The Darden School of Business Community was saddened today to learn that Frank Batten, Sr., retired chairman of Landmark Communications, now Landmark Media Enterprises, died this morning in Norfolk. He was 82.
Mr. Batten was an entrepreneurial thinker who supported many educational initiatives. An extremely loyal University of Virginia supporter, he gave the Darden School $60 million in 1999 to create the Batten Institute, which promotes entrepreneurial leadership and innovation. In 2007, he gave UVa. the largest gift in its history, $100 million, to establish the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He financially supported several organizations, schools, and causes in addition to his support for Darden and UVa.
"Mr. Batten was an inspiring figure, who not only was our benefactor, but a guiding light in our endeavors,” said Mike Lenox, executive director of the Batten Institute. “He was a man of great intelligence and great integrity. He believed strongly that entrepreneurship and innovation were important for economic growth, and more broadly, for the advancement of society.”
The Batten Institute is honoring Mr. Batten at the Batten-Institute.
Professor Emeritus C. Ray Smith, who served Darden for decades as a professor, dean of the School, and executive director of the Darden School Foundation said Mr. Batten will always be remembered at the University of Virginia.
"In my dealings with him, he was always straight forward in his words and actions,” Smith said. “He didn't beat around the bush. He was a real gentleman in the best sense of the word and a person with the highest degree of integrity. The University has lost one of our best friends but his memory will live on because of what he has created here."
Dean Bob Bruner knew Mr. Batten well. Prior to taking on the role of dean, Bruner served as the executive director of the Batten Institute. Unfortunately, Dean Bruner was traveling and could not be reached for comment this afternoon.
Mr. Batten was an innovator and leader in the media profession. He went from errand boy to publisher of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk. He launched the Weather Channel and Weather.com. His company owned daily and non-daily newspapers, television stations, and other media outlets. At its height, his organization employed over 10,000 people and annual revenues approached $2 billion.
Mr. Batten graduated from Culver Military Academy in Indiana. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1950 and his MBA from Harvard in 1952.
He is survived by his wife, Jane, and three children. Two of his children are alumni of the Darden School: Frank Jr, (MBA ‘84) and Dorothy (MBA ’90).
Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business improves society be developing leaders in the world of practical affairs.
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