Biggest gift ever
By Bill Sublette
late David A. Harrison III of Hopewell, one of the Universitys
most loyal and generous alumni during his lifetime, has made an
even greater impact on the institution through his estate.
retired lawyer, investment banker and farmer, Harrison died June
8 at the age of 85. Recent distributions from his estate and a
previously established trust have provided the University with
$64 million, most of it directed toward endowed professorships
in the schools of law and medicine. The Virginia athletics program
and the University Library also will benefit from the estates
addition, Harrison created an irrevocable trust in excess of $50
million, which will come to the University in 25 years. With these
new gifts, contributions to the University made by Harrison and
his late wife, Mary, total more than $150 million.
Once again, David Harrisons generosity has made its
imprint on the University in ways both profound and long-lasting,
said University President John T. Casteen III. Through this
forward-looking gift, he has strengthened immeasurably the schools
and programs that were always closest to his heartlaw, medicine,
athletics, and the study of our nation and its people.
of Davids great gifts was his ability to take the long view,
Casteen continued. His vision encompassed outcomes not just
months or years ahead but decades into the future. His long-range
goal was always to make the areas he benefited the best they can
possibly be. This gift will enable us to fulfill his bold aspirations
for the University.
directed by Harrison, who earned a bachelors degree at the
University in 1939 and a law degree in 1941, $34.8 million of
the gift will endow professorships in the School of Law. The new
Harrison chairs will be funded at a level competitive with the
most prestigious academic positions in the nation, according to
John C. Jeffries Jr., dean of the Law School.
Harrison was a visionary benefactor. We shall honor his vision
and his leadership by using his bequest to build and retain the
best law faculty in the nation, said Jeffries. In
accordance with his wish, the chairs will be reserved for persons
of exceptional distinction who, as he said, not only possess
an appropriate dedication to the advancement of knowledge in their
respective fields, but whose foremost attribute is a demonstrated
interest in and talent for the teaching of students."
Harrison gift provides $20.3 million for faculty support in the
School of Medicine, which will use the funds to endow professorships
in areas where they will have the greatest impact. The school
also will endow a new Harrison Scholars fund, which will reward
faculty members judged by their peers to be the best teachers.
Mr. Harrisons overwhelming generosity will allow us
to attract and retain some of the most accomplished medical faculty
in the nation, said Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., dean of the School
of Medicine. By bringing gifted faculty into our classrooms,
laboratories, and clinics, we fulfill our mission to our students
to advance medical knowledge, and to our patients from across
the Commonwealth to provide the highest quality of care.
the years, Mary and David Harrison established a number of professorships
in law, medicine, and archaeology. David Harrison also made possible
the Harrison Research Awards, which provide grants to undergraduates
for independent scholarly projects. Harrison helped to support
expansion and renovation of the Law Schools facilities,
named the David A. Harrison III Law Grounds in his honor, and
his gifts to athletics funded such improvements as David A. Harrison
III Field, the grass playing surface at Scott Stadium.
Harrison's generosity in supporting intercollegiate athletics
has been a key component in providing high quality facilities
here at U.Va.," said Craig Littlepage,
director of athletics. The Harrison estate gift includes $5.8
million that will be used to improve facilities for academic services,
dining operations, and other programs that will benefit all student-athletes.
additional $3.1 million will complete Harrisons $10 million
pledge for the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American
History, Literature, and Culture, part of the University
To be housed in a new complex now under construction that also
will contain the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections
Library, the institute will include an exhibition gallery, research
space, multimedia classrooms, and other facilities for scholarship
and public outreach.
H. Webb, one of Harrisons five children, said her fathers
generous estate provisions reflect the familys many ties
to the University.
generations of Harrisons have attended the Law School, and it
was always an important part of his life, she said. He
admired the discipline and intellectual rigor of the law, even
though it was not his lifelong profession. As for medicine, both
of my parents were treated at the University with incredible skill
and incredible dignity. That experience forged lasting relationships
with members of the faculty there.
mother of a current U.Va. student, Mrs. Webb also noted that her
father planned for the future in everything he did,
including his support for the University. Thats why
he was interested in endowed chairs. He considered professorships
the best way to make a difference in education and to strengthen
the Universitys ability to impart knowledge to future generations.
David A. Harrison III
David A. Harrison III earned his bachelors degree at
the University in 1939 and his law degree in 1941. He served
in World War II and practiced law in New York until 1959,
when he joined the investment banking firm of Reynolds &
Co., later Dean Witter Reynolds. In his retirement, he operated
Flowerdew Hundred Farm, a working farm near Hopewell and site
of one of the earliest English settlements in America. At
the University, he was a trustee of the Law School Foundation,
a member of the Alumni Association Board of Managers, and
a member of both the University and the Law School campaign