In memoriam: Thomas Farrell, Dominion Energy CEO and former VCU board member
The longtime Dominion leader served as a member of the VCU Board of Visitors and was a founding trustee of the College of Engineering.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao, Ph.D., is offering words of remembrance following the death of Dominion Energy CEO Thomas F. Farrell II late last week. The 66-year-old Farrell died April 2 after battling cancer, his passing coming one day after he stepped down as executive board chairman at Dominion.
Among the many titles and roles Farrell held during his more than 25 years at the energy giant — president, chief operating officer and CEO being the most notable — he also held many leadership roles in higher education, the arts and at civic institutions throughout Virginia during the past quarter century, serving on boards at VCU, the University of Virginia, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, among other prominent appointments.
“Tom’s service to VCU and the VCU Health System was transformative for the institution,” Rao said. “He was a trusted partner whose leadership helped advance the institution as one of Virginia’s top research universities. He also served as a trustee of the VCU School of Engineering Foundation and supported the university and health system in many strategic ways.
“Most of all, he was a friend and colleague, and a strong mentor. He was a great man of tremendous vision and his loss will be deeply felt by many in the Richmond area and beyond.”
Farrell was appointed to a four-year term on the VCU Board of Visitors by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2011, serving as chair of the board’s finance committee. Farrell was an early supporter of the VCU College of Engineering (then the School of Engineering), serving as a founding trustee of the school and presiding over large philanthropic donations from Dominion in 2007 as VCU was completing work on Snead Hall and Engineering East Hall. Under his leadership, Dominion donated more than $400 million to philanthropic causes.
Beyond academia and the arts (Farrell helped lead large renovations of both the Dominion Energy Center and Altria Theater), Farrell’s civic involvement included serving as co-chair of the UCI Road World Championships bicycle races held in Richmond in 2015. He also was a founding director of the Greater Washington Partnership, a nonprofit civic alliance of corporate leaders and entrepreneurs representing businesses from Baltimore to Richmond.
Farrell served on the board at the University of Virginia, his alma mater, from 2001 to 2009 and was the university’s rector from 2005 to 2007. He graduated from UVA in 1976 with a degree in economics and earned a law degree from the university in 1979. His son, Peter, a VCU School of Business graduate, is a current member of the VCU Board of Visitors.
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