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Commemorative Coins To Support Foundation Formed To Promote Scholarly Exchanges Between U.S. And Iceland

June 21, 2000 -- Proceeds from the sales of the new U.S. and Icelandic Leif Ericson commemorative coins will support the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation at the University of Virginia, created this spring to finance graduate-level student exchanges between both countries. The foundation will promote the advanced study of Iceland, including its history, culture, literature, science, law, business, medicine, technology and other areas.

The Eiríksson Foundation also is working as a partner with the White House Millennium Commission to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of Leifur Eiríksson's discovery of the New World.

"The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation will provide significant resources that will enable generations of students to explore all of the educational opportunities that both countries hold," said Robert Kellogg, U.Va. professor emeritus of English and chair of the foundation's board of trustees. "The University of Virginia, its Health System and Graduate Arts and Sciences programs are especially excited about this endeavor, given all of the treasures the Republic of Iceland possesses in genetics, the environment and literature."

In genetics, for example, "they've done some incredible work," Kellogg said, explaining that researchers have compiled what is essentially a "genetic map" of the nation's relatively small population of around 270,000.

The University of Virginia is currently expanding its efforts in the international arena, one of four key areas in which it hopes to improve its national standing as part of its Virginia 2020 planning initiative. The others are the fine and performing arts, science and technology and public service.

The Eiríksson Foundation is a cooperative effort of U.Va. and the Central Bank of Iceland, and is a natural outgrowth of a number of cordial and productive relationships between

Iceland and the students and faculty of the University over the last 50 years. Several U.Va. scholars have a direct interest in Iceland and its heritage, beginning with President John T. Casteen III, an authority in medieval literature, including Norse sagas. Kellogg, an expert on medieval Icelandic literature, first studied in Iceland in 1956, lectured frequently at the University of Iceland in Rekjavik as a U.Va. faculty member, and this spring taught a full courseload there. Marshall Brement, another board member and the Hugh S. and Winifred Cumming Memorial Professor of International Affairs at U.Va., is a well-respected former U.S. ambassador to Iceland.

A third board member is Donald K. Fry, a former member of the English faculty and a published authority in Scandinavian literature. The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation board will have two additional members appointed by the Central Bank of Iceland and the prime minister of Iceland. The chair will rotate every two years between the Icelandic and U.Va. representatives.

The foundation will supplement the resources from the U.S. Mint and the Republic of Iceland with support from private individuals and corporations that encourage international education.

For more information on the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, contact Patrick Ingram at (804) 924-0530.

Contributions may be sent to the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation, c/o the University of Virginia Foundation, PO Box 400218, Charlottesville VA 22904-4218.

See Smithsonian Millennium Exhibition on "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga"

Contact: Dan Heuchert, (804) 924-7676

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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