Founder's Day

Founder's Day | Tree Planting

"Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity."
-Thomas Jefferson

In 1970, the University instituted an annual tradition of planting a tree to honor an individual who has made significant and lasting contributions to the design, planning, and maintenance of the Grounds.  Planted at a public ceremony presided over by the University President on Founder's Day, the tree is to serve as a living memorial celebrating the individual's legacy. The task of selecting the Founder's Day tree honoree, tree species and location is given to the Arboretum and Landscape Committee, who forwards this recommendation to the President's Office.

The honoree of this year's tree planting is Alexander G. Gilliam, Jr., known to all as Sandy. Sandy, is one of the longest-tenured and most beloved employees at the University of Virginia. He is one of a few people who can truly say he has lifelong ties to UVA. He comes from a family who started attending UVA in 1829, just four years after the University enrolled its first class of students. 

Sandy received a B.A. in History from UVA in 1955 and later returned to Grounds for graduate work in History. Away from Charlottesville, he served in the U.S. Foreign Service in Israel, the Chad, Cameroon, and Lebanon; in the office of the Secretary of State; in the office of Virginia Governor Linwood Holton as Special Assistant; and again, in the State Department as a Deputy Assistant Secretary.

In 1975, Sandy returned to UVA to work as Special Assistant to President Hereford and continued in that role under Presidents O’Neil and Casteen. In 1991, Sandy was elected Secretary to the Board of Visitors. Although he continued as Special Assistant to the President, his principal duties were with the Board of Visitors. In May 2009, Sandy went on partial retirement and assumed a new role as the University’s History Officer and University Protocol Officer. In this position, he oversaw visits to the University by heads of state and other senior government officials and helped to prepare records on the University's history. In June 2014, at the age of 81, Sandy officially retired from the University, but he can still be seen on Grounds daily.

The tree planting ceremony will take place on the northwest side of the Rotunda (map) on Thursday, April 13, at 11:00 a.m. 

map of the ceremony's location


Please see the list below for a listing of all officially designated memorial trees.