New Thornton Society Levels Announced!

New Thornton Society Levels Announced – Letter From UVA Engineering Alumna Kathryn Harris (Aero ’02)

This Fall, new Thornton Society levels were announced – thanks to a great letter from UVA Engineering alumna Kathryn Harris (Aero ’02).   We hope you’ll join us in the Thornton Society to provide support for high-impact experiential programs that can launch new careers or new industries; projects in the Lacy Design Lab where students can develop the “next big thing”; and the rapid response funding for Faculty members that only the flexibility of the annual fund can provide.  Read Kathryn’s letter below; watch your mailboxes for a copy of the letter and the new Thornton Society brochure.

 Click HERE to read more about the new levels and their impact and to make your gift.


December 2016

Dear Alumni, Parents & Friends:

I was back on Grounds this fall for a tour of the Engineering School.  I had a chance to see students building electric guitars in the Mechatronics Lab, reviewing problem sets on their laptops in Wilsdorf Hall Cafe and learning signal processing in the new National Instruments Engineering Discovery Lab. They were fully engaged in their work and having fun. The tour made me proud and confident that the School is heading in the right direction. To be honest, it also made me a bit jealous. By the end of the tour, I was ready to re-enroll as a first year!

The current student experience is similar to what I remember – the technical expertise excellence, student self-governance, and a deep desire to make a difference in their communities and the world. Seeing the students carry on this legacy made it easy for me to reconnect as an alumna. What’s new is the focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and research spanning across departments and even with other UVA Schools in fields like cyber-physical systems, biomedical data science, and cybersecurity. Today’s students have access to technology and modern labs that can turn their great ideas into the ‘next big thing’ and deliver great value to society.  They are learning directly from leading scholars and then applying this knowledge to solve meaningful, real-world problems. It’s the meeting of these two worlds – the commitment to core values and the modern focus on research with impact – that makes this such an exciting time to be a part of the UVA Engineering community.

The technical and leadership skills I gained as an undergrad have carried me throughout my career. Beyond the pride that comes from being a UVA Engineer, I developed a confidence to face problems head-on—no matter their scale or complexity. When I think of all the amazing challenges and opportunities our students will encounter, I want to make sure that they can take full advantage of their UVA Engineering experience. That’s why I recently made an investment in the School – and our future leaders – by donating to Annual Fund.  

Working at the Department of Defense, I see the critical needs for technology and innovation in the public and private sector every day. I am confident that UVA Engineers will deliver the solutions to advance our nation and world.  This is why I decided to join the Thornton Society.  There are new levels, from Young Leaders to the Dean’s Circle, to recognize your commitment and help shape the future of UVA Engineering.  I encourage you to review the enclosed brochure and join us at the level that makes sense for you. After you join, I also encourage you to come back to Grounds and tour the Engineering School as I did – I am confident you will be as excited and impressed as I have been.

Our support is vital to the continued growth and impact of UVA Engineering.  I hope you’ll join me in the Thornton Society.


Thank you,

Kathryn Harris

School of Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, 2002

Member, UVA Engineering Board of Trustees


P.S.  You can make your gift online at  While you’re online, check out the next generation of leaders and discoveries being made at UVA Engineering.


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