Merit scholars buy disgraced frat house

Merit scholars buy disgraced frat house

The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, a non-profit organization best known for holding the purse strings of UVA’s prestigious Jefferson Scholarship, has purchased the former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house near Scott Stadium, a property currently assessed at $1,036,700. According to Foundation President James Wright, the current plan is to build a graduate fellowship center and to house corporate offices on the newly purchased property.

The purchase comes after several months of Foundation efforts to acquire a new facility. Arthur Lichtenberger, president of the Lewis Mountain Neighborhood Association, says the Foundation owned property next to Alumni Hall and wanted to construct a new three-story, 10,000-square-foot building on that site in 2006. “While our neighborhood appreciates the quality of the Jefferson Scholars program, we strongly opposed it being put in our neighborhood,” Lichtenberger says. The Foundation eventually decided to pull its application, “most likely due to neighborhood opposition,” says Lichtenberger.

Hopefully the Jefferson Scholars won’t suffer the ignominious fall from grace suffered by the former tenants of this building: Beta Theta Pi lost their charter after an alcohol violation.

As it turns out, Lewis Mountain’s rejection wasn’t the end of the road in the Foundation’s search for a new home: That conclusion would instead lie a few blocks south, on a 1.6-acre lot at 124 Maury Ave. “Beta” lost its University charter in 2005 after violating certain General Fraternity regulations, notably those concerning alcohol intoxication. Wright says it’s too soon to tell what the ultimate plans will be for the well-weathered, 12-bedroom ex-frat.

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Over $130 million in endowments now provides an impressive majority of financial support for the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. Undergraduate scholarship winners are awarded a full four years tuition at the University as well as ongoing leadership, travel and internship opportunities. A graduate fellowship is also funded by the Foundation.

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