The Batten Family
Jane and Frank Batten, Sr.
Jane Parke Batten, together with her late husband, Frank Batten, Sr., founder and retired chairman of Landmark Communications, has played a major role in redefining the cultural and educational landscape of the Commonwealth.
Jane Batten’s interest in Virginia Wesleyan was kindled when her daughter, Betsy, enrolled as a freshman in 1978. Mrs. Batten came on the Board of Trustees in 1981, served as Board Chair from 1995-1998, and became a Trustee Emerita in 2015. As chair, she molded and led a Board that was informed, focused, and challenged to move Virginia Wesleyan forward. Her role in the development and revitalization of the College reflects her high standard of service and commitment. The College presented Mrs. Batten with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2006.
Mrs. Batten is also active in a number of other civic endeavors. She sits on the Boards of E3: Elevate Early Education, the Slover Library Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. The CIVIC Leadership Institute presented her with the 2014 Darden Award for Regional Leadership, and in 2013 she was named one of the Most Influential Virginians by Virginia Business. The Norfolk Cosmopolitan Club declared Mrs. Batten as Norfolk’s First Citizen and gave her the Cosmopolitan Distinguished Service Award Medal in 2010, an honor also bestowed upon her husband in 1966.
The Batten Educational Achievement Fund was created in 2003 to improve scholastic opportunities in Southeastern Virginia. The fund led to the formation of the New E3 School in Norfolk, which teaches children ages 1 to 5 a specialized STEAM curriculum—science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Mrs. Batten’s interest in the environment and environmental studies prompted her support of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Center, the most sustainable building in Virginia and among the greenest in the world. Slover Library, one of the most innovative public libraries in the country, was made possible by gifts from Frank Batten, Sr., and the Batten Foundation. The library preserves the memory of former Norfolk Mayor Col. Samuel Slover, the uncle of Frank Batten, Sr.
The Battens have a long history of generous support for higher education institutions in Virginia. In addition to Mrs. Batten’s service to the Virginia Wesleyan Board of Trustees, Frank Batten served as the first rector of Old Dominion University and on the boards of the College of William and Mary and Hollins University. He was also the Vice Chairman of the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia. Some of the Battens’ most notable gifts have gone to Harvard Business School, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, and Culver Academies in Indiana (Frank Batten’s alma mater). In 2007, the family made the largest gift in school history to the University of Virginia to establish the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
The Jane P. Batten Student Center at Virginia Wesleyan is named for Mrs. Batten. The lead gift for the building, one of the largest in the College’s history, was given by Frank Batten, Sr., in honor of his wife’s service to the College. Completed in 2002, the 137,000-square-foot building is the heartbeat of the campus—a gathering spot and dynamic learning environment for students, faculty, staff and the greater community. Mrs. Batten made a lead gift in 2003 to the Key to the Future Campaign, which has funded a number of significant endowments at the College, among them the Batten Professorship. The Frank and Jane P. Batten Distinguished Scholar Award has recognized scholarship achievements among faculty since 2004, and the Jane and Frank Batten Endowed Scholarships, a series of academic scholarships that provide full tuition, are among the most prestigious awards at Wesleyan. The family’s leadership continues to assure Virginia Wesleyan’s place among the top private liberal arts colleges in the country.
Mrs. Batten attended Hollins University in Roanoke and is a resident of Virginia Beach. She and her late husband have three children, Dorothy, Betsy, and Frank, Jr.