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About the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. Leadership Award

In 1994, Former U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. established the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. Leadership Award Program. Senator Byrd established this leadership award program because of his deep conviction that a strong system of public education is essential to democratic government, and that cultivating leadership among young citizens advances both education and government. It is Senator Byrd’s hope that this award will accomplish the following:

  • Create a desire for excellence among students;
  • Enhance student self-assurance by the Selection Committee’s vote of confidence; and
  • Provide recognition and financial assistance to students with outstanding leadership qualities.
The first awards were made in the Spring of 1995. Each award winner – one from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts – receives $15,000. Although it is Senator Byrd’s hope that these talented young people will choose to remain in the Commonwealth for their higher education, this is not a requirement, and there is no restriction on the use of the award. To date, there have been 275 recipients of the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. Leadership Award. The University of Virginia Foundation administers the Trust.

For the first 15 years, the Award Selection Committee Chairman was Harry L. Carrico, Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. In 2009, current Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons of the Supreme Court of Virginia succeeded Chief Justice Carrico as the Chairman of the Award Selection Committee.