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.
This year's recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are:
- Architecture: Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, co-founders of the multidisciplinary design practice, WEISS/MANFREDI, known for redefining the relationships between landsape, architecture, infrastructure and art through their award-winning projects.
- Citizen Leadership: Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation and a leader in global development. Shah was the USAID Administrator during President Barack Obama’s administration and has deep experience in business, government and philanthropy.
- Global Innovation: Ted Turner, a media pioneer and philanthropist working to promote sustainability, environmental initiatives and charitable efforts around the world.
- Law: Sonia Sotomayor, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 after a distinguished legal career.
The Founder's Day celebrations include a formal dinner at Monticello, a medals presentation at UVA, public talks by the medalists, and a tree planting ceremony. However, due to ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and limitations on events and travel, this year’s in-person events have been cancelled and the medals will be given in absentia.