In an effort to increase enrollment of first-generation students, David and Jane Walentas has donated $100 million to the University of Virginia (UVA).
David Walentas, a New York real estate developer, is an alumnus of UVA and was also the first in his family to attend college.
According to the university, 75 million of the gift will be set aside for scholarships and fellowships while the remaining $25 million will go towards professorships through the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and Darden School of Business. The focus is on recruiting students from Virginia, Rochester, New York and New York City.
The gift will help establish the Walentas Scholars program, which is a merit-based scholarship for students who possess strong leadership skills. It will be funded by $50 million of Walentas’ donation and an additional $20 million from the university’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund.
“Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who had been to college but I knew that it was a way out of poverty and a path to opportunity,” Walentas said in a statement. “Thanks to a scholarship, I was the first in my family to attend college and my time at UVA completely changed my life. There are so many talented young people in this country in places like New York City and Rochester, where I grew up, who can help make our society a better place if given the opportunity. I can’t wait to see how these first-generation college students change the world.”