to promote exchanges between U.S., Iceland
new University-related foundation formed to promote the advanced
study of Iceland has an unusual source of financial support: commemorative
from a $10 surcharge on the sales of official U.S. and Icelandic
Leif Ericson commemorative coins, formally launched in June, support
the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation at the University, created this
spring to finance graduate-level student exchanges between both
countries. The foundation will support work in a number of fields,
including Iceland's history, culture, literature, science, law,
business, medicine, technology and other areas.
far, more than 220,000 coins have been sold, raising approximately
$2.2 million for the foundation, although that amount must be
matched dollar-for-dollar by non-government sources, said Patrick
Ingram, senior associate director of planned giving with the Office
of Development, who is spearheading fund-raising efforts.
foundation may make its first grants in the fall of 2001 or spring
of 2002, Ingram said.
Eiriksson Foundation also is working as a partner with the White
House Millennium Commission to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary
of the first European contact with the New World.
have found artifacts that indicate that a band of Norsemen, led
by Eiriksson, first landed near L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland
between 997 AD and 1003 AD and maintained an outpost there for
about a decade. They may have used the site as a base for further
exploration, and most likely established trade with some native
tribes. Although the outpost was abandoned, contact may have continued
officials hope that spirit of adventure will be renewed in the
"The Leifur Eiriksson Foundation will provide significant
resources that will enable generations of students to explore
all of the educational opportunities that both countries hold,"
said Robert Kellogg, U.Va. professor emeritus of English
and chair of the foundation's board of trustees. "The University
of Virginia, its Health System
Arts & Sciences programs are especially excited about this
endeavor, given all of the treasures the Republic of Iceland possesses
in genetics, the environment and literature."
genetics, for example, "they've done some incredible work,"
Kellogg said, explaining that researchers have compiled what is
essentially a "genetic map" of the nation's relatively
isolated and small population of around 270,000.
University is expanding its efforts in the international arena,
one of four key areas in which it hopes to improve its national
standing as part of its Virginia 2020 planning initiative. The
others are the fine and performing arts, science and technology
and public service.
Eiriksson Foundation is a cooperative effort of U.Va. and the
Central Bank of Iceland, and is a natural outgrowth of a number
of cordial and productive relationships between Iceland and the
students and faculty of the University over the last 50 years,
Kellogg said. Several U.Va. scholars have a direct interest in
Iceland and its heritage, beginning with President John T. Casteen
III, an authority in medieval literature, including Norse sagas.
Kellogg, an expert on medieval Icelandic literature, first studied
in Iceland in 1956, lectured frequently at the University of Iceland
in Rekjavik as a U.Va. faculty member, and this spring taught
a full course load there. Marshall Brement, another board member
and the Hugh S. and Winifred Cumming Memorial Professor of International
Affairs at U.Va., is a well-respected former U.S. ambassador to
third director appointed by the University is Donald K. Fry, a
former member of the English faculty and a published authority
in Scandinavian literature. Two additional board members are appointed
by the Central Bank of Iceland and the prime minister of Iceland.
The chair will rotate every two years between the Icelandic and
foundation will supplement the resources from the U.S. Mint and
the Republic of Iceland with support from private individuals
and corporations that encourage international education.
coins can be ordered as sets or individually over the Web at www.usmint.gov,
or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT anytime, 24 hours per day, seven
days a week.