 2021. In addition to providing the University’s 23,000 students with critically needed space for clinical services, the attractive, light-filled center will promote wellness and offer areas for students to meet or conduct programming around health-related topics.
“The new Health & Wellness Center will go far beyond the delivery of clinical services and provide new spaces where students can engage creatively with one another around well-being,” Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer, said. “In recognizing those magical, seemingly simple, yet powerful moments of engagement from their own time as students, members of the Z Society are generously ensuring similar experiences for UVA students in the decades to come. We are grateful for their support.”
The renovation of Alderman Library will mark a third chapter in the University Library’s history. The first chapter began when the Rotunda, UVA’s original library, was constructed as the focus of Grounds – a notable departure from the customary practice of centering universities around religious buildings. The second began when Alderman was built in 1938 with a much larger and more current collection, and UVA began to function as a research university. The new renovation will bring the library up to current standards of safety, accessibility and service.
“We’re honored that the Z Society has chosen the library as a recipient of this gift in support of the student experience,” said John Unsworth, dean and University librarian. “The library has always been at the heart of that experience, and this gift will help us make our main library building a better and more welcoming space for all students.”
Unsworth noted that the gift continues a tradition of support from the Z Society for the library, a tradition that includes an annual fund established in honor of former professor and dean Robert Kent Gooch. “We’re gratified by the Z Society’s continued support, and we appreciate their affirmation of the library’s central place at the University,” he said.
The Z Society, founded in 1892, is believed to be the oldest remaining secret society at UVA. One of about 13 secret societies currently active, it is recognizable by the many symbols painted on buildings across Grounds. The society’s anonymous good works include tradition-filled celebrations of Founder’s Day, events such as a First-Year Recognition Dinner, and major awards such as the Edgar Shannon Award, presented to one student from each school during graduation, as well as the Distinguished Faculty Award, presented to one faculty member from the University every year.
Full statement from the Z Society:
“For well over a century, the Z Society has stood for leadership, service and love of alma mater. Thus, on the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of our beloved University, the Z Society is greatly pleased and honored to announce a $1 million gift to the University’s Honor the Future campaign. Our gift will fund student spaces in the new Student Health & Wellness Center and the newly renovated Alderman Library. The Z Society has had a longstanding focus on the student experience and student self-governance. These core values of our group and the larger University are best exemplified when our students also have a keen focus on their academic pursuits and their personal health. Our gift to Alderman Library and the new Student Health Center will address both areas and benefit the entire student body.
“We encourage all members of the University community to support the University as it enters its third century, continues to grow in stature and remains true to the Jeffersonian ideal of not being afraid ‘to follow truth wherever it may lead.’”