By William Cocke, firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Virginia alumnus Ramon W. Breeden Jr. has given $50 million to support the future of business education and athletics at the University, to be evenly divided between funding for the McIntire Expansion Project and the Virginia Athletics Master Plan.
When combined with $25 million in matching funds for the McIntire project, the gift will have a total impact of $75 million. Breeden, a Virginia Beach, VA-based developer, is a 1956 graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce.
UVA President Jim Ryan announced the gift during the Friday meeting of the Board of Visitors.
“I am deeply grateful for Ray’s far-reaching investment in our athletics facilities and McIntire’s growing presence on Grounds,” Ryan says. “Our student-athletes and commerce students, among others, will have terrific new spaces in which to practice and learn for many years to come.”
The nature of the gift—support for the student experience at UVA—will provide crucial momentum to the University’s $5 billion Honor the Future campaign and underscore goals in the President’s 2030 Strategic Plan. Pending approval from the Board of Visitors, spaces contained within the Commerce School and the new athletics complex will be named for Breeden.
“UVA is the heart and soul of my education. It was truly the pinnacle of my education,” Breeden says. “The McIntire School prepared me to go toe-to-toe with Ivy League graduates. UVA’s business school didn’t just teach me about business practices, the school also taught me to have the confidence to speak. I learned how to be actionable in business because of my time at McIntire.”
“In addition,” he continued, “I am an avid fan of many sports and believe they play a crucial role in teaching and promoting camaraderie.”
The McIntire Expansion Project is a complete reimagining of the Commerce School’s physical footprint, with renovations to interior and exterior spaces and the construction of a new building, Shumway Hall, on the southeast corner of UVA’s historic Lawn. The growing complex will also include the grounds surrounding McIntire’s current home; a renovated Cobb Hall; and a host of outdoor meeting areas, expanded walkways, and green spaces.
Construction of Shumway Hall is well underway, with the opening projected for February 2025. The transformation of the adjacent 106-year-old Cobb Hall includes the completion of its portico and the ongoing installation of the historic building’s new slate roofing. At completion, Cobb Hall will contain two new classrooms, a double-height solarium, several group study rooms, additional staff offices, and numerous seating areas.
“Mr. Breeden’s unwavering devotion to the success of tomorrow’s business leaders is a powerful catalyst for the future of the McIntire School at a critical moment,” says Nicole Thorne Jenkins, the John A. Griffin Dean. “We are thrilled to be able to create and refine dynamic spaces on Grounds where students can develop and hone their business acumen, grow their personal and professional networks, and make plans to accomplish great things through commerce.”
McIntire Associate Dean for Advancement Katie Whittier notes that Breeden’s loyalty to the Commerce School has always been evident, demonstrated through his steadfast dedication to enhancing the student experience: “From guest lecturing in the classroom and hosting McIntire community events, to his support for our greatest needs over the years, Mr. Breeden has been always been generous with his time, talent, and treasure.”
Through his relationships with McIntire colleagues past and present, Whittier recalls how she and others have collaborated with Breeden to identify what was to become a shared vision for the future of the School. “Mr. Breeden’s significant engagement in the life of the McIntire community over many years led to this transformational moment. I look forward to our continued partnership and friendship. We are so grateful for this extraordinary gift.”
In addition to naming the Commerce School spaces, the Breeden gift also supports the Virginia Athletics Master Plan, which includes a Football Operations Center, an Olympic Sports Center to provide support to more than 750 student-athletes, and the Center for Citizen Leaders and Sports Ethics. It will also include three natural-grass practice fields, a pedestrian promenade, and the renovation of the McCue Center.
“The Virginia Athletics Master Plan will redefine how UVA educates student-athletes,” says Carla Williams, UVA Athletics Director and Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. “Ray’s transformative gift helps us accomplish our mission to provide world-class facilities and support for our students as they study to achieve academic excellence, develop the necessary skills to become citizen leaders for tomorrow, and train to compete for championships. He truly understands what it takes to provide the very best accommodations for our students.”
Breeden is Chairman of the Board of The Breeden Company, a national developer of multifamily and commercial projects. Additionally, the company has built and managed several resort timeshare hotels.
He began his career in single-family home construction and soon progressed to multifamily and commercial developments. He founded The Breeden Company in 1961. Before that, he held various positions in real estate sales and mortgage financing.
After he received his Bachelor of Science from the McIntire School, his postgraduate studies in business took place at the University of Richmond. His son, C. Torrey Breeden, Executive Vice President of The Breeden Company, graduated from the McIntire School in 1997.
Breeden served as a member of the McIntire Foundation Board from 1994 to 1996. Prior to that, he served on the McIntire Advisory Board for several years. He has also served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Real Estate Graduate School of Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Breeden is a Founder and former member of the board of directors of Commerce Bank in Virginia Beach, which was purchased by Branch Bank & Trust, or BB&T, of Virginia. He also served as a state Director of BB&T of Virginia.
He has served as President of the Tidewater Builders Association, as well as the state and local Director of the Tidewater Association of Home Builders. He serves as a member of the board of directors for the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance and the Virginia Beach Education Foundation.
Breeden has held posts on the boards of several other nonprofit organizations. He is a significant supporter of various SPCAs and animal rescue organizations. He and The Breeden Company have been the presenting sponsor of the Neptune Festival’s Symphony By The Sea series in Virginia Beach since its inception in 2011.