As a public high school student in Baltimore in the mid-1950s, Joel Levin applied to two colleges — the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia. Accepted at both, he was eager to start the next chapter of life and chose the school in Charlottesville, where classes started a week earlier. It was love at first sight. “I took the train down to Charlottesville and fell in love with the place and that was it,” he said.
Levin (College ’58) was only 16 when he enrolled at the University. He majored in economics and took classes in geology and American history. He joined Phi Epsilon Pi and made lifelong friends, including Cecil Jacobs(College ’58), of Richmond, his roommate during his third and fourth years.
After four years in Virginia, and knowing he wanted to practice law in Maryland, Levin enrolled in law school at the University of Maryland, graduating in 1961. He has worked as an attorney in Baltimore for more than 50 years, specializing in personal injury, criminal law and litigation. Now he is scaling back a bit at work to spend more time on leisure activities, such as playing golf, collecting Baltimore sports memorabilia of the 1890s and collecting historic letters written by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison. He also has volunteered for the University of Virginia, helping to organize his 50th-year reunion.
In addition to giving his time, Levin also has given back to the University financially. He has found charitable gift annuities particularly useful as they provide mutual benefits to the donor and the University.
In contrast to money market accounts and two-year CDs, which were paying less than 1 percent on average in the early part of this year, charitable annuities were paying significantly more. For Levin, gift annuities were a way to make a charitable gift while receiving income at an attractive rate.
At the same time, his love of history and sense of the importance of historic preservation motivated him to respond to the University’s call for support of the renovation of the Rotunda.
“The Rotunda is U.Va.’s most important asset,” he said. “It should be the No. 1 priority for anyone who loves the school. In my mind, U.Va. is the Rotunda, and the Rotunda is U.Va.”
Why give now? Because he can and because he wants to be sure the University has the resources needed, not only to save the Rotunda now but also to preserve it for the future.
Levin has lived in Baltimore for all but the four years he spent in Virginia. But they were important years. “Whatever success I’ve had in life, whatever manner of person I’ve become,” he said, “I owe a great deal of it to U.Va.”