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Leading the Way

$100 million gift will create new school

Frank Batten Sr.

The largest single gift in the history of the University will create the first new school at UVA in more than a half century. Frank Batten Sr. (Col ’50), retired chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications Inc., has donated $100 million to create the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

The aim of The Batten School, in both its undergraduate and graduate programs, will be to train leaders who can drive the policy innovation process, energize organizations, build inclusive coalitions and translate good ideas into action. The new school will be closely aligned with many of the University’s existing schools, including law, business, medicine, engineering and education, as well as with key programs such as politics, economics and applied ethics.

“There’s an urgent need to develop a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders who can bring about transformational change,” Batten says. “Talented public leaders are needed from a range of professional backgrounds, including law, medicine, business administration and the social sciences. It is critical to get younger people excited about the responsibilities and opportunities of public service in all its manifestations.

“The earlier in their careers that exceptional students begin to think of themselves as future public leaders who can promote a better society,” he adds, “the greater the likelihood they will become such leaders.”

Provost Gene Block, who played an integral role in planning the school, says its grounding in critical thinking, scientific inquiry and public engagement, coupled with a focus on leadership skills, will distinguish it from similar programs around the country.

A new dean to head The Batten School will likely be appointed in the next year and classes will begin in the fall of 2009. The school will be comparable in size to other public policy programs at leading public research universities, with an estimated enrollment of 390 students—225 undergraduates and 165 graduate students. It will have 18 full-time faculty members and will draw on a half-dozen other faculty from schools and departments across the University.

The last school to be created at UVA was the Darden Graduate School of Business, 53 years ago.