March 22, 2006 — Hailing from 24 states and the District
of Columbia as well as India and South Korea, 96 finalists
competed in Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend March
16-19 on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. At
the weekend’s conclusion, the Jefferson Scholars
Selection Committee of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation
extended offers of a Jefferson Scholarship to 44 of the
The merit-based criteria for selection as a Jefferson Scholar
are demonstrated excellence and exceptional potential in
the areas of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.
Scholarships cover the full cost of attending the University,
including tuition and fees, room and board, books, and
Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend consisted of a range
of activities, including a math/logic exam, essay exercise,
faculty-moderated seminars, and a final interview. Current
Jefferson Scholars hosted the finalists during their
time in Charlottesville and shared their own University
in a series of roundtable discussions. Finalists toured
the Grounds and Monticello, attended classes alongside
U.Va. students, and visited student organizations.
In advance of the weekend, the Foundation assigned readings
to be used as the basis for the essay exercise and seminars.
This year’s readings focused on the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina, and served as the centerpiece for seminars
entitled “Hurricane Katrina and the Arts: Rebuilding
and Rethinking” and “How Science Can Help
Predict Disasters Such as Hurricane Katrina.”
Those offered Jefferson Scholarships received e-mail
notification on Monday, March 20, and have until April
20 to accept.
This year's finalists emerged from over 800 Jefferson
Scholar nominees. The Foundation identified finalists
avenues: 45 regional competitions around the country,
and a separate competition that permitted a review of
and Architecture School applicants and every student,
including international applicants, attending schools
to compete in the regional competitions.
The task faced by the Jefferson Scholars Selection Committee,
comprised of U.Va. alumni, faculty and administrators,
was indeed a difficult one. There are 21 expected valedictorians
and salutatorians among those offered Jefferson Scholarships.
The average SAT score is 2252 (out of 2400), with 19 different
individuals receiving perfect scores of 800 on one or more
portions of the examination.
Besides exemplary academic credentials, the group has pursued
a wide range of endeavors outside the classroom. Of the
44, 24 are on academic or debate teams, 23 are varsity
athletes and 19 are team captains, 22 participate in the
performing arts, and 11 have conducted independent science-related
A closer review of those offered Jefferson Scholarships
reveals one who has been published in the Journal of Molecular
Structure, and another who is the national winner of the
Wendy’s High School Heisman Award for boys. There
is a regional president of the Federation of Temple Youth,
a ropes course instructor who works with autistic youth
and a winner of the Miss Dance USA competition.
"The Jefferson Scholars Foundation's mission is to benefit
the University of Virginia by recognizing and rewarding
excellence. These young men and women embody excellence
in leadership, scholarship, and citizenship, and possess
the potential to provide the next generation of leadership
to the University, the nation, and the world," said
James H. Wright, president of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation.
Over four years, a Jefferson Scholar from Virginia receives
approximately $66,000; an out-of-state Jefferson Scholar
receives over $130,000. The Foundation currently supports
125 undergraduate students.
Private gifts from alumni and friends of the University
have built the Jefferson Scholars Foundation over the past
25 years. A supporting foundation of the University
of Virginia Alumni Association, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation’s
endowment exceeds $155 million. A $100 million capital
campaign will be a subset of the University’s broader
$3 billion campaign.
"The work of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation would
not be possible without the support of the University's alumni
— not only their financial support but also their contributions
of time and energy," said Wright. "This year
more than 700 dedicated alumni devoted time to the Jefferson
Scholars Foundation, including serving on the regional
selection committees that picked the Jefferson Scholar
finalists. There is no other initiative at the University
that consistently involves such a large number of alumni
in active and productive service on behalf of the institution."