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Frank Batten, founder of Landmark Communications and Old Dominion University's first rector, was presented the university's inaugural Founders' Award at the annual Founders' Day Dinner Oct. 14.

President Roseann Runte presented the award, which recognizes outstanding commitment, generosity and service to Old Dominion from its founding to the present day.

"Success requires making the most of opportunity and overcoming challenges," she said. "It is those that have mastered that delicate balance who become leaders and who leave legacies that make our world a better place."

"I have the pleasure of presenting the first Old Dominion Founders' Award to a man whose name is synonymous with Old Dominion University. His philanthropy and generosity are unmatched at Old Dominion. Were it not for him, and his family, our campus and our future would look quite different."

Batten's long relationship with Old Dominion began in 1955 when he served as a member of the Advisory Board to the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary. Over the next few years, as the Norfolk Division campaigned to become an independent college, Batten served as a tireless advocate and promoter of the school. In 1962, he became the first rector of the Board of Visitors of the newly independent Old Dominion College. In June 1972, the university's Batten Arts and Letters Building was dedicated in his honor. Batten's son, Frank Jr., also served as rector.

Batten's financial support to Old Dominion has earned him the distinction as the university's most significant and enduring contributor. His influence has extended beyond the generosity of his immediate family, including his wife, Jane, and three children. In 1995, Old Dominion initiated the Batten Award to recognize and encourage others who, like the Batten family, have demonstrated outstanding charitable support to the university and whose philanthropic leadership encourages others to support the university.

After receiving a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Harvard University, Batten began his professional career in the 1950s when he went to work for his uncle's two local newspapers, The Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Dispatch. Later he acquired a controlling interest in the newspapers. He built them into Landmark Communications Inc., a Norfolk-based, privately held media company with national and international interests in newspapers, broadcasting, cable programming and electronic publishing. In 1998, Batten passed control of Landmark to his son and currently serves as chairman of the board's Executive Committee.

This article was posted on: October 15, 2004

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