Bertram Ellis Jr. (center), a 1975 and '79 U.Va. alumnus and
Internet businessman, stands with the deans whose schools
will benefit from a $10 million gift he and his wife gave
to U.Va., Edward A. Snyder (left) of Darden and Melvyn P.
Leffler, of Arts & Sciences. Ellis currently sits on the Darden
School Foundation Board of Trustees.
$10 million gift caps
U.Va. reunions weekend
businessman and University alumnus U. Bertram Ellis Jr., chair
and chief executive officer of Atlanta-based iXL Enterprises,
and his wife Deborah Hicks Ellis have given $10 million to the
gift, one of the 10 largest in the University's history, is to
be divided between Ellis' two U.Va. schools, the College
and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, from which he graduated
in 1975, and the Darden Graduate
School of Business Administration, from which he earned an
MBA degree in 1979.
In announcing the unrestricted gift during the June 3-4 reunions
weekend, University President John T. Casteen III called the gift
"another signal of the Ellises' commitment to and affection
for the University."
Ellises have been involved in University life and interested in
helping to shape its future since he graduated from the College.
Last year, Ellis was the chief architect of "e-summit@virginia,"
helping to bring together almost 100 U.Va. alumni leaders in the
Internet world for a conference on the impact of new technology.
and Debbie consistently have given their time, their incredible
energy and their financial support to University programs during
the past 25 years," Casteen said. "Their gift today
sets the standard for leadership among their generation. We are
deeply grateful for their generosity of spirit."
and I have been extremely lucky in our lives. We are committed
to distributing 90 percent of our financial wealth during our
lifetimes to institutions and organizations that have a positive
impact on us, our family, and our communities," Ellis said.
"This gift to U.Va. can help propel the University to even
greater heights. I am honored to have this opportunity to give
President John T. Casteen III announced the $10 million
gift from the Ellises during reunions weekend, Bert Ellis
stood up and waved to the alumni crowd's claps and cheers.
The unrestricted gift will go to Arts & Sciences and the
who currently serves on the Darden School Foundation Board of
Trustees, founded iXL Enterprises, a global company that helps
businesses embrace and take advantage of new technology, in 1996.
iXL is the parent company of iXL Inc. and the Consumer Financial
Network. Earlier, he headed Ellis Communications, a company that
owned and operated 13 television stations, two radio stations,
and the Raycom sports production/marketing firm.
the dean of Arts & Sciences, Melvyn P. Leffler, and the dean of
the Darden School, Edward A. Snyder, said the gift reflected the
couple's interest in academic programs as well as in the aspirations
of all sectors of the University.
gift comes at a pivotal moment in our academic planning,"
Leffler said. "Because of their generosity, we will be able
to shape the future of the college with the same emphases that
have characterized Bert's career: remarkable innovation combined
with the creative use of technology. We are striving for national
and international distinction, so the support of private donors
-- like Bert and Debbie Ellis -- makes us believe that these aspirations
Said Snyder: "Bert Ellis personifies the Darden mission of
developing professionals who create, lead and inspire great organizations.
Future Darden students will be even better equipped to lead the
global economy as the result of this extraordinary gift from a
very dynamic and insightful couple.²
who also has been involved with a recent series of alumni meetings
to help envision the future of the University, said he chose his
25th reunion to announce his gift to send a message to fellow
alumni about the need to support their alma mater as it sets a
course toward growth and change.
addition to the Ellis gift, Casteen announced a commitment of
$2 million from one of his own classmates. Casteen, a 1965 graduate
of Arts & Sciences, said that the anonymous donor had been inspired
by the activities of reunions weekend and requested that his gift
be announced then. It will create a professorship in English and
an unrestricted fund for the dean of Arts & Sciences.
annual alumni gathering at the University has enjoyed a short
but robust history. In the past nine years, the event has grown
from a scant 600 attendees to some 5,000 this year. It now includes
two days of University seminars, athletic events, historic tours
giving has increased along with attendance, with classes competing
for the coveted award of most generous class. Last year's giving
totals for the weekend reached $4.3 million. This year's numbers
-- from the classes of '55, '60, '65, '70, '75, '80, '85, '90
and '95 -- are expected to hit $5.7 million, not including the
two leadership gifts announced by Casteen.
weekend's commitments will be counted in the Campaign for the
University, which to date has raised $1.13 billion, well beyond
its $1 billion goal.