U.Va. receives $27.5M gift for democracy projects
Silver Eagle Distributors CEO John L. Nau III's foundation made donation
John L. Nau III, president and CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors LP, the largest Anheuser-Busch beer distributor in the country, has donated $27.5 million to the University of Virginia’s new Democracy Initiative at the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the university announced Wednesday.
The Nau Foundation’s gift will be combined with more than $17 million in matching funds from the Bicentennial Professors Fund, bringing its impact to $44 million, according to a U.Va. news release. Nau is a 1968 U.Va. graduate who majored in history and is a former Board of Visitors member.
The Democracy Initiative was started in 2018 in cooperation with the Miller Center of Public Affairs, supporting research, teaching and public engagement on democracy. Nau’s gift will primarily support the initiative’s Core Lab, creating 10 endowed faculty positions in history, politics, classics and philosophy, as well as up to four visiting positions.
Nau’s donation also supports the college’s Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy, and he designated $2 million as an unrestricted gift for use by the dean of Arts & Sciences in light of financial constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am deeply grateful to John for his vision and compassion,” U.Va. President Jim Ryan said in a statement. “John has always understood the importance of studying democracy and preparing a new generation of citizen-leaders, and his generous gift will help us do just that.”
In 2015, Nau gave the university $13 million to start the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History and, earlier, $11 million for the construction of Nau Hall, where the Corcoran Department of History is housed.
He is based in Houston and serves on multiple boards, including as vice chairman of the National Park Foundation Board of Directors and vice chairman for U.Va.’s Capital Campaign.