The UVA Alumni Association has lost someone who built lasting relationships with UVA students, alumni and partners and made an extraordinary impact around Grounds.
Molly Bass (Col ’88, Educ ’90), the association’s senior director of scholarships and endowments, died June 22. Bass, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in counselor education from UVA, joined the Alumni Association in 1994.
“She single-handedly grew the Alumni Association’s portfolio into what it is today, which includes nearly 150 custom scholarships and endowments,” said Lily West (Darden ’12), president and CEO of the association. “Molly’s commitment to scholarships and endowments was unparalleled.”
West recalled letters Bass would send her from scholarship recipients. “Not only did I love reading about the extraordinary students, but also, I loved seeing Molly’s passion for helping them,” West said. “As Molly wrote to me once, ‘The stories behind some of these students are truly more valuable than the dollars we provide them.’”
Colleagues said that Bass was famous for her passion, commitment and rigor in everything she did.
“Her attention to detail was legendary. There was nothing that was too small that wouldn’t attract her notice,” said Ruth Haile (Engr ’79), who, as a member of the Mead Endowment and Sky Alland Scholarship advisory boards, worked with Bass for nearly 30 years.
Haile recalled grocery shopping for Bass, who was immunocompromised, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. “Molly would send me a grocery list every week, and there were two things that were hilarious about this,” Haile said. “First, she organized the list according to the way things are organized in store, so I could start on the left side of the store and walk up and down the aisles to collect everything on one path. I don’t know anyone who makes a list like that. Molly had everything down to a science.”
Haile wondered why Bass always needed so much fish oil, free-range chicken and organic yogurt, and eventually realized they were for Bass’ beloved Bernese mountain dogs. “I thought, ‘oh my God, these dogs just have the most beautiful coats of fur in the world because that’s how she cared for these dogs.’”
Whether it came to feeding her dogs, providing scholarships or hosting faculty-student dinners, Bass always communicated her expectations clearly. “Life would be so much better if people were direct the way Molly was,” Haile said. “There was never a question of where she stood on anything. If she didn’t like the way something was, she’d say so. I loved that about her.”
At Alumni Hall, Bass worked in scholarships for 28 years. Before joining the Alumni Association, she worked as a health educator at UVA’s Institute for Substance Abuse Studies (now the Gordie Center) and a marketing manager at a Charlottesville senior living community.
In her free time, Bass could be found at UVA baseball games with her father, Lucien Bass (Engr ’63, Darden ’65), and her mother, Mary Bass.
Gifts made to the University of Virginia Alumni Association in memory of Molly Bass will be designated for a scholarship fund. Details of the fund will be determined with Bass' family in the coming weeks.