Design + Med Ed

Medical Students work to create solutions to challenges observed as a part of UVA’s Medical Design Program.

Design thinking, also known as human-centered design, is a problem-solving framework for addressing complex, system-based challenges. UVA is at the forefront of a growing group of medical schools and health systems exploring how design thinking can be integrated into medical education. Students engage in hands-on ‘design sprint’ workshops focused on priority healthcare issues, using data they collect through direct engagement with patients, healthcare leaders and community members. The UVA Medical Design Program (UVAMDP) gives future physicians the skills, confidence and experience they need to help address complex patient care and public health challenges throughout their careers.

The program was created in 2015, focusing on instruction to first-year medical students. However, due to continued growth and demand, UVAMDP received a second Jefferson Trust grant in 2019 to help expand access to ‘health design thinking’ curriculum and workshops. Funds went towards developing credit courses and electives for medical students throughout their time at UVA and to develop online versions of program workshops that can be shared as research within and outside of the UVA School of Medicine.

The Medical Design Program has become an established and valued part of the medical education culture and offerings at UVA, such that prospective students are consistently inquiring about the program. Medical design lectures are being integrated throughout the school’s curriculum, both in workshops to the entire second-year class and in a new elective for fourth-year students approved by the school’s curriculum committee, with the first course being offered in February 2021.

In addition, and most relevant to 2020, the Medical Design Program team was able to quickly assist in the School of Medicine’s response to COVID-impacted students by quickly developing and deploying virtual five-day design sprint workshops for third- and fourth-year students who were not allowed onto clinical wards, but needed to continue their studies. While their project has been delayed due to the demands of adapting to COVID-19, the pandemic has also helped the team think critically on the types of flipped classrooms and online learning curriculum that will be most useful as long-term educational offerings for students.

Not only is the program impacting medical students and faculty, it is also providing a center for multi-disciplinary collaboration focused on improving public health and healthcare through design thinking and other design approaches. Faculty engagements with the Medical Design Program are from across Grounds, including Architecture, Engineering, Nursing, Darden and the College.

The Medical Design Thinking Team, led by Dr. Matthew Trowbridge, has been nationally recognized for their work, publishing peer review articles, contributing to a recently published ‘Health Design Thinking’ textbook, and speaking widely about their work and impact at UVA. You can visit their website to learn more.

Jefferson Trust 2019-20 Annual Report

Snippet of cover of the 2019-20 Annual Report

This has been an exceptional year for the Jefferson Trust as you can see in our 2019–20 Annual Report. Our Flash Funding cycle has proven successful and the Trustees have voted to make it a permanent fixture of our grant-making. This was a year of crisis with COVID-19, and the Trustees responded by giving an out of cycle emergency grant to President Ryan to aide in the University’s response. All told, for the first time, the Trustees awarded over $1 million in grants, which will further President Ryan’s strategic plan and impact on the UVA Community.

The seeds of funding trustees sowed several years ago are blossoming into significant, important fixtures of University life. To date, the Jefferson Trust has granted more than $8.9 million to 227 different projects covering a broad range of schools and programs, resulting in strengthening the quality of education, as well as Virginia’s national and global reputation.

We are excited to share the continued growth and impact of the Trust on Grounds and beyond! The trustees eagerly await the next great idea.

2020-21 Annual Cycle Application Now Open!

We fund great ideas from students, faculty, and staff

Whether you’re on Grounds or virtual this semester, the Jefferson Trust Annual Cycle application is open for the 2020-21 academic year! Learn more.

All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on October 1. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in February 2021.

To learn more about what the Trust funds, join one of our Virtual Info Sessions on Zoom:

Please contact our Grants Administrator, Amy Bonner, with questions or to schedule a one-on-one appointment about your project.

Flash Funding, which awards grants of $10,000 or less, will be available in the spring semester starting in January 2021. Check our website or Facebook page in December for more information when the application opens.

Have a Great Idea? Read This!


Jefferson Trust award recipients

Interested in applying for a grant, but not sure where to start? Here are insights on the application process, including some tips from Elgin Cleckley, assistant professor in the School of Architecture and a grant recipient with multiple successful submissions to the Trust over several years.

Before submitting a proposal

  • Research! Use the guidelines and additional information provided to determine whether your great idea aligns with the mission of the Jefferson Trust.
  • Use the application to help frame your idea:

“I found the goals of the Trust, creativity, innovation, leadership, and University and/or student experience, as excellent guides when developing ideas for the application. These four points became a rubric — beneficial in discussions in collaborations, evaluation, and testing of the grant ideas, helping to guide the development of program goals and narrative.”

  • Refine your vision:

“A clear, easy to understand narrative is essential — with University, student, and community impacts.

For example, for the Minority Pipeline Architecture Program with Barbara Brown Wilson and the School of Architecture, we were sure to focus on the data of African American students in the field, the established national program through the National Organization of Minority Architects, and details on the adaptation of the project here in Charlottesville.

We were sure to include the leadership roles for students at the School of Architecture, empathic, established connections with community organizations, and above all, lifelong skill building for our local Charlottesville design participants.

The impacts are evident, as the engagement continues this summer online with the UVA Equity Center, with students from the past program.”

  • Reach out. Jefferson Trust staff is here to help — if you have questions, contact us!

During the review process:

  • Be prepared to answer follow-up questions. Trustees may ask for clarifications by email or during presentations to the board.
  • Know your audience. The individuals who comprise the review board span a broad range of industries and life experiences and may or may not be experts in your subject matter.

“It is important to also think of the diversity of the Trust — ensuring that your idea/program is inclusive in its content, guiding your presentation at the interview.

We were sure to bring physical imagery to the interviews, to clarify any points of our idea, and overall, to create excitement.”


  • Keep in touch with the Trust. Let us know how things are going, and what we can do to help.

“It’s helpful for recipients to know of the support network of the Trust, advisors, and recipients. This support network allows for further expansion of your idea / program and provides beneficial guidance during development.”

Above all, the Trust wants its grants to be successful. Many of the most common problems can easily be resolved by reaching out — whether it is a question on how to convey an idea within the proposal, how to address an obstacle during implementation of the program, or how to scale up and manage success.

The Jefferson Trust network includes our highly engaged Trustees, well-connected former grant recipients, and University supporters. Come join us!

Hoos Connected: from Pilot to Full-scale Program

Hoos Connected

Hoos Connected is a University-wide campaign created to help UVA students build cohesive and supportive peer connections. The relationship-building is fostered by students meeting in small groups over the course of 12 weeks. It includes discussing and evaluating barriers to connection, establishing trust, and recognizing shared human experiences. Hoos Connected encourages creativity by asking students to step outside their comfort zone and engage honestly with others who are different from themselves. The program extends beyond the concept of “safe spaces” and creates brave spaces where students can learn to negotiate difference and more candidly share experiences of challenge and hope.

Dr. Nicole Ruzek and Dr. Joseph Allen received funding from the Trust in 2018 to help launch the program, which included bringing guest speakers to Grounds, aiding in marketing outreach efforts, and bringing on graduate assistants and student workers to help in the program launch and accompanying research. In its first semester, the program started as a cohort of 35 first-year students participating in 4 small groups. Impact was felt immediately and continues to grow each semester. The program’s success has also established the need to offer the program to transfer students and in the residential colleges.

With its proof of concept and early successes, Hoos Connected received additional funding from the Office of Student Affairs in early 2020 to expand staffing and capacity and a grant from the President &x Provost’s fund to further the program. “Both of these grants were leveraged based on the existing work funded by the Jefferson Trust; hence the Trust was instrumental in bringing in this higher level of funding and in dramatically expanding the scope of work being performed,” shared Ruzek. This funding will help scale the low-cost, high-impact program to the wider student body, reducing the issues students face surrounding mental health and social pressures.

Hoos Connected is just one of several projects funded by the Trust that have gone on to receive additional and sustaining grants from the President’s or Provost’s Offices. Ignite, USOAR and the Arts Mentors Program are other initiatives that have continued to grow and expand due to additional funding sources on Grounds, becoming an integral part of the UVA student experience and enhancing the University community.

The trustees eagerly await the next great idea.

Investing Beyond Tuition

The Burgoyne family

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.

The Clark family

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.

Flash Funding Grant Cycle Announcement

The preservation of the Alderman card catalog is among the flash funding grant recipients

The Jefferson Trust is excited to announce our 2019–2020 Flash Funding Grant Awards, totaling $108,716. A majority of the 13 projects awarded went to student organizations.

The flash grants are:

Rotunda Planetarium Phase 2 & Preservation of Alderman Card Catalog: $10,000

Funding provides additional public nights for the Rotunda Planetarium and the publication of a book detailing the multidisciplinary history of the Rotunda. An ongoing project to preserve the historic Alderman Library card catalog for future research will also be supported.

Aboriginal Art on Grounds (Documentary): $7,000

Funding supports the production of a short documentary capturing student engagement with Aboriginal art at UVA through two recent exhibitions: “The Inside World” at the Fralin Museum and “Munguyhmunguyh (Forever)” at the Rotunda.

Native American Student Union Powwow: $3,750

NASU’s Powwow at UVA is an annual celebration of Native American culture and the biggest event the organization hosts. The powwow is open to the public and has hosted nearly 600 spectators who learn about Native traditions through engaging in a broader community.

Formula SAE Team 2019–20: $9,966

Funding will support and expand experiential learning for the fledgling Formula SAE team as they design and build a car to race in national competition.

UVA Safe and Sustainable Driving: $7,000

A team of students will analyze data collected by Facilities Management from 182 fleet vehicles to improve driving skills and sustainable driving practices. This will allow the team to generate initial results in order to secure larger funding through NSF or DOE sources.

Graduate English Students Association’s Annual Graduate Conference (UVA GradCon): $1,000

The Graduate English Students Association will present an annual graduate conference, themed “Transformation.”

Kluge-Ruhe Permanent and Summer Exhibitions 2020: $10,000

UVA students will gain significant experience in helping with two upcoming exhibitions: “From Little Things, Big Things Grow” in the permanent exhibition galleries at Kluge-Ruhe; and the summer exhibition in Kluge-Ruhe’s rotating gallery, “Bapurru (Remembering): New Yolngu Prints from Milingimbi and Yirrkala.”

Retold: Celebrating Women of the University of Virginia: $10,000

To honor the 100th anniversary of the Board of Visitors resolution allowing white women to enroll in some of the University’s graduate and professional programs and the 50th anniversary of full coeducation, the UVA Alumni Association and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at UVA will host Retold, a celebration of the transformational impact of women on the University of Virginia.

Modeling the Spreading of the Coronavirus: $10,000

School of Engineering faculty are creating three research groups of undergraduate students who will set up effective models for the spread of the disease and then merge the three models into a more comprehensive model.

Arctic Design Group | 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale, Italy: $10,000

Funding will support Architecture faculty and students in the production of an Arctic-focused design installation which will be exhibited at the world-renowned Venice Architecture Biennale. The group’s participation in the Biennale will provide a unique opportunity to promote UVA’s design excellence and provide an exceptional experience to UVA students on a premier global stage.

“Stepping Out” into Deeper Understandings of Marginalized Families: $10,000

Using recent research, this project will help train teachers for home visits, focusing on self-reflection, understanding systemic privilege and disadvantage, and recognizing listening techniques that are more and less effective for deepening relationships.

So Many Ways to Say “I Belong at UVA”: Documenting Linguistic Diversity among the UVA Student Body: $10,000

This project will help to train teachers for home visits, focusing on self-reflection, understanding systemic privilege and disadvantage, and recognizing listening techniques that are more and less effective for deepening relationships.

1970: May Strike in Context — Oral Histories of Alumni: $10,000

The UVA Library will host a major exhibition, “1970: May Strike in Context,” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the May Strike and the larger cultural context that sparked student activism at UVA.

Men Behind the Masks

Gaurav “Gino” Giri and Bala Mulloth

Everyone is experiencing the changes and effects of COVID-19 at varying levels. This is true for Gaurav “Gino” Giri, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Bala Mulloth, Assistant Professor of Public Policy. These professors are co-founders of Hava, Inc., and received a $100,000 Jefferson Trust grant in January to recruit students across Grounds to aid in researching air-filtering technologies, partnering with stakeholders to study the impact of these technologies in the U.S. and several developing countries, and working with entrepreneurially minded students interested in bringing emerging research to market. Both professors hope students will develop hands-on, practical experience, while also increasing their critical and creative thinking skills.

Since March though, the nature of their project has changed and is growing increasingly timely and impactful. Mulloth shares that “we need a three-month runway before product is ready for market, but the need is immediate.” “Science labs are closed, and not having students on Grounds to help in research is a big disadvantage” admits Giri. But Giri has kept his lab in use, volunteering his lab space and time to test the filtration strength of homemade masks and N95-like masks, making sure these masks work to filter coronavirus particles at the appropriate level. The team is hoping that students can still help with market research and design concepts for masks and potential future wearable filtration items (i.e. a scarf). To meet needs more quickly, Giri and Mulloth are also exploring sub-licensing opportunities and other options with companies to get masks manufactured as efficiently as possible.

The initial motivation for establishing Hava was to create affordable air filtration products to make life in heavily polluted areas healthier for all, as the World Health Organization labeled air pollution “a silent public health emergency” in October 2018. However, through the coronavirus outbreak, both Mulloth and Giri see a long-term increased need for their air-filtering products that they initially didn’t expect.

With the help of Scott Gwilliam (Com ’91), Keith Woodard (Col ’71, Darden ’75), trustees and the project’s mentors, the team is contacting manufacturers about how to scale production and bring more masks to market. To stay up-to-date on Hava news, follow their website.

Breaking the Sound Barrier: A Deaf Opera Workshop

Three female opera singers

What is opera without the voice? How does the story change when the lead characters are deaf?

The Breaking the Sound Barrier workshop explored these questions, and many more, and made an impressive start at integrating such seemingly disparate experiences. The creative team behind this endeavor hopes that the work done and the lessons learned will transfer into a full production opera in the next year.

The intensive weeklong workshop culminated in a performance at Old Cabell Hall which kicked off the Disabilities Studies Symposium. It was a truly inspirational event!

Three professional opera singers and three deaf actors traveled to Charlottesville to hold this workshop on Grounds, allowing UVA students to interact with, learn from and participate through the process. While the event took place at the end of February, preparations began months in advance. The creative team selected six scenes from Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” (an opera which focuses on the religious persecution of a group of nuns during the French Revolution) and began translating them into a stage version of American Sign Language. Via video conferencing and finally in-person, the team of actors, singers, the conductor and the director struggled with a multitude of challenges over several months. In an article from the Washington Post, director Alek Lev declined to share a vision for the event until the group came together in-person to rehearse — it was that groundbreaking.

At the performance on February 27, the audience was a mix of deaf and hearing, and the majority had little or no experience with opera. After an opening scene, director Alek Lev welcomed the audience and walked through some of the challenges the team had faced in rehearsals that week. The scene was then presented again, reimagined. Throughout the performance, Lev interjected with explanations, providing background on intervening scenes not presented and sharing anecdotes about the scene to come. In one scene, an ensemble of UVA student singers joined the actors on the stage for Ave Maria.

At the end of the performance actors, singers, directors, and interpreters gathered on stage for a Q&A session with the audience. Each shared personal stories of powerful moments during the workshop and the months of preparations leading up to it. Everyone agreed it was one of the most important things they’ve done, and there was a deep interest in continuing to explore the integration of deaf opera from all parties.

“Breaking the Sound Barrier” is the brainchild of Brenda Patterson and Miriam Gordon-Stewart of Victory Hall Opera in Charlottesville. Patterson is a faculty member at the University of Virginia Music Department. Watch for more information on their progress toward a full production of “Dialogues of the Carmelites!” For those who missed the live performance, a documentary of the workshop is also in progress.

Experience at Every (St)age

We tend to think of the word ‘experience’ in terms of time (i.e., do you have enough of it to be knowledgeable?).  But ‘experience’ can also mean perspective (i.e., what is the knowledge you gained from yours?).  Both are vital to maintaining a successful board with a diversity of backgrounds and views exercised to meet the needs of a dynamic organization.

The Jefferson Trust needs — and has — both, as both are critical to effectively evaluating grant proposals.

The trustees span six decades of UVA alumni, from 1963 to 2019.

The oldest trustee, Lee Forker, completed his MBA from Darden in 1963.  A Navy Vietnam Veteran and retired Boston-based professional investor, Forker is also the longest serving trustee, carrying a great deal of organizational memory. He brings broad knowledge of the financial sector and UVA’s philanthropic landscape.  He is a principal supporter of the annual Alumni Family Weekend, annually supports the Darden Foundation and created an endowed chair in the College of Arts and Sciences to honor his favorite Darden professor, John D. Forbes.

Forker serves on the Trust’s Grants Committee, reviewing every proposal and taking pages of copious notes on each.  He’s a stickler for financial details and the likelihood of success of each application and is laser-focused on making sure each grant has a clear and direct impact on Grounds, saying, “I only approve applications that will benefit some sector of the University.”

He loves the projects and the people, saying that “It keeps me sharp.” He quips, “It’s the surest way to stave off Alzheimer’s.” “And I love the wisdom of older people and the energy of young people.”

One of those young people is George Brown, a 2019 graduate of the College. Brown is just starting his career, working with the action and adventure sports media company Teton Gravity Research. He is well aware of the value a broad age range plays in a grant-making body.  He says, “While the younger generation may have a pulse on current students, we are all tied to the University through its traditions, which are often carried by the older generation.”

“[The trustees’] range of perspectives are tied to the same goal,” he says. That goal is advancing UVA, and Brown wants to work on that goal for the rest of his life.  “For me, the Trust is the first step in a lifetime of service to the University.”

The exact midpoint between George’s 2019 graduation year and Lee’s in 1963 is 1991, which is the year that husband and wife trustee pair Jenn and Scott Gwilliam both graduated.  Jenn and Scott are also parents to two current students, which gives them a unique perspective in reviewing grant applications. “We watch people present [their proposals] and see the impact through our kids’ eyes,” says Scott.  “One of my daughter’s favorite professors is a grantee, and I was able see the grant in action in her class.”

Scott Gwilliam is a regular mentor to grantees as well.  Most recently, he’s worked to help 2020 grantees Gaurav Giri, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Bala Mulloth, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, in scaling their mask-filtering technology to help stop the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 and protect people in areas with bad air pollution. “It has enormous potential, and I hope I can help,” he says.

For Jen and Scott Gwilliam, this experience and these relationships — including those with fellow trustees — are what makes the Trust so special. Scott says, “There’s energy and enthusiasm from younger trustees, expertise and knowledge from people in the middle, and wisdom and warmth from the older trustees.  It’s one of the most dynamic, interesting and fun ways to give back.”