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The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which grants no honorary degrees. The 2015 recipients are:

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture: Herman Hertzberger, an internationally acclaimed Dutch architect who has made significant contributions to the world of modern architecture. He established his firm, Architectuurstudio HH, in 1960. In 2012, he was awarded one of the world's most prestigious lifetime achievement awards in architecture, the Royal Gold Medal.

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law: The Honorable Joan E. Donoghue, the current American judge serving on the International Court of Justice and a lifelong public servant in the fields of international and foreign relations law.

Thomas Jefferson Foundation in Citizen Leadership: U.S. Representative John R. Lewis, (D-Ga.), a civil rights activist, lifelong public servant and central player in America’s struggle for equal rights. Lewis chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and organized the march from Selma to Montgomery, which took place 50 years ago this week, on March 7, 1965.


Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture:
Herman Hertzberger


Herman Hertzberger HeadshotInternationally acclaimed Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger opened his own firm of architects in 1960, the present-day Architectuurstudio HH – known for its many schools, housing complexes and cultural centers, both in the Netherlands and in other countries. Among its most famous buildings are the headquarters of Centraal Beheer insurance company in Apeldoorn, the Vredenburg Music Centre in Utrecht and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in The Hague.

Hertzberger has won numerous competitions and international architecture prizes, both for individual projects and for his oeuvre as a whole. In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal, given in recognition of a distinguished body of work.

Hertzberger is acclaimed as a “sociological architect” and creator of innovative common spaces. In his writings and buildings, he challenged the early modernist belief that “form follows function” – that the shape of the building was defined by its purpose. His celebrated Montessori School in Delft rethought classroom design, acknowledging that the school operates on two levels, addressing the needs of both the community and the child, and developing architectural forms that maximized interactivity and equity between the educational program and the individual’s needs.

Additionally, his use of an open field of repetitive geometry in the design of the Centraal Beheer headquarters offices expressed the equality of all employees. Hertzberger’s elongated atrium in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment was one of the first successful developments of the concept of “the internal street.”

“Herman Hertzberger is the rare architect who excels as a designer, a theorist and an educator,” said Elizabeth Meyer, dean of the University of Virginia School of Architecture. “For 50 years, he has pursued a set of enduring concerns that are timeless, resonating across decades and generations. (His) architecture revels in the everyday, creates spatial frameworks that are adaptable and responsive, and exploits the affective qualities of architectural form and space.”

“I am especially pleased that Hertzberger is our 2015 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist,” she continued. “He has substantial expertise in designing buildings that shape the public realm at all scales, from a stoop to an interior courtyard atrium to a street, and that emphasize the gradient or threshold between public and private. This is one of the architect’s most important tasks. This preoccupation with the ‘in-between’ of architecture is part of what differentiates our university’s historic Grounds from many campuses; it is also a characteristic of the School of Architecture’s cross-disciplinary ethos.”

Hertzberger’s projects have been published and exhibited all over the world. He was one of the editors of FORUM, an influential Dutch magazine, and he published the books “Lessons for Students in Architecture” (1991), “Space and the Architect” (2000) and “Herman Hertzberger: Space and Learning” (2008). In addition to the many books written about him, his work has been featured in two documentaries, the 2010 “Searching for Space,” by director Kees Hin, and “The School as City,” by Moniek van de Vall and Gustaaf Vos in 2012. His latest book, “Architecture and Structuralism: The Ordering of Space,” will be available in May.

Hertzberger was born in Amsterdam in 1932 and graduated from the Technical University in Delft in 1958. He has lectured and taught around the world, including at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, the Technical University of Delft and the University of Geneva in Switzerland. He also served as dean of the post-graduate architecture program at the Berlage Institute.

The School of Architecture will host a public talk by Hertzberger on Monday, April 13 at 3 p.m. in the University of Virginia’s Caplin Theatre (map). Free parking is available in the Culbreth Road Garage.

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Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law:
The Honorable Joan E. Donoghue


Joan Donoghue HeadshotJoan Donoghue was elected a judge of the International Court of Justice on Sept. 9, 2010 – only the third woman chosen to be a member of the court. The General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations then re-elected her for a nine-year term beginning Feb. 16.

Established in 1945 and located in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Composed of 15 judges, it settles disputes between nations and renders advisory opinions at the request of other organs of the United Nations.

Since joining the U.S. Department of State in 1984, Donoghue has pursued a distinguished career in international law. In support of her nomination for a second term, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked, “Since joining the court in 2010, Judge Donoghue has demonstrated exceptional intelligence, integrity and independence in addressing the diverse and complex issues that come before the court. Her knowledge, temperament and commitment to the rule of law make her an outstanding choice for this important position.”

As the principal deputy legal adviser from 2007 to 2010, Donoghue was the State Department’s senior career lawyer, and served as the acting legal adviser to the secretary of state for the first six months of the Obama administration. For this work, she received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Honor Award and the Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious Executive).

Donoghue’s earlier responsibilities in the Office of the Legal Adviser included economic sanctions, investment, aviation, the law of the sea, international environmental law, state and official immunity, and responsibility for issues arising in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In addition to her service at the State Department, Donoghue served as a deputy general counsel for the Department of the Treasury and a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow.

She has taught at several U.S. law schools and has lectured widely on international law. Within the United States, she focuses particular attention on audiences who are not familiar with the role that international law plays in their daily lives. She also has lectured on investment law in the United Nations Regional Training Course for Africa.

"Joan Donoghue began her career in international law more than 30 years ago. During her many years of service at the U.S. State Department, she was responsible for a succession of diverse and important issues, culminating in three years of service as the Department of State’s senior career lawyer,” said Paul Mahoney, dean of the University of Virginia School of Law. “In this role, she helped direct a large legal office that advises one of the world’s most complicated organizations on some of the world’s most delicate legal issues. As a judge of the International Court of Justice, she participates in settling disputes between states and in fostering the progressive development of international law.”

Donoghue was born in 1956 in Yonkers, New York. In 1978, she graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with honors degrees in Russian studies and biology. She received her juris doctor in 1981 from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

The School of Law will host a public talk by Joan Donoghue on Monday, April 13 at 10 a.m. in the Law School's Caplin Pavilion (map).

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Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership: John R. Lewis


John Lewis Headshot Born the son of sharecroppers on Feb. 21, 1940 outside of Troy, Alabama, John Lewis grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama

His rise to prominence began as a student at Fisk University, when he organized sit-in demonstrations at Nashville’s segregated lunch counters. In 1961, Lewis volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. He risked his life on those rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism, including sit-ins and other activities.

By 1963, at the age of 23, he was dubbed one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. He was an architect of, and a keynote speaker at, the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

In 1964, Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi “Freedom Summer.” The following year, he helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Alongside Hosea Williams, he led more than 600 peaceful, orderly protesters on an intended march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. On March 7, 1965, as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty in the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite enduring more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as associate director of the Field Foundation and through his participation in the Southern Regional Council’s voter registration programs. Lewis went on to direct the Voter Education Project, which transformed the nation’s political climate by adding nearly 4 million African-Americans to the voter rolls.

“Congressman Lewis exemplifies citizen leadership,” said Allan Stam, dean of the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. “From his days as a student leader to his co-founding of SNCC to his long career as an elected official, he has selflessly served the public good. We are honored to welcome him to the University of Virginia for this special occasion.”

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Lewis to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.

In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council, where he advocated for ethics in government and neighborhood preservation. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986 and has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then. He is the Democratic Party’s senior chief deputy whip, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will host a public talk by John Lewis on Monday, April 13 at 2:30 p.m. in the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library Auditorium (map).

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For a complete list of past recipients (from 1966 to present) please click here.