in Washington, D.C., has announced that it has been given , an estate in Warrenton, Virginia, that has hosted civil rights leaders, heads of state, and diplomats for more than half a century.
Valued at $15 million, the gift includes historic Airlie House and guest rooms and meeting facilities set on more than three hundred acres. One of the first conference facilities of its kind in the country, Airlie has hosted dialogues and programs dedicated to social progress, education, environmental research, and public health and was the site, in 1962, for the 's first annual conference; Sen. Gaylord Nelson's (D-WI) Earth Day concept announcement in 1969; significant gatherings related to peace agreements in Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia; and groundbreaking migration studies that resulted in restoration programs for endangered whooping cranes and other species.
The Airlie board initially had sought to sell the property, but the center's environmental stewardship mission and their desire to have some say over the future use of the land led them to make the gift to AU, a university official involved in the transaction told the . The property could be used to expand AU's sustainability efforts, classes or field studies, or a leadership institute, said AU spokesperson Camille Lepre. In 2015, AU pledged to be carbon neutral by 2020.
"We are delighted that the pioneering vision of Airlie's founder, Dr. Murdock Head, will live on under American University's stewardship," said Airlie board president Suzanne Hayden. "AU's commitment to Airlie's founding ideals of the open exchange of ideas that can effect positive change and to responsible land stewardship through conservation and sustainable practices will ensure a bright and exciting future for this historic place."