Skip to main content

St. Elmo Hall Leadership Challenge Phase II

St. Elmo Hall Leadership Challenge

As you recall, the St. Elmo Hall Leadership Challenge was initially launched in the summer of 2013, in conjunction with our 105th Anniversary Reunion. The Alumni Board set a fund-raising goal of $500,000 for the following projects and programs:


                   St. Elmo Hall Renovations      $250,000

                   Jefferson Trust                           150,000

                   Rotunda Restoration                 100,000

                                                TOTAL      $500,000


As of June 30th of this year, we have raised close to $325,000, which represents almost two-thirds of our goal. Below is a summary of the objectives and rationale of the Campaign:


The St. Elmo Hall renovations consist primarily of an extensive remodeling of the kitchen, adjacent bathroom and storage rooms. This project, which was largely completed last fall, also entailed converting our Meal Plan from a vendor delivery-based system to a resident chef system, which existed at the House until the mid 2000’s. By restoring the chef-prepared, sit-down food service, we again have an environment where the members gather for meals, thereby creating a greater sense of brotherhood. While our efforts might be regarded as trying to “turn back the clock”, I think most alumni would look back at the mealtime experience as being very important in the building of friendships and establishing a strong, unified brotherhood. The new meal service is managed by Elmo alumnus Harrison Keevil ’05, who is the chef-owner of the Brookville Restaurant, a popular establishment located on the Downtown Mall. “Chef Eric” is the on-site cook, and works closely with the undergraduate members in setting menus. The members agree that the changes have had a positive impact on the culture of the House, and also found that having a new kitchen and resident chef was a strong selling point during RUSH this past year.

In addition to the kitchen, the dining area, bar and storage rooms were refurbished, a second bathroom was added, and a 60” TV was installed near the bar. These additions have made the downstairs a more attractive and practical venue not only for meals, but for other social functions as well, thus sparing the Main Floor from excessive wear and tear. And further improvements are planned for the double glass doors and outside stairwell. This area is the primary entry and exit point during parties, and needs to be made safer and more secure. This is consistent with the increased emphasis on student safety, which over the past year has become a top priority of the University administration.



JEFFERSON TRUST: The other half of our overall goal of $500,000 is for two important initiatives of the University. We made an initial donation of $150,000 to the Jefferson Trust as part of our Centennial Celebration in 2008. Very briefly, the Jefferson Trust, which was founded in 2004, is an unrestricted endowment administered by the Alumni Association. The Trust makes grants to groups and programs around the University, which because of budgetary constraints don’t get the funding they deserve. Last year the Trust gave out grants totaling almost $650,000 from an endowment of about $23 Million, and they hope to increase these numbers by 50% over the next few years. With our initial donation almost seven years ago, Elmo earned a seat on the Jefferson Trust’s Board of Trustees until 2015, and longtime Alumni Director Phil Nesmith has ably filled this position. With our additional commitment of $150,000, our trusteeship becomes permanent, a worthwhile objective given the prominence on Grounds that the Trust has achieved. St. Elmo Hall continues to be the only fraternity to support this important initiative.

For more information, please go to

ROTUNDA RESTORATION:   The third objective of our Campaign is raising $100,000 for the Rotunda Restoration, which is currently the highest visibility and single most important capital priority at the University. The cost of the project is just over $50 Million, with the Commonwealth paying about $27 Million. The balance is expected to come from various private sources, including $20 Million from a group of 200 donors being called the “U200”. Each of these donors, who will be recognized on a permanent plaque in the Rotunda, is committing $100,000 or more to the project, payable over five years. This project has resonated with alumni and friends of the University, and is nearing its funding goal. As with the Jefferson Trust, St. Elmo Hall is the only fraternity to give its support, although the University hopes that our leadership will inspire donations from other houses. As Historic Preservation Project Manager at the University, Elmo Alumni Director James Zehmer ’02 has given us an insider’s perspective, and his important role has added a more “personal” element to our commitment.

For more information, please go to


The Board of Directors of the St. Elmo Club of UVA greatly appreciates the generosity of the more than 100 alumni who have contributed to the St. Elmo Hall Leadership Challenge to date. Your gifts are directly benefiting St. Elmo by enabling us to make substantial and badly needed improvements to the basement level of our historic house, with the focal point being the renovation of the kitchen. The transformation of our meal service is having a positive effect on the culture of the House, and the overall upgrade of the entire space will enhance safety and security while hopefully reducing “traffic” on the Main Floor.

Regarding our support for the University initiatives, our commitments to the Jefferson Trust and Rotunda Restoration directly help the University, but also provide an indirect benefit to St. Elmo Hall. We have a well-known tradition of philanthropy at UVA, and Elmos have undoubtedly been among the most generous contributors for generations. Probably the most prominent example of this is the St. Elmo Jefferson Scholars Fund, which was established over 25 years ago with $250,000 and which has grown to more than $1,000,000. Along the way the Scholarship has funded the UVA education of many outstanding young men and women. Our longtime reputation for philanthropy has served us well, and has helped St. Elmo earn and retain its pre-eminent standing on Grounds. Our support of the Jefferson Trust and Rotunda Restoration continues this tradition. And as the unfortunate events of last year clearly demonstrate, fraternities at UVA – and elsewhere – are under much greater scrutiny and pressure to reduce the incidence of objectionable activities and destructive behavior. In this changing environment, the University is looking to a handful of elite fraternities to provide leadership for the entire Greek system. St. Elmo Hall, by virtue of its strong undergraduate membership as well as the loyalty and generosity of its alumni, will continue to be one of them.


The Alumni Board is encouraged by the total amount that has been raised so far, but judging from the enthusiasm for our 5 Year Reunion events, we were expecting broader participation. Of the over 800 living Elmo alumni, less than 15% have contributed to the St. Elmo Hall Leadership Challenge, and most of them graduated before 1990. We encourage our more recent graduates – those from the past 25 years – to continue the longstanding tradition of providing support for the House and Elmo initiatives. With the goal of meeting our original target of $500,000, the Elmo Board is making a renewed effort to reach out to all our alumni, and is now launching Phase Two of the St. Elmo Hall Leadership Challenge. We are asking all of you who have not yet contributed to make a gift or pledge, and to help us fulfill the worthy objectives of the Campaign. Unlike many other organizations, we do not have an Annual Giving program, and throughout our long history fundraising efforts have been infrequent. Barring an emergency, St. Elmo will not need to raise funds in the foreseeable future, and certainly not before our 115th Reunion in 2023. Our financial position is sound, and with the guidance of Hal Rodriguez, Al Rider and John Lillard, the members of the Alumni Board have been capable stewards of St. Elmo’s financial resources. We undertook this Campaign because we believe that raising funds from our alumni for the kitchen renovation and to support vital capital initiatives of the University were important to both the current members, and to reinforce our traditional leadership position on Grounds. From a financial perspective, the Board believes it was prudent to fund these commitments through our first capital campaign in almost ten years, rather than by making a substantial withdrawal from the Capital Fund.



Although we hope that Elmos from all eras will respond favorably to the Campaign, we realize that the composition of our alumni body has changed, and that we need to expand our donor base in the hope that more of our younger alumni will begin to take a leadership role. With this goal in mind, we are going to give special attention to Elmos who graduated (or will graduate) from the classes of 2001 through 2016, and will refer to this as the Young Alumni Campaign. This group comprises over a quarter of all Elmo alumni,and has played an important role over the past fifteen years in the strengthening of our reputation on Grounds. Most of these young alumni have benefited from the extensive improvements to the House that have been made over the past decade, which for the most part were made possible through the generosity of many of our older graduates. Since it is unlikely that St. Elmo will need to raise money again in the next ten years, we are hoping that the “Young Alumni” will take this opportunity to support St. Elmo financially. We are asking them to help fulfill the goals of the St. Elmo Hall Leadership Challenge by making a modest pledge or gift, with a breakdown of suggested contributions as follows:

Classes from 2001 thru 2006 $750
Classes from 2007 thru 2011 $500
Classes from 2012 thru 2016 $300

Young Alumni donors may choose to make their payments using automatic monthly credit card debits over a twenty five month period, ending in late 2017. The monthly payments would be $30 for the classes from 2001-2006, $20 (2007-2011) and $12 (2012-2016). Automatic credit card payment can also be used for larger gifts. In order to avoid running into the University’s Third Century Campaign, we are hoping that all pledges will be completed by the end of 2017.


Young Alumni from 2001-2016 who contribute at the suggested levels or more will be recognized as “New Century Contributors” on a plaque to be hung in the Elmo House. Contributions from alumni who graduated before 2001 will be recognized separately at two levels: $2000 and $5000.


Donations can be made on the St. Elmo Hall website with secure credit card payment, or by mail using the Gift/Pledge card and return envelope that was sent with the current Elmo Newsletter. Contributions should be made to the UVA FUND – ST. ELMO HALL LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE.  Pledge payments can be made in as many as three installments beginning this calendar year and ending December 31, 2017. Payments can also be made by automatic monthly credit card debit. The Alumni Association will assist the Campaign with pledge and donation collections, record keeping, disbursements and investments with the UVA FUND. Based on our goal of raising $500,000, all donations up to that amount will be apportioned as follows:

  • St. Elmo Hall     50%      ($250,000)
  • Jefferson Trust     30%     ($150,000)
  • Rotunda Restoration     20%     ($100,000)

If total pledges exceed our goal, the amount in excess of $500K will be divided equally between the St. Elmo Hall Capital Fund and the St. Elmo Hall-William V. Daniel Educational Fund, which is a section 501-c fund established in 2010 after Bill’s passing. The Fund is intended to support improvements and expenses related to dedicated educational areas of the House, such as the Library. Our commitment to the Jefferson Trust and Rotunda Restoration will be capped at $150,000 and $100,000 respectively.

Because direct donations to the two University initiatives are tax deductible, along with the WVD Educational Fund, it follows that pledges to the St. Elmo Hall Leadership Challenge would be 50% deductible, although donors should consult their tax advisor.  In addition, gifts count toward overall giving to the University, including Annual and Reunion Giving, as well as Rotunda Society recognition.

Support St. Elmo

Learn more about the variety of ways you can support St. Elmo below.

Online Giving and Pledges

Make an online gift or pledge now by using our secure donation form:

Donate or pledge online now


Make the check out to the ‘account name’ selected below and add the ‘allocation number’ in the memo.

Elmo accounts

Mail your check to:

UVA Fund Gift Processing Services
PO BOX 400314
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4314

Drop your check off to:

University of Virginia Alumni Association
UVA Fund Gift Processing Services
211 Emmet St South
Charlottesville, VA 22903


Make a gift over the phone by calling UVA Fund Gift Processing Services at 434-243-9060.

Stock and Wire/ACH Transfer

Gifts of stocks or mutual funds can be sent electronically through your broker.

Stock and Wire/ACH Transfer Instructions

Additional Information

If you have questions, please use the UVA Fund FreshDesk or visit the UVA Fund web page for more information.

More Giving Information