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Donor’s commitment to U.Va. becomes lasting legacy
$64 Million Gift From Harrison Estate To Endow Professorships In Law And Medicine / $50 Million Trust To Ensure Future Aspirations

Oct. 4, 2002-- The late David A. Harrison III of Hopewell, one of the University of Virginia’s most loyal and generous alumni during his lifetime, has made an even greater impact on the institution through his estate.

A retired lawyer, investment banker and farmer, Harrison died June 8 at the age of 85. Recent distributions from his estate and a previously established trust have provided the University with $64 million, most of it directed toward endowed professorships in the schools of law and medicine. The Virginia athletics program and the University Library also will benefit from the estate’s provisions.

In addition, Harrison created an irrevocable trust in excess of $50 million, which will come to the University in 25 years. With these new gifts, contributions to the University made by Harrison and his late wife, Mary, total more than $150 million.

“Once again, David Harrison’s generosity has made its imprint on the University in ways both profound and long-lasting,” said University President John T. Casteen III. “Through this forward-looking gift, he has strengthened immeasurably the schools and programs that were always closest to his heart—law, medicine, athletics, and the study of our nation and its people.

“One of David’s great gifts was his ability to take the long view,” Casteen continued. “His vision encompassed outcomes not just months or years ahead but decades into the future. His long-range goal was always to make the areas he benefited the best they can possibly be. This gift will enable us to fulfill his bold aspirations for the University.”

As directed by Harrison, who earned a bachelor’s degree at the University in 1939 and a law degree in 1941, $34.8 million of the gift will endow professorships in the School of Law. The new Harrison chairs will be funded at a level competitive with the most prestigious academic positions in the nation, according to John C. Jeffries Jr., dean of the Law School.

"David Harrison was a visionary benefactor. We shall honor his vision and his leadership by using his bequest to build and retain the best law faculty in the nation,” said Jeffries. “In accordance with his wish, the chairs will be reserved for persons of exceptional distinction who, as he said, 'not only possess an appropriate dedication to the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields, but whose foremost attribute is a demonstrated interest in and talent for the teaching of students.'"

The Harrison gift provides $20.3 million for faculty support in the School of Medicine, which will use the funds to endow professorships in areas where they will have the greatest impact. The school also will endow a new Harrison Scholars fund, which will reward faculty members judged by their peers to be the best teachers.

“Mr. Harrison’s overwhelming generosity will allow us to attract and retain some of the most accomplished medical faculty in the nation,” said Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., dean of the School of Medicine. “By bringing gifted faculty into our classrooms, laboratories, and clinics, we fulfill our mission to our students to advance medical knowledge, and to our patients from across the Commonwealth to provide the highest quality of care.”

Over the years, Mary and David Harrison established a number of professorships in law, medicine, and archaeology. David Harrison also made possible the Harrison Research Awards, which provide grants to undergraduates for independent scholarly projects. Harrison helped to support expansion and renovation of the Law School’s facilities, named the David A. Harrison III Law Grounds in his honor, and his gifts to athletics funded such improvements as David A. Harrison III Field, the grass playing surface at Scott Stadium.

“Mr. Harrison's generosity in supporting intercollegiate athletics has been a key component in providing high quality facilities here at U.Va.," said Craig Littlepage, director of athletics. The Harrison estate gift includes $5.8 million that will be used to improve facilities for academic services, dining operations, and other programs that will benefit all student-athletes.

An additional $3.1 million will complete Harrison’s $10 million pledge for the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture, part of the University Library. To be housed in a new complex now under construction that also will contain the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, the institute will include an exhibition gallery, research space, multimedia classrooms, and other facilities for scholarship and public outreach.

Marjorie H. Webb, one of Harrison’s five children, said her father’s generous estate provisions reflect the family’s many ties to the University.

“Four generations of Harrisons have attended the Law School, and it was always an important part of his life,” she said. “He admired the discipline and intellectual rigor of the law, even though it was not his lifelong profession. As for medicine, both of my parents were treated at the University with incredible skill and incredible dignity. That experience forged lasting relationships with members of the faculty there.”

The mother of a current U.Va. student, Mrs. Webb also noted that her father “planned for the future in everything he did,” including his support for the University. “That’s why he was interested in endowed chairs. He considered professorships the best way to make a difference in education and to strengthen the University’s ability to impart knowledge to future generations.”


About David A. Harrison III
David A. Harrison III earned his bachelor’s degree at the University in 1939 and his law degree in 1941. He served in World War II and practiced law in New York until 1959, when he joined the investment banking firm of Reynolds & Co., later Dean Witter Reynolds. In his retirement, he operated Flowerdew Hundred Farm, a working farm near Hopewell and site of one of the earliest English settlements in America. At the University, he was a trustee of the Law School Foundation, a member of the Alumni Association Board of Managers, and a member of both the University and the Law School campaign executive committees.

Contact: Carol Wood, (434) 924-6189

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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