The University of Virginia in Charlottesville has announced a $100 million gift from Frank Batten, Sr. to create the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
The largest gift in the university's history will fund a new venture that has been on the drawing board for the past several years. The Batten School is expected to enable the university to address critical policy issues in Virginia, the United States, and around the world. The new school's primary goal — in both its undergraduate and graduate programs — will be to supply the nation with visionary leaders who can drive the policy innovation process, energize organizations, build inclusive coalitions, and translate good ideas into action.
A 1950 graduate of the UVA College of Arts and Sciences, Batten is the retired chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications Inc., a privately held media company whose holdings include the Weather Channel, the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, and the Roanoke Times. The school — the first new school to be established at the university since the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration in 1954 — will work closely with the university's schools of law, business, medicine, engineering, and education, as well as with university programs in the areas of politics, economics, and applied ethics.
According to provost Gene D. Block, the school will strengthen the university's capacity to fulfill its teaching, research, and public service missions while further distinguishing it among its peers, raising its visibility and enhancing its academic reputation. "This is truly a transformational moment in the university's history," he said. "I don't think we can even begin to imagine the long-term impact of the step we are taking today."