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Frank BattenU.Va. Alumnus Frank Batten Sr. Gives $60 Million To Darden, Largest Gift Ever To A Graduate School Of Business

Dec. 10, 1999 -- The Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia has received the largest gift ever contributed to a business school. The $60 million gift is from University alumnus Frank Batten Sr., the retired chairman of Landmark Communications, Inc., an international media company whose broad holdings in electronic and print media include The Weather Channel in Atlanta and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

Announced Friday by Darden School Dean Edward A. Snyder, Batten's gift propelled the Campaign for the University of Virginia beyond its $1 billion goal. To date, the fund-raising effort has received nearly $1.036 billion in gifts, pledges, and deferred commitments. The Batten gift brings Darden's campaign total to $182 million, well above its goal of $100 million, and increases the school’s endowment by 37 percent.

Benefitting Darden's programs in entrepreneurial leadership, Batten's gift will have far-reaching economic impact in the United States and abroad, Snyder said. "It provides the resources to allow the school to be a powerful agent for the development of new sources and methods of value creation."

The foundational center of those resources will be the Batten Institute, which becomes operational Jan. 1, 2000. The Institute succeeds the Batten Center, established early in the campaign with a $13.5 million challenge gift from Batten and his family, and will build on its successes. Funds from the gift already have been earmarked for a number of purposes. These include:

  • five new endowed professorships,

  • a 75 percent increase in endowed scholarship resources,

  • a fellows program to bring corporate executives to the school, and

  • a venture capital fund to allow students and faculty to test entrepreneurial principles in real-world situations.

Darden also will create an office in Northern Virginia that will offer a broad array of programs to entrepreneurial firms in a region that Snyder calls "the nation's hotbed of innovation."

A 1950 graduate of the University's College of Arts and Sciences and a long-time benefactor of the Darden School, Batten said his aim in making this gift is "to challenge and enable Darden to become a global leader in the new entrepreneurial economy."

"Entrepreneurs in firms both large and small are the drivers of innovation and economic growth, and they are providing America with a powerful competitive advantage," Batten said. "Darden now has the resources to become a world-class educator and knowledge resource for the entrepreneurial economy. Thomas Jefferson, himself an inventor and entrepreneur, would have insisted on nothing less."

Pointing out that new businesses are creating more than a million jobs a year and that the nation will set a record of more than $50 billion in initial public offerings in 1999, Snyder said the region stretching from Baltimore to Charlotte, N.C., is superbly positioned to be the spine of the nation's most intense entrepreneurial activity.

Charlottesville "should be its heart," said the dean. "We can do this by leveraging Darden's leadership on such transformational business issues as diversity, innovation, e-business, strategic alliances and sustainability, and by tapping the expertise resident in other schools throughout the University."

The new Batten Institute will set out to multiply the achievements of the Batten Center, including the Charlottesville Venture Forum as well as other similar programs that bring together entrepreneurs and venture capital firms. The Center also publishes the Journal of Business Venturing, an authoritative research journal that focuses on the fields of entrepreneurship, new business development, technology and innovation.

"It is fitting that the University has reached its milestone as the result of such a remarkable gift from Frank Batten," said University President John T. Casteen III. "Our campaign had an historic beginning -- the Clifton Waller Barrett library of American rare books

and manuscripts -- that established the University as a premier center for the study of American literature. We have surpassed the $1 billion mark with Mr. Batten's equally revolutionary endowment that will recast business education. We are deeply grateful for Mr. Batten's vision, his leadership and this extraordinary vote of confidence in our faculty and in our students."

The Campaign for the University of Virginia was launched on Oct. 6, 1995, with an initial goal of $750 million. In February of 1998, the goal was increased to $1 billion and extended to the end of 2000.

The Institute's new board of directors will include Batten's son, Frank Batten Jr., a 1984 graduate of the Darden School and the current chairman of Landmark Communications.

For more information, contact Phil Giaramita, vice president/director of public relations, at the Darden School at (804) 924-3220. A photo of Mr. Batten can be e-mailed to you. Call Karen Asher in the U.Va. News Office at (804) 924-3801.

Contact: Carol Wood, (804) 924-6189

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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