The Campaign Kickoff Dinner, shown above before the guests arrived, was chaired by Mrs. Jordan Saunders.

Our Lifelong Conversation with Mr. Jefferson

The Campaign for the University of Virginia, the largest per capita fund-raising campaign ever undertaken by a public institution, officially opened October 6-8 with a series of events on Grounds. More than one thousand alumni and friends came to Charlottesville to hear President John T. Casteen, III, deliver the State of the University address, listen to former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove read from her works, and attend discus sions by University professors on their latest research. Visitors could take a moment out from their busy schedule to relax at an Alumni-Hall re-creation of Carroll's Tea Room.

The University's guests later enjoyed an elegant, candle-lit dinner on the Lawn, organized by Jordan Saunders, a member of the campaign executive committee. After dinner, President Casteen expressed his admiration for the University's benefactors and speculated on the powerful loyalty that inspires them: "The an swer, I think, is our individual and general attachments to Mr. Jeffersonone with whom all of us, consciously or not, began here a lifelong conversation about the most fundamental human values. As we seek to preserve his creations and to realize his notions of progress in our own time, our engagement with him deepens."

Journalist and alumna Katie Couric, serving as the emcee of the event, introduced speakers such as Edward L. Ayers, Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History, and recent U.Va. graduate and Rhodes Scholar Zayde Antrim .

A $10 million gift from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Saunders, III, was announced at the kickoff weekend.

Katie Couric and President Casteen at a luncheon for the Lawn Society.

The evening ended with remarks from the chairman of the campaign and former University rector, Joshua P. Darden, Jr., who closed the program with a heartfelt letter to Mr. Jefferson. "What we've all come tonight to say is you can rest, Mr. Jefferson. We are here now. You can set down the burdens of the school, you can set them down. All is safe. All of us here tonight and others who love this place are lifting those burdens from your shoulders and your great heart. You never again need worry about the prosperity of the Uni versity. We will carry on your dreams. You are free. So, old friend, be at peace . . . and rest well."

Leadership Gifts to Sustain the future

A sampling of leadership gifts helps tell the story of a University community deeply committed to reshaping Jefferson's University to meet the challenges of the new century:

· The estate of Marjorie Davenport included a $6 million bequest to the University's general endowment fund. Mrs. Davenport and her late husband, Braxton Davenport (Col '31), had long been support ers of the University. As part of the general endowment, the gift will be a source of unrestricted capital that permits the University to pur sue new ventures and strengthen its academic programs.

· C. Willis Ritter (Law '65) of Washington, D.C., has made a long-term commitment of $5 million to the School of Law by naming the Law School Foundation the irrevocable benefi ciary of his retirement plans. The new gift will endow an expanded awards program that Mr. Ritter established in honor of his parents several years ago.

· The late Jane C. Albach of Richmond, Va., made a $3.4 million deferred gift commitment to the University. The math and astronomy building has been named William Kerchof Hall in memory of her father.

· Harrisonburg business leader Charles O. Strickler has contributed $3 million to the Univer sity of Virginia's Transplant Center. The gift creates the Strickler Family Eminent Scholars Professorship in Transplant Surgery and the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Research Fund for basic and clinical studies. The gift is instrumental in helping the University achieve its goal of joining the nation's top twenty programs in organ transplantation.

· The Health Sciences Center received $2.1 million in a bequest from Ruth C. Heede, a former patient in the University Hospital. Mrs. Heede designated $1 million to support patient needs and $600,000 to fund cardiovascular research. The remaining $500,000 will supplement a professorship she established in 1991.

· Lyell B. Clay (Law '48) and his brother Buckner W. Clay (Col '42) of Charleston, W.Va., have pledged $2 million to the School of Law in honor of their father, Buckner Clay (Law '00). In recognition of their generous gift, South Hall a new structure in the Law Grounds project will be named Buckner Clay Hall.

· Los Angeles businessman William Hobson has donated $1.5 million to fund two professor ships in the School of Medicine, one in the school's new department of health evaluation sciences and the other in health information sciences.

· Jerrold Robinson (Col '44) and his wife, Joanne Robinson, of Rye Brook, N.Y., have created a $1.5 million trust to support the College of Arts and Sciences. The deferred gift will support the Dean's Fund for Excellence, which provides unrestricted money to help the College meet unforeseen needs.

Campaign chairman Joshua P. Darden, Jr., read a letter to Mr. Jefferson to close the kickoff dinner on the Lawn.

· James C. Slaughter (Col '49, Law '51) of New York has made possible an additional $1.5 million gift to the School of Law from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, which he direct s. This commitment follows two pledges totaling $2.5 million that Mr. Slaughter made through the foundation earlier in the campaign. In recognition of his contributions, the west hall of the new Law Grounds complex will be named James C. Slaughter Hall.

· Philip and Patricia Gibson of Charlottesville have contributed real estate valued at $1.3 mil lion to the Curry School of Education. Their gift will eventually endow a professorship, a graduate fellowship, and an unrestricted fund for excellence. Mr. Gibson died in September.

· The estate of Dr. William C. Barr has provided $1 million to establish undergraduate scholar ships in memory of his wife, Elizabeth White Barr. The scholarships will be awarded by the Office of Financial Aid to students who have successfully completed their first year of study.

· William L. Matheson (Law '50) of Hobe Sound, Florida, has made a $1.25 million pledge to create a research professorship in criminal law. Mr. Matheson funded the professorship to honor his friend Robert Morgenthau, longtime district attorney for the District of New York.

· Michael A. Caddell (Col '76, Law '79) and Tracey Conwell of Houston have committed $1 million to support a professorship in law and to help build the Law Grounds Project. A moot court facility and a new Law School Foundation conference room will be named in their honor.

· The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Princeton, N.J., has pledged $1 million to the School of Medicine for its Minority Academic Advancement Program.

· John L. Nau, III (Col '68), of Houston made an $800,000 commitment to establish an en dowed professorship in American history and to support the Jefferson Scholars Program. Mr. Nau is a member of the National Leadership Gifts Council, a group of volunteers who will pursue campaign objectives in cities throughout the country.

· C. Wilson McNeely, III (Col '64), and his Charlottesville-based company, Eagle Corp., have committed $700,000 to support the Jefferson Scholars Program, the President's Endowed Discre tionary Fund, and the Alumni Association. Mr. McNeely is a member of the Board of Visitors.

· Corporate gifts include: $1 million from United Technologies to the Darden School for lead ership and entrepreneurship programs (this gift will be matched by $1 million from the Bat ten Family Leadership Challenge); a grant of computer equipment valued at more than $1 million from IBM's Shared University Research Program; and a research MRI scanner from Siemens Medical Systems, Inc., valued at more than $2.5 million for the Department of Radi ology as well as three research projects in that department.

David A. Harrison, III: Fulfilling the Highest Aspirations

David A. Harrison, III (Col '39, Law '41), made what may be the largest gift in the history of our athletics program, $5 million to fund replacement of Scott Stadium's artificial turf with natural grass. The field, appropriately, will be named the David A. Harrison Field at Scott Stadium.

With this gift, Mr. Harrison's contributions to the University exceed $16 million. This year, Mr. Harrison made a new $3 million commitment for the Law Grounds, which will be named in his honor. In addition, Mr. Harrison has funded professorships in archaeology, law, and medicine.

"David Harrison's overriding goal, which was shared by his late wife, Mary, has been to enable the University's programs in law, medicine, and archaeology and now athletics to compete at the highest levels," President Casteen said. "Very few individuals have had the effect on an institution's aspirations that Mr. Harrison has had here."