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Multimillion-dollar gifts reshape university programs

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Jaffray Woodriff’s Quantitative Foundation is giving $120 million to UVA.
Photo courtesy Governor of Virginia

Major philanthropic gifts are reshaping educational and research programs throughout Virginia.

In January, the University of Virginia announced plans to establish a $200 million School of Data Science with the help of a $120 million donation from a Charlottesville investor who credits data analysis for his success.

Jaffray Woodriff, a 1991 graduate of the U.Va. McIntire School of Commerce, said he “first glimpsed the remarkably broad possibilities of data science” at U.Va. Woodriff is co-founder and CEO of Quantitative Investment Management.

His donation — the largest private gift in the university’s history — is from the Quantitative Foundation, of which he is trustee, and his wife, Merrill Woodriff, also a U.Va. graduate, is a director.

The data science school, which will require approval from the board of visitors and the state, will incorporate U.Va.’s Data Science Institute, established by a previous Quantitative grant.

In December, the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust and Heywood and Cynthia Fralin committed to giving a record $50 million to Virginia Tech to support research at the newly renamed Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke.

The donation will support recruiting and retaining biomedical researchers. The gift is twice as large as any other single donation to Virginia Tech.

Construction of a $90 million, 139,000-square-foot Biomedical Research Addition building at the VTC Health Sciences and Technology Campus is expected to finish in spring 2020.

The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and the VTC School of Medicine also are on the campus. The statewide economic impact of the complex was $214 million in 2017. That figure is expected to more than double, approaching $500 million annually by 2026.

In November, Old Dominion University opened the Barry Art Museum on its Norfolk campus.

The 24,000-square-foot, two-story museum is the result of art and financial contributions valued at $37 million from Richard and Carolyn Barry of Suffolk.

Richard Barry is the retired vice chairman of Landmark Media Enterprises (formerly Landmark Communications).

The Barrys’ collection includes 123 glass-art objects; 70 paintings, prints and drawings; and 90 antique dolls.

The collection is expected to add to Norfolk’s prominence as an art-glass mecca. The Chrysler Museum of Art has a highly regarded glass-art collection.

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