First Gift to the Campaign

Jack OwenIt has to start somewhere. Although we’re celebrating the end of the Campaign for the University of Virginia, it all began with a $13,246 gift from the late John “Jack” Owen (Engr ’39). This gift, a transfer of Owen’s interest in the University’s pooled income fund, became effective on Jan. 1, 2004, the first day of the campaign’s “quiet phase.” And although Owen passed away in November 2012 at the age of 96, he surely would agree that his unique designation as the campaign’s very first donor is quite fitting: as the University’s first vice president for development, he laid the groundwork for the University’s capital campaign that launched in 1981.

A third generation alumnus, Owen graduated with honors from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and went on to serve in the Army, receiving a Bronze Star for his service in World War II. Following his 1981 retirement from his role as vice president of development (a position for which he was hired by then University president Frank Hereford in 1976), Owen served as a consultant in the office before fully retiring at the age of 70 in 1986. A member of the IMP Society and the Seven Society, he was honored with the Raven Award in 1994 for his years of service to the University, specifically for his efforts to connect donors to various projects at U.Va.

Owen asked that the majority of his funds be designated to the Seven Society, for the purpose of benefitting causes close to his heart. He wished to fund a scholarship for a Lawn Resident (as he himself had lived in 29 West Lawn during his time at U.Va.) and also contributed to the restoration of East Range 14, the room his father, Colonel Leartus J. Owen, had lived in as a student in the late 1890s.