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Mr. Monticello, Dan Jordan, to exit

by Lisa Provence
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Perhaps no man since a certain “Sage” has one man been more closely associated with Monticello than longtime head Dan Jordan, but Jordan plans to say farewell next year. He has set November 1, 2008, as his departure date to give the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s board of trustees plenty of time to seat a successor.

Already renowned as a scholar before his 1985 appointment, Jordan proved himself a master power-broker as well. He built support for the concept of viewshed protection, garnered several million in federal funds for a new park and popular trail, and, in a $15 million stroke in early 2004, acquired Montalto, the only turf overlooking what Jefferson called his “Little Mountain.”

Jordan, 69, has also marked his tenure with sweeping changes including embracing and emphasizing the contributions of slaves and by acknowledging the 1998 revelation that one of them, Sally Hemings, probably bore several children by Jefferson.

Jordan took over an institution known only for venerating an icon. But by sponsoring extensive archaeology and original research and creating an multi-million-dollar endowment, he kept it so cool to talk TJ.

During his time, the Foundation added the the Jefferson Library as well as the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants. More recently, Jordan unveiled a bold plan to sweep away 20th century buildings from the mountaintop and create a new visitor center at the base of the mountain.

With 22 years as Monticello’s president, Jordan (who was named Outstanding Virginian last year) has met every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter. Through it all, he always embraced the third president’s controversies. “Jefferson was controversial,” he told the Hook in 2002. “That’s what makes him more interesting.”


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  • Sarah September 21st, 2007 | 7:56 pm

    Dr. Jordan has done a remarkable job during his tenure. Mr. Jefferson smiles at Dr. Jordan’s accomplishments. I will be forever grateful to him for preserving, protecting, and moving forward the most beautiful place in the world.




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