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April 13, 2015


Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, has been celebrated at the University of Virginia since the University’s first academic session.

On Founder’s Day, UVa and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the independent, nonprofit organization that has owned and operated Monticello since 1923, join together to present the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals to recognize enduring contributions in three fields that Jefferson held in high regard -- architecture, law, and citizen leadership. These medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which grants no honorary degrees.

This year's recipients are:

    • Medal in Architecture: Herman Hertzberger
    • Medal in Law: The Honorable Joan E. Donoghue
    • Medal in Citizen Leadership: U.S. Representative John R. Lewis (D-GA)

This year’s medalists joined a distinguished roster of past winners that includes architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and Maya Lin; seven former and current U.S. Supreme Court justices; former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher; Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America; Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; and several former and current U.S. senators, including John Warner, George Mitchell, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Sam Nunn and James H. Webb Jr.

While on Grounds, the recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals each gave a public talk in their field of expertise. To see the complete schedule of events, please click here.

In addition to the presentation of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals, UVa plants a tree in celebration of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the University. This year's tree was dedicated to the enslaved laborers who built and maintained the University from 1817 to 1865.


"This institution [the University of Virginia] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind." –Thomas Jefferson