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Founder's Day

Founders 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 of the ceremony is given to the Arboretum and Landscape Committee, who forwards their recommendation to the President's Office.

In October 2021, two ceremonies will be held to pay tribute to the 2020 and 2021 honorees, John Jeffries and Teresa Sullivan, respectively.

  • John Jeffries: Tuesday, October 5 from 4:00-4:30 p.m. in the Spies Garden, near the Law School
  • Teresa Sullivan: Thursday, October 14 from 2:00-2:30 p.m. on the Lawn, near Pavilion X


2020 Tree Planting Honoree
John C. Jeffries, Jr.

This year, on October 5th, we will pay tribute to the 2020 honoree John C. Jeffries, Jr. A 1973 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Jeffries has dedicated his professional life to the University. Among his many roles at UVA, he has been Dean of the Law School and Senior Vice President for University Advancement, as well as a treasured member of the law faculty for more than four decades. Jeffries currently serves as David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law and as counselor to UVA president Jim Ryan.

The tree planting ceremony will take place at 4:00 p.m. in the Spies Garden, near the Law School.This event is free and open to the public. Complimentary parking will be available in the Darden Parking Garage (map).


2021 Tree Planting Honoree
Teresa A. Sullivan

This year, on October 14th, we will pay tribute to the 2021 honoree Teresa A. Sullivan, who served as the University’s eighth president. From 2010 to 2018 she led the University through a period of transformational change. Among her many accomplishments, she addressed the generational turnover of UVA’s faculty, preparing the University for its third century of teaching and scholarship; completed a $3 billion capital campaign; established a Strategic Investment Fund to provide significant support for scholarships, research, academic initiatives, and health care services without using tuition dollars; restored the Rotunda, the centerpiece of the University, and launched UVA’s bicentennial commemoration. She created the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, which recommended the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, and the President’s Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation. The University’s rank for federal R&D dollars rose from 75th nationally to 51st during this time. The expansion of the University’s global aspirations was recognized with the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization, and the University won the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Award for its sustainability accomplishments. With these achievements, President Sullivan provided strong leadership for UVA during eight years of pivotal change for American higher education.

The tree planting ceremony will take place at 2:00 p.m. on the Lawn, near Pavilion X. The event is free and open to the public. Complimentary parking will be available in the Central Ground Parking Garage (map).

For the complete list of officially designated memorial trees on Grounds, please click here.


Last updated: September 14, 2021