March 1-7, 2002
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U.Va. planning future of Morven Farm, seeks guidance from community

Dave Matthews buys five Kluge farms
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U.Va. planning future of Morven Farm, seeks guidance from community
Morven Farm
Photo by Bill Sublette
A view of Kluge’s estate taken from the entrance to historic Morven Farm.

Staff Report

When John W. Kluge gave his 7,378-acre Albemarle County estate to the University of Virginia Foundation last May, his desire was for the University to develop the core of his property — the 749-acre historic Morven Farm — for educational purposes.

Now, nine months later, the University is launching a long-term planning initiative to determine how best to use Morven Farm to further the University’s academic mission. Over the next several years, the University will seek the guidance of faculty, students, administrators and staff members to design a comprehensive plan for Morven Farm.

At the time the gift was made, University President John T. Casteen III called it “an invaluable treasure that will advance the University’s academic mission as well as the public interest for generations to come. It offers unprecedented opportunities to help the University realize the goals of Virginia 2020, our long-term planning process.”

More recently, Casteen has said that he envisions a “thriving academic environment in which scholars, students, artists and international leaders in their fields can come together to advance scholarship and learning.”

To make the vision a reality, Gene Block, vice president and provost, is leading a University-wide planning team that will turn to the academic community for ideas that would be compatible with the core property.

This ambitious planning process, which will unfold over several years, intends to focus on — but not be limited to — four previously identified areas: environmental and landscape studies, performing and creative arts, international activities, and public service and outreach. These are all areas, Block said, that either relate directly to Virginia 2020 or that will help transform established areas of excellence into centers of global preeminence.

This spring, representatives from three University offices — the provost’s, the executive vice president’s and the foundation’s — will move across Grounds, meeting with schools, departments, faculty and students to brainstorm and discuss potential uses of Kluge’s gift.

In late spring, Block’s committee will put out a call for formal proposals — with a fall deadline — from anyone in the University community interested in presenting an idea. The group will review the proposals and make recommendations to Casteen, who will give final approval to programs selected for the next phase.

Strategic planning committees will then step in to begin the hard work of conducting cost analyses and, among other things, developing the core property’s infrastructure.

When Kluge gave his estate to U.Va., which includes 10 farms in addition to Morven Farm, he recommended that the University begin to sell the additional properties to create an endowment to support the core.

Kluge, a businessman and philanthropist who has been a longtime University benefactor, will retain use of the Morven Farm core property, plus an adjacent 490 acres of farmland, throughout his lifetime. The gift of his estate, valued in excess of $45 million, was the second largest in the University’s history.


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