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Founder's Day

Founders Day Tree Planting

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. This year's honoree is Mary Hughes.

On January 23 of this year, Mary Hughes retired from UVA after more than two decades of working as the University Landscape Architect. Mary served as co-director of the Historic Landscape Institute, an adult education program jointly sponsored by UVA and Monticello, featuring the Jefferson landscapes of central Virginia as laboratories for applying historical horticulture and preservation practices. She is the co-editor with Charles Birnbaum of a book, Design with Culture: Claiming America’s Landscape Heritage, which chronicles the origins of the landscape preservation movement in the United States. In 2012, she was awarded the Lagasse Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects for conservation and stewardship of the public landscape.

Other accomplishment includes:
Managing the University’s first Landscape Master Plan, formulated by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects in 1998, and leading and managing the 2013 Academical Village Cultural Landscape Report, compiled by Heritage Landscapes and Rivanna Archaeology.

Proactively promoting more sustainable stormwater management practices at UVA (ahead of state regulations), which resulted in signature projects like the iconic Dell Pond and Meadow Creek daylighting project designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.

Serving on the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, which led to the construction of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, which Hughes helped shepherd on behalf of the Office of the Architect.

Participating in the South Lawn Project, including the somber but creative interpretation of the Kitty Foster home site and cemetery, designed by Walter Hood. She helped guide the design of the Ivy Corridor development, currently under construction, from its inception, and managed some 10 years of summer student Cultural Landscape Survey internships.

Participating in many large projects on Grounds, including the 2005 moving of Varsity Hall, one of the first infirmaries built for a college campus, designed with a unique air-handling system. The building was moved about 185 feet northeast to its current location to accommodate the construction of Robertson Hall at the McIntire School of Commerce.

The tree planting ceremony will take place at 11:15 a.m. on the lawn, in front of Pavilion III, and will include remarks from President Ryan; Worthy Martin, Chair of the Arboretum & Landscape Committee; and Mary Hughes. The event is open to the public.

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