Even during a pandemic, the fall semester brings enthusiasm from new and returning students. The fall is also a time for parents, the unsung heroes of the collegiate process. They provide their fledgling college students with moral support, advice, and often to their chagrin, credit card access. Some parents elect to take this challenge a step further: they become trustees, doubling down on their investment in the student experience.
Twenty-three of the 71 trustees are parents to current students or have a child who is an alumnus.
For the parents of current students, being trustees gives them insight to the UVA community and makes them part of the University’s life. They learn more about their child’s professors and about what student groups are doing, and they help shape the student experience by voting on new grants.
Jon Clark (College ’81) and his wife, Terri Clark (Parent ’16, ’22) are the parents of two Wahoos. Their daughter, Devon, finished in 2016 and their son, Jack, is a third year.
Terri, who is not an alumna, has been just as involved in the Trust as Jon. She believes strongly in the unique value the Trust adds to the University community, stating, “I feel lucky to be able to participate in such a unique investment vehicle at The University of Virginia. The Jefferson Trust relies on each trustee to use their varied skills to vet, select, award and advise grantees on initiatives that will benefit the UVA community.”
The Trust also brings Jon and Terri closer to UVA, and to their son’s new home. “It’s especially fun to be a trustee while my son is attending the University. The Trust gives my husband and me, currently Arizona residents, an excuse to visit once a quarter. And while my son may feel we see him more than he had ever envisioned, he is always eager to meet the other trustees at events.”
Jim Taylor (Com ’88, Law ’94) has been a trustee since 2016, when his daughter Gracie became a first year. “I love the experience of connecting with current students and faculty and seeing the innovative grant requests. It’s a wonderful way to be part of the university community,” he says.
Most of the trustees who are parents of alumni are alumni themselves and being on the Trust is a chance to reconnect to the family’s school. However, for trustees such as Jim and Erin Burgoyne who did not attend UVA, being part of the Trust has provided an opportunity to give back to the school that helped shape their son, a 2016 graduate. Speaking of the experience, they believe he “benefited from the University of Virginia’s strong academic credentials and core principles of honor and integrity.”
In joining the Jefferson Trust, the Burgoynes say they found “a focused and hands-on opportunity to contribute to the student experience and help the University of Virginia continue developing citizen leaders.”
This sentiment of ‘developing citizen leaders’ truly befits the Trust’s namesake and is a testament to all the trustees — alumni, parents and friends — who continue Jefferson’s charge over 200 years later.