Founder's Day

Founder's Day

April 13, 2016

This institution [the University of Virginia] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind."
–Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, has been celebrated at the University of Virginia since the University’s first academic session.

On Founder’s Day, UVA and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the private, nonprofit corporation that has owned and operated Monticello since 1923, 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, held in high regard -- architecture, law, citizen leadership, and new this year, global innovation.  Additionally, the University also plants a tree in celebration of a member of the UVA community who has made significant, lasting contributions to University life.

This year's Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals will be awarded to:

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

The Citizen Leadership medalist, Marian Wright Edelman, will also be the featured keynote speaker at Monticello's commemoration of Jefferson's 273rd birthday on April 13 on the West Lawn of Monticello starting at 10:00 a.m. The celebration is free and open to the public and a livestream of Edelman's address will be available at

To read the full press release announcing this year's recipients, please click here.