Scholarships have a long history at UVA. Early examples can be traced back to 1848, when a residential college for scholarship students, now known as Brown College, was built on Monroe Hill. Students there were given grants by the Commonwealth of Virginia to attend the University.

Over the years, gifts to scholarships have helped scores of UVA students—and many gifts to endow scholarships still generate funding for students today. The examples given here date back to the first alumni gift to need-based scholarships. Recently, the Board of Visitors established the Bicentennial Scholars Fund, providing $100 million in matching funds to encourage private support—positioning the University to serve students well into our third century.

The Board of Visitors’ minutes record the earliest scholarship gift from an alumnus, Isaac L. Carey, who made a gift “to found scholarships for the benefit of poor and deserving young men.”

Through his estate, Dr. James Rufus Humphrey, of Bluemont, Virginia, endowed a scholarship “for needy and deserving students” in any department. Created with a bequest of $4,239, the estimated distribution from this endowment is almost $9,000 a year.

A $7,000 gift from Board of Visitors member Hollis Rinehart created scholarships for students from Albemarle County and Charlottesville. The market value of the fund is now $254,000, which generated more than $12,000 for scholarships in 2017-18.

The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation, honoring philanthropist and businesswoman Letitia Pate Whitehead, has funded more than 600 scholarships and fellowships in the School of Nursing, School of Medicine, and the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Friends and colleagues of John A. “Jack” Blackburn—which included all deans of admission at Virginia public universities—created an endowed scholarship to honor the former dean of admission. The inaugural Blackburn Scholarship was awarded to Ladi A. Smith (Col ’13,Curry ’18).

John Griffin (McIntire ’85) created a $4 million challenge grant to support both the first year of the Blue Ridge Scholarship program and its long-term endowment. The first class of Blue Ridge Scholars entered in fall 2014 and will graduate in spring 2018.

In 1959, Michael Bright White’s family founded the Bright School for the Deaf in New Orleans. The school’s mission centers on early intervention and children’s speech and language development. The Bright-White family’s vision and generosity was powerfully and personally motivated: White was born deaf due to complications at birth. By learning lip-reading and other skills at the Bright School, he was able to transition to mainstream education and thrive.


To me, the Bicentennial Scholars Fund is a really smart program because it doubles the impact of your gift. I hope it encourages others to make gifts to scholarships.”

—Michael White (Col ’81)


After graduating from UVA and becoming successful through oil and gas, real estate, and other investments, White (Col ’81) decided to help others at the University. He and his wife, Virginia, recently pledged $1 million to endow the Michael Bright White Scholarship Fund.The scholarship will award need-based aid to candidates selected through a preference system for students who are deaf or planning to work with deaf children, and/or for students from Louisiana. Thanks to the Bicentennial Scholars Fund, the University will match the Whites’ $1 million gift for a total endowment of $2 million, producing approximately $100,000 a year in scholarship support.

“This is the kind of transformational gift in support of student access and affordability that the Board of Visitors envisioned when it established the Bicentennial Scholars Fund,” said President Teresa A. Sullivan. “The launch of the University’s bicentennial and the commitments we make now will shape UVA’s character for its third century. Our promise is that excellence and affordability will always go hand-in-hand at UVA.”