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Founder's Day

Founder's Day

April 13, 2018

Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, has been celebrated at the University of Virginia since the University’s first academic session. Locally, the celebration is known as Founder’s Day.

On Founder’s Day, UVA and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello join together to present the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals to recognize achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard. 

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals in Architecture, Law, and Citizen Leadership are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which grants no honorary degrees. This year's recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are:

  • Medal in Architecture: Sir David Adjaye OBE, a globally acclaimed architect and founder of Adjaye Associates renowned for his ingenious use of materials and sculptural designs, including the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture.
  • Medal in Law: Frank H. Easterbrook, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and senior lecturer of law at the University of Chicago Law School known for his expertise in antitrust law, criminal law and procedure, and corporate law.
  • Medal in Citizen Leadership: Morgan Carrington "Cary" Fowler, Jr., an American agriculturalist and former executive director of the Crop Trust whose decades of work championing crop diversity and conservation included the creation of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault — the world’s largest collection of crop diversity, housing more than 930,000 distinct varieties.

In addition to a formal dinner at Monticello, the medalists will be recognized at a luncheon in the Dome Room of the Rotunda. It is at this luncheon where Teresa Sullivan, president of UVA, and Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, will present this year's medalists with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals. While on Grounds, the medalists in Architecture, Law, and Citizen Leadership will give a free public lecture in their field of expertise (schedule). The lectures are free and open to the public.

Additionally, the Citizen Leadership medalist, Cary Fowler, will be the featured keynote speaker at Monticello’s commemoration of Jefferson’s 275th birthday at 9:45 a.m. on April 13. More information about the celebration is available on Monticello's website.

Lastly, on Founder’s Day, the University plants a tree in celebration of a member of the UVA community who has made significant, lasting contributions to University life. The 2018 recipient will be announced in March 2018.