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Founder's Day

Founder's Day

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, Citizen Leadership, Global Innovation, and Law are the highest external honors bestowed by the University, which grants no honorary degrees.

Four awards – the Thomas Jefferson Medals in Architecture, Law, Citizen Leadership and Global Innovation – are typically presented during celebrations including a formal dinner at Monticello, a medal presentation at UVA and public talks by the medalists. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Architecture medal will be given during a virtual event, while the other medals will be deferred until 2022.

This year's recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture is Francis Kéré, acclaimed architect known for his pioneering communal approach to design and commitment to sustainability. Kéré gave a virtual public talk on April 12 at 5 p.m. (EDT), hosted on Zoom.

Lastly, as part of the Founder’s Day celebration, the University plants a tree in celebration of a member of the UVA community who has made significant, lasting contributions to University life. On Tuesday, October 5, 2021 we will pay tribute to the 2020 honoree John C. Jeffries. The following week, on Thursday, October 14, we will honor the 2021 recipient Teresa A. Sullivan.