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Powerof Personal Philanthropy Fall/Winter 2013

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Powerof Personal Philanthropy Fall/Winter 2013

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Inside this issue 5 Department chair inspires facultywide giving 6 Alumni sink teeth into contest, raise record funds 8 Radio host bequeaths rare gifts to VCU Libraries 9 VMI alumni join forces for VCU medical students 10 Universal Corp. funds endowed chair at Massey 11 Pathways donors now locate their bricks online 12 Young alumnus, student believes in giving back 13 Donors give new teachers incentive to stay local 14 VCU leads $62 million study of TBIs in military 15 Brandcenter scholarship helps to honor a legacy

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On the cover

The Monroe Scholars Book Award Program showcases VCU to outstanding local high school students while also recognizing them for their hard work and efforts. Editor: Melanie Irvin Seiler (B.S. ’96), miseiler@vcu.edu, (804) 828-3975 Writer: Nan Johnson, nljohnson@vcu.edu

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Ken Thomas (left), past president of VCU Alumni, and Robert A. Almond congratulate one of the newest Monroe Scholars, Kia Jordan.

Monroe Scholars program writes new chapter As a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University Alumni Association board of directors in 2009, Robert A. Almond (B.S. ’74; M.Ed. ’85) had an idea to recognize outstanding local high school students while simultaneously promoting VCU as a university of choice. The concept was simple: Award books and recognition certificates to top high school juniors as identified by their faculty and peers and provide them with campus visits to VCU in their senior year. If the students applied to VCU and were accepted, they would receive $1,000 scholarships from VCU Alumni. Almond’s lead gift in 2010 established the scholarship, and the Monroe Scholars Book Award Program was born. What began in the city of Richmond, Va., now involves high schools in nine surrounding counties and an annual luncheon to raise funds and awareness. The basis for the program, explained Ken Thomas (B.S. ’91), immediate past president of VCU Alumni, is to showcase VCU to promising students and to recognize them for their efforts in the process. “The Monroe Scholars Book Award exposes VCU to those who may not be thinking about it. The program is also a way to bridge VCU Alumni to future alumni. Bob Almond really stepped up to the plate when he proposed the idea four years ago, and we’re so happy with the results,” Thomas said. “Today, we invite more than 30 high schools to participate through student nominations.” For Kia Jordan, a 2012-13 Monroe Scholar from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, the experience clinched the deal for VCU. “I had been thinking about VCU, but it pushed me more to want to attend,” she said. “I was ecstatic! As a Richmonder, I didn’t really appreciate all that the VCU community had to offer. I was so anxious to leave the city without understanding that the place I needed to be was 10 minutes from my house.” Jordan learned about VCU through the dual-enrollment program with the Governor’s School and credits her VCU mentor Kimberly Guthrie (B.F.A. ’89; M.A.E. ’98), interim assistant chair and associate professor in VCU’s Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising, who is now her academic adviser, for putting her on the

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path toward an education in fashion. Thanks to Guthrie’s encouragement, Jordan is studying fashion merchandising as a member of the VCU Class of 2017. For Almond, the Monroe Scholars Program gives alumni nationwide an outlet for promoting their alma mater. “I appreciated my education at VCU and wanted to share that enthusiasm with future students. I don’t think the kids in the Richmond area are fully aware of all that VCU offers,” he said. “It’s an unsung hero in the community and a very well-kept secret. It’s a young school and I don’t think people realize that we have one of the oldest schools of social work in the country or that VCU School of the Arts is ranked the No. 1 public university [graduate] arts and design program. “I’d like to see that secret opened up and exposed to more people. That’s what the Monroe Scholars program is designed to do. It’s a wonderful service project for any alumni chapter.” For the past three years, the Monroe Scholars Book and Author Luncheon has helped spread the secret about the wealth of educational, academic and research opportunities offered at VCU by serving as a fundraising event for the scholarships and book awards. The 2010 inaugural luncheon and book-signing event featured VCU alumnus and best-selling author David Baldacci (B.A. ’83; H.L.D. ’01). Authors Phyllis Theroux and William Bass, Ph.D., have been featured in subsequent years. “The Monroe Scholars Book Award Program is an example of something that started small and grew into a major recruitment tool,” Almond said. Thomas agreed. “We’ve developed a template that can be replicated anywhere. It’s a model for success and awareness. More importantly, the students who come to us as Monroe Scholars help enrich our entire community.” To learn more about the Monroe Scholars Book Award Program, contact Diane C. Stout-Brown (B.S.W. ’80), senior director, VCU Alumni, at (804) 828-7020 or dstout@vcu.edu.

The Monroe Scholars Book and Author Luncheon features best-selling authors, such as VCU alumnus David Baldacci, to help spread the word about the wealth of opportunities available at the university.

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Brandcenter scholarship helps to honor a legacy Every March 26 since 2003, Sharon Fuller has marked the birthday of her late husband, Mark Fuller (B.F.A. ’72), with a contribution to help budding art directors at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter. Her two daughters, Emma and Julie (B.A. ’06), have done the same. It’s not that the Fullers are art directors themselves, though Sharon is a graphic designer with a rich and varied background in retail advertising and library marketing, but the three share a connection with the Brandcenter from its early days as the VCU Adcenter. In the late 1970s and ’80s, when Richmond, Va., became known as a leading source of advertising creativity, Mark’s work was credited with generating much of the buzz, said Peter Boisseau, a friend and First-year Brandcenter student Karlin Lichtenberger (left), recipient of the 2012 Mark Fuller Scholarship, feels thankful colleague. to be connected to Sharon Fuller and her family. After Mark’s death in 2000, Boisseau and colleagues Cabell Harris (B.F.A. ’82), Ed Jones (B.F.A. ’70) and Carolyn Tye McGeorge (B.F.A. ’81) found themselves planning a way to remember him. “When Mark passed, there were a lot of people with the notion to do something to honor him and his memory,” Boisseau said. “Through the Richmond Ad Club, the four of us served as a committee and decided to create a scholarship for his daughters.” Though greatly touched by the tremendous generosity shown by their father’s friends and peers, Emma and Julie suggested that the funds instead be used to create a scholarship at the VCU Adcenter to help carry on their father’s legacy as that of a caring mentor to young creatives in the industry. Their mother agreed. “It was a family decision to honor him this way,” Sharon said. “One of the things Mark really loved to do was work with new creative talent. He was a great mentor.” The Mark Fuller Scholarship provides between $500 and $1,000 annually to meritorious first-year Brandcenter students pursuing art direction. The 2012 recipient was Karlin Lichtenberger (B.S. ’11) of Chester, Va. “I’m so thankful that a financial burden has been lifted,” she said. “I’m also extremely thankful to be connected to such a wonderful family and legacy.” Brandcenter Director Helayne Spivak appreciates those who have contributed. “Mark’s friends and family established the scholarship in his honor, understanding that giving back to his school and contributing to the future of the industry he loved was what he was about,” she said. “It is our honor to make the annual award in his name.” To learn more about the Brandcenter, contact Hawley Smyth (B.F.A. ’05), admissions coordinator, at (804) 827-8878 or smythh@vcu.edu. Fall/Winter 2013 | 5


Gifts made by faculty members in the School of Allied Health Professions’ Department of Nurse Anesthesia endow scholarships or other funds that help advance the nurse anesthesia specialty.

Department chair inspires facultywide giving For faculty in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Nurse Anesthesia, giving back is second nature — every faculty member in the department has endowed a scholarship or other fund through personal giving. The generous facultywide philanthropy supports the department’s mission to advance the nurse anesthesia specialty through research, scholarship and public service. “We attribute our establishment of endowments to the dynamic, visionary and caring nature of our dedicated chairperson, Michael D. Fallacaro,” said Suzanne Wright, Ph.D., CRNA (B.S. ’87; B.S. ’97; M.S.N.A. ’02; Ph.D. ’09), vice chair of academic affairs, director of doctoral education and director of the Center for Research in Human Simulation in the School of Allied Health Professions’ Department of Nurse Anesthesia. “He has created an environment that fosters giving, yet he has never mandated or even suggested we each create an endowment. In his everyday work, his message is clear, ‘Be relentless in your efforts to make this department, school and university a better place.’ He set the example by creating his own endowment.” Endowments come in many forms. For example,  endowed scholarships benefit students based on criteria established by a donor. Endowed lectureships,

Endowments established by nurse anesthesia faculty • Chuck Biddle Nurse Anesthesia Fund • Family Education and Wellness Fund established by Nickie Damico • Dr. Thomas Corey Davis Scholarship • Dr. Michael D. Fallacaro Patient Safety Scholarship Fund • Christian R. Falyar Endowment for the Advancement of Regional Anesthesia • Beverly George-Gay Scholarship Fund • Dr. William Hartland Jr. Fund • Elizabeth Glenn Howell Nurse Anesthesia Anatomy Camps, Workshops and Student Laboratory Fund • Lemont “Monty” B. Kier Nurse Anesthesia Fund • Dr. Suzanne Wright Diversity Fund

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professorships and chairs are used to support distinguished teachers and researchers in strategic areas of the university’s curriculum. All endowments are created with a minimum gift of $10,000. The principal of the gift is invested and a portion of the earnings, usually 5 percent, is paid out annually.  These named endowments last in perpetuity and help sustain academic quality by providing a guaranteed, neverending source of financial support.  “This is a monumental achievement,” said Cecil B. Drain, Ph.D., CRNA, FAAN, FASAHP, dean of VCU’s School of Allied Health Professions. “It’s one of the reasons our nurse anesthesia program continues to be recognized as the best in the country.” The group was recognized at an April 2013 ceremony where Fallacaro, D.N.S., CRNA, was invested as the inaugural Herbert T. Watson Endowed Professor in the Department of Nurse Anesthesia. Col. Herbert T. Watson, professor emeritus and past chair of the department, also was recognized for his significant contributions to VCU and to the profession. His gift created the first individually endowed professorship in the department and the first of its kind in the nurse anesthesia specialty.  “This extraordinary example of faculty philanthropy not only illustrates a culture of giving, but it is also proof of a heartfelt commitment to past, present and future patients,” said Sheldon M. Retchin, M.D., M.S.P.H. (H.S. ’79), senior vice president for VCU Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System. “Our nurse anesthesia students can be proud to be a part of such a caring environment and our university can be proud of the department’s leadership.” To learn more about the Department of Nurse Anesthesia, contact Heather E. Millar, director of development, at (804) 828-5220 or hemillar@vcu.edu.

Development team welcomes new members Laura Kottkamp Director of corporate relations VCU School of Business (804) 828-1734 lekottkamp@vcu.edu Formerly: Director of corporate relations, Mason School of Business, The College of William & Mary

Philip L. O’Connor Corporate relations officer VCU School of Engineering (804) 828-9551 oconnorpl@vcu.edu Formerly: Engineering account manager, Aerotek

Eleanor Shea Development coordinator School of Engineering Foundation  (804) 828-2909 eashea@vcu.edu Formerly: Admissions counselor, Randolph-Macon College

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Alumni sink teeth into contest, raise record funds

Photo Doug Buerlein

There’s a lot to be said for friendly competition, especially if it results in recordbreaking fundraising for a good cause. For the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, that’s exactly what happened during April’s Reunion Weekend, which ended with a record $1.1 million in gifts from all 10 dentistry reunion classes. Two classes were vying for the top-dollar Lyons Cup as the weekend unfolded, and their efforts didn’t disappoint. In the end, John Svirsky, D.D.S. (D.D.S. ’73; M.Ed. ’79), led his 1973 classmates to victory but not before B. Ellen Byrne, D.D.S., Ph.D. (B.S. ’77; D.D.S. ’83; Ph.D. ’91; H.S. 91), and her 1983 class gave them a valiant run for their money. “The whole Reunion Weekend was remarkable,” said David C. Sarrett, D.M.D., dean of the VCU School of Dentistry and associate vice president for VCU Health Sciences-Faculty Affairs. “Our alumni are unbelievably supportive. We manage to keep people connected to their school from the moment they walk into dental school all the way through the 50th reunion. That helps explain why our school leads the university in alumni engagement. I’m very proud and very grateful.” The key to success in this year’s reunion giving efforts might lie in the power of memory. Both David C. Sarrett, D.M.D. (center), dean of the VCU School of Byrne and Svirsky tapped into Dentistry, celebrates with top class fundraisers B. Ellen Byrne, D.D.S., Ph.D., and John Svirsky, D.D.S., at the 2013 reunion. events and feelings of long ago to motivate their classes. “For me, contacting people with a theme that brought back great memories was critical,” Byrne said. “When we were in dental school, for example, we purchased our instruments and carried them with us everywhere. Now we look back and laugh about that. So we raised money for a cause we affectionately named the Winnebago Scholarship in honor of the storage containers we used to transport our dental instruments from place to place.” Byrne and classmate Ross Heisman, D.D.S. (D.D.S. ’83), helped their class rise to the challenge by raising $236,000 for scholarships, meaning less post-graduation debt for students. Svirsky’s efforts also centered on a key memory — that of James Revere, D.D.S (D.D.S. ’65; H.S. ’89), whose temporary teaching job at the School of Dentistry has lasted 35 years and counting. Having also served as admissions dean, clinic dean and interim dean, Revere, now director of planned giving in the school’s development office, has motivated many young students to consider a career in academic dentistry. Svirsky’s class raised $338,000 to support the Dr. James H. Revere Jr. Professorship for Faculty Excellence, which focuses on the development of new faculty through additional training. The professorship began as the Dr. James H. Revere Jr. Lectureship Fund, which Svirsky and his colleague Jim Burns, D.D.S., Ph.D. (D.D.S. ’72; Ph.D. ’80), established in 2010. Both Byrne and Svirsky enjoyed the playful camaraderie of the reunion’s festivities, especially surrounding their fundraising efforts. “I knew I had Ellen beat, but I kept telling her it was real close so she’d go try and raise more money,” Svirsky said. “And she did!” To learn more about the VCU School of Dentistry, contact Gloria F. Callihan, J.D., associate dean of development and alumni affairs, at (804) 828-8101 or gfcallihan@vcu.edu. 8 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy


Radio host bequeaths rare gifts to VCU Libraries Growing up in Richmond, Va., Antonia F.D. Vassar (B.A. ’05), like so many music lovers, accepted Grete Dollitz’s weekly radio invitation to join her in the exploration, learning and appreciation of all things guitar. Dollitz’s radio show, “An Hour with the Guitar,” was one of the longest-running, locally produced weekly public radio shows in the country. The show, which aired on WCVE-FM in Richmond and many other public stations nationally, began in 1988 and continued until Dollitz’s retirement in 2012. She died in May 2013. To preserve her love of music, especially the guitar, Dollitz bequeathed to the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries a collection of rare guitar CD recordings, sheet music, her entire collection of WCVE-FM radio programs and at least 1,000 LPs, including an album autographed by classical guitarist Andrés Segovia. When Vassar, a noted local musician and assistant director for annual giving and donor stewardship at VCU Libraries, learned of the gift, she instantly knew it was significant. “I’d known of Grete for a long time, so I knew it was going to be a wonderful addition to our collection,” she said. “Sheet music for instruments and voice and recordings are all helpful when a student is trying to develop his own technique. Students depend on them.” John Patykula (M.M. ’82), assistant chair and associate professor of guitar in the VCU School of the Arts’ Department of Music, first met Dollitz in the early ’80s. “Grete highlighted so many of the great guitarists on her show, but she was very good to the young and upcoming artists. Her donation is a continuance of that generous spirit,” he said. “Students really need to hear recordings of great artists, and instead of buying them, they can visit the library to increase their familiarity with the work and increase their repertoire. “Hers is an important donation. It’s a big boost to the number of the items we have at VCU.” Currently under review by library staff, Dollitz’s gifts are receiving the same care and attention she gave them during her lifetime. “It’s an astonishing collection and one of the most important music donations we’ve ever received,” said Kevin Farley, VCU Libraries’ humanities collections librarian. “What really deepens this collection is having her show itself, which is an oral history of guitar — hour after hour of wonderful conversations with artists from Richmond and beyond. One hopes at some point they may be streamed online to reach a global audience of music students, teachers and all lovers of the guitar.” To learn more about VCU Libraries, contact Kimberly R. Separ (M.A. ’97), director of development and community relations, at (804) 827-1163 or krsepar@vcu.edu. Grete Dollitz’s gift to VCU Libraries includes rare guitar CD recordings, sheet music, her entire collection of WCVE-FM radio programs and at least 1,000 LPs.

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VMI alumni join forces for VCU medical students The Virginia Military Institute experience is one that stays with alumni for a lifetime. “It’s a tight community,” said Warren W. Koontz Jr., M.D., professor emeritus in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s Division of Urology and a 1953 VMI alumnus. That tight community extends beyond VMI’s Lexington, Va., home. For VMI students hoping to study medicine that spirit of community has helped pave the way for an experience on the MCV Campus. In 2008, Koontz and fellow VMI alumnus David S. Wilkinson, M.D., Ph.D., professor and former chair in the VCU Department of Pathology, worked to include VMI in the School of Medicine’s Preferred Applicant Track, which allows students enrolled at select undergraduate colleges and universities to apply to medical school at the end of their sophomore year. If accepted, those students are guaranteed admission, provided they stay on track for grade and service requirements. As many as 15 VCU undergraduates are accepted annually into the program including up to two students from VMI. Once the preferred track was in place, Koontz made a lead gift Quinn C. Wicks (front), a third-year medical student, in 2009 to establish the VMI studies at VCU with support from fellow VMI alumni Scholarship Fund, gaining support Bruce C. Gottwald Sr. (back left), David S. Wilkinson, from other VMI alumni, including M.D., Ph.D., and Warren W. Koontz Jr., M.D. Bruce C. Gottwald Sr., a member of the VMI Board of Visitors and a longtime supporter of the MCV Foundation and VCU’s School of Engineering. “VMI is a shared experience,” Gottwald said. “It’s four years of close association with your fellow cadets. That builds a certain amount of pride that stays with you. You work your way to graduation by a good bit of extra hard work and responsibility. That’s got to be a plus for medical students.” Quinn C. Wicks, a third-year medical student, was one of the first VMI undergraduates admitted to the School of Medicine via the Preferred Applicant Track. He also is one of the first recipients of the VMI Scholarship. “I’m very fortunate for the blessings that I’ve received from Dr. Koontz and Mr. Gottwald,” Wicks said. Gottwald’s generosity has touched Wicks’ life more than once. At VMI, he was awarded the F.D. Gottwald Scholarship, established by Gottwald and his brother, Floyd, in honor of their late father. Fundraising for the VMI Scholarship at VCU, which is awarded based on need or merit, now stands at more than $200,000, said Wilkinson, whose long-term goal is for the scholarship to cover full tuition for every VMI student admitted to the School of Medicine. “Scholarships are vital in making medical education affordable,” said Jerome Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine. “Our Preferred Applicant Track with  VMI  has brought us some outstanding and disciplined medical students. But these VMI alumni have taken it a step further. I admire the remarkable loyalty they have shown to their alma mater and to their fellow graduates by creating a scholarship that gives a helping hand to VMI cadets who dream of studying at our School of Medicine.” To learn more about the VCU School of Medicine, contact Tom Holland, associate dean for development, at (804) 828-4800 or teholland@vcu.edu. 10 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy


VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. (center), celebrates Universal Corp.’s investment in VCU Massey Cancer Center with (from left) Mike Ligon, vice president of Universal Leaf Foundation; Paul Dent, Ph.D., Universal Corp. endowed chair and Massey researcher; Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., director of Massey and Lipman Chair in Oncology; George Freeman, chairman, president and CEO, Universal Corp.; Nancy Saady, administrator, Universal Leaf Foundation; and Catherine Claiborne, vice president, associate general counsel and secretary, Universal Corp.

Universal Corp. funds endowed chair at Massey The cell signaling research conducted by Paul Dent, Ph.D., has helped change the way different anti-cancer drugs are combined to treat patients. Thanks to Richmond, Va.-based Universal Corp.’s latest investment in Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, Dent, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Neurosurgery, can continue this groundbreaking research. Universal Corp., through the Universal Leaf Foundation, made a new $500,000 gift to support Dent’s work. This latest contribution engaged VCU’s Glasgow Incentive, which matches the gift with money from the Glasgow Trusts, doubling the gift to $1 million and elevating the existing Universal Corporation Distinguished Professorship to create the Universal Corporation Endowed Chair in Cancer Cell Signaling. The endowed chair continues to support Massey’s research in this critical area and will be held by Dent, who has benefited from Universal Corp.’s support since 2003. “Although our foundation is not large, we decided that we want to have a significant impact on Massey and, in particular, on Dr. Dent’s groundbreaking research,” said George C. Freeman III, chairman, president and CEO of Universal Corp. “Universal believes in the work being performed at Massey, and this gift is a reflection of our commitment to furthering the fight to defeat cancer.”    Universal Corp. has made significant contributions to Massey’s cancer research efforts since 2002 and is a longtime supporter of VCU with a history of universitywide philanthropy totaling more than $2 million. “We are profoundly grateful for the sustained financial support from Universal Corp. for research at Massey Cancer Center,” said Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., director of the VCU Massey Cancer Center and Lipman Chair in Oncology. “This support has been vital for Dr. Dent and his collaborators at Massey to make new discoveries in basic research and translate them into better treatments for cancer.” Most recently, Universal Corp. funds helped support three phase I clinical trials. “It’s just amazing, and I am very grateful,” Dent said. “During these challenging times for researchers, this gift has enormous implications for my productivity at Massey and VCU.” ✫ see Universal Corp., continued on Page 12 Fall/Winter 2013 | 11


Pathways donors now locate their bricks online For nearly 10 years, the Pathways Brick Campaign at Virginia Commonwealth University has offered alumni and friends a way to leave a lasting mark on campus. More than 1,400 alumni and friends have purchased personally inscribed bricks, installed in Shafer Court, to honor their parents, friends, accomplishments, faculty … even pets! Finding the bricks after installation, however, proved to be a challenge for the owners, said William “Ike” Tucker (M.Ed. ’06; Cert. ’06), associate director of annual giving. That changed this summer. “Over the summer we introduced new functionality on the website to help our donors find their bricks,” Tucker said. “It’s easy to do by using the ‘locate a brick’ tool on the site. There’s also a ‘construct a brick’ tool to take users to an online order form.” Funds from brick purchases help the VCU Foundation support academic programs on the Monroe Park Campus and assist with the VCU Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences, The Honors College and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, for example. To locate your brick or to purchase one, visit support.vcu.edu/pathways.

The bricks in Shafer Court include everything from names with graduation years and degrees, to personal thank yous and memorial messages to marriage proposals.

Universal Corp.,

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An expert on cancer cell signaling, neuro-oncology and cancer developmental therapies, Dent and his Massey colleagues, Paul B. Fisher, Ph.D., Steven Grant, M.D., Richard Moran, Ph.D., and Andrew Poklepovic, M.D. (H.S. ’07; H.S. ’11), focus on several areas of research interest, including the signaling processes that regulate the survival of liver and kidney cancer cells exposed to various drugs. “We feel that it is our corporate responsibility to give back to the community,” said Mike Ligon, vice president of the Universal Leaf Foundation. “Our interest in Dr. Dent’s work was piqued several years ago when we visited Massey. Our recent opportunity to hear more about his research further convinced us that his work has the potential to have significant impact on how patients are treated. We can’t think of a more exciting way to invest in Massey.” To learn more about VCU Massey Cancer Center, contact Lee Boykin, director of major gifts, at (804) 827-0600 or lboykin@vcu.edu. 12 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy


Young alumnus, student believes in giving back Josh Wilberger, 26, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He is now pursuing another bachelor’s, this time in foreign language with a concentration in Spanish, and a master’s in business with a concentration in global marketing management. Although he is still enrolled as a student, Wilberger has already started giving back to VCU. One of the main tenets that stuck with Wilberger when he became an Eagle Scout years ago is the idea of leaving things better than when you found them. “Higher education is at a crossroads. It’s a paradigm shift. For students in the future to have the same experiences I’ve had, which have been great, Current student and young alumnus that financial support needs to be there to continue Josh Wilberger has made several annual fund gifts. for the next generation,” he said. Wilberger wants to contribute to a stronger foundation for students to get grants for undergraduate research, study abroad and financial aid. “Whatever way the money is used, I recognize it is a crucial factor.” Michael P. Andrews (M.S. ’05), director of annual giving at VCU, appreciates Wilberger’s commitment, especially at such a young age. “Private donations from our alumni base are more critical now than it has ever been with the reduction in federal and state support,” he said. “Although many of our alumni put themselves through school, worked multiple jobs and struggled to find financial assistance, Josh and those like him will help provide transformational opportunities at VCU.”

$2.5 million grant funds study of Atlantic sturgeon The  Virginia Commonwealth University Inger and Walter Rice Center  for Environmental Life Sciences and  the Center for Environmental Studies  have been funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct research on the federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon under its Section 6 (endangered species) program. The $700,000, three-year award to VCU is part of a $2.5 million grant to understand the biology and ecology of this fish in the Chesapeake Bay region. The Rice Rivers Center has earned a national reputation for its work on Atlantic sturgeon and other migratory fishes that depend on the James River estuary. As a result of the award, VCU will develop and deploy cutting-edge acoustic telemetry and  geographic information systems technologies to track migrating sturgeon and determine habitat preferences in real time. Also as part of the award, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council has invited VCU fish biologists to serve as technical advisers on a national sturgeon recovery panel this fall. A third Atlantic sturgeon spawning reef was constructed in the James River in July. The Rice Rivers Center will be conducting post-construction monitoring of the habitat. The reef was constructed by the James River Association in partnership with Luck Stone. Other institutions partnering for the research include the University of Maryland and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Fall/Winter 2013 | 13


Donors give new teachers incentive to stay local “The Navy Seals of teachers.” That is how some describe the hopeful outcome for participants in the Richmond Teacher Residency program, a unique residency model that brings individuals from around the country to the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education and Richmond Public Schools. Students earn their Master of Teaching at VCU and receive tuition support and a living stipend during the residency year. They must then make a three-year commitment to serve in a high-need  secondary school in Richmond Public Schools. In exchange, they will continue to receive ongoing coaching and professional development. “This program would not work withBrian White, president of Main Street Realty, is joined by his wife, Laura, School of Education Dean Christine out our corporate partners, who have Walther-Thomas, Ph.D., and Jim Ukrop at a recent stepped up, to ensure RTR has some of reception. the resources it needs to be successful,” said Christine Walther-Thomas, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Education. “We are grateful for Main Street Realty and all our partners in supporting this innovative program.” Led by father-and-son team David and Brian White, Main Street Realty, a property management firm, has provided discounted housing to residents in historic Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, Va., hosted welcome receptions and provided 24/7 access to a seminar room that residents can utilize for lesson planning and collaborative work with other residents. The residency program in Richmond is one of the few in the country where residents live together. Main Street Realty joins Union First Market Bank and the Greater Richmond Chamber Foundation in support of the program. There are a number of ways you or your organization can help support Richmond Teacher Residency. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Magnus H. Johnsson (M.P.A. ’10; Cert. ‘10), executive director of external affairs and development for the School of Education, at (804) 827-1363  or johnssonm@vcu.edu.

Friends of the Library enjoy record-setting year The Virginia Commonwealth University Friends of the Library set a giving record in fiscal year 2013, with an average Friends’ gift increase of almost 46 percent. Donors include VCU alumni, current and retired VCU faculty and staff, parents of VCU students and members of the Greater Richmond community.  Did you attend any VCU Libraries events last year? If so, you were in good company — more than 6,700 people attended events sponsored or co-sponsored by the VCU Libraries. All of these events are made possible thanks to the generosity of Friends of the Library donors. The VCU Friends of the Library is a circle of annual donors that foster donations, endowments and memorials to both James Branch Cabell Library and TompkinsMcCaw Library for the Health Sciences. The Friends also serve as a community gateway to VCU by sponsoring some of the most popular and respected lectures and events in Central Virginia, open to everyone in the community. Donors of $100 or more receive borrowing privileges for personal use, invitations to Friends-sponsored events and admission to the preview of the annual book sale. 14 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy


VCU leads $62 million study of TBIs in military Virginia Commonwealth University has been awarded a $62 million federal grant from the White House to oversee a national research consortium of universities, hospitals and clinics that will study what happens to service members and veterans who suffer mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions. The  types of concussions that will be studied include both combat injuries, such as those from blasts and bullets, and civilian injuries, such as those from car crashes, sports injuries and falls. The researchers involved in the  departments of Defense  and Veterans  Affairs grant have been studying brain injuries and working with Veterans  Health Administration  hospitals (including Richmond’s Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center), the military and universities for many years. They will now share their knowledge and work toward solutions for TBIs. The principal investigator on the grant is David X. Cifu, M.D., Herman J. Flax, M.D. Professor and chair of the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and executive director of VCU’s Center for Rehabilitation Sciences and Engineering. “This is another significant milestone in VCU’s ascent as a national-caliber public research university,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “We recognize that an award of this magnitude only results from the research excellence that is fostered and encouraged across VCU.” This is the second particularly large grant that VCU has received in recent years. In 2010, VCU received a $20 million grant — until now, the largest federal award in its history — from the National Institutes of Health to become part of a nationwide consortium of research institutions working to turn laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients. VCU was the only academic health center in Virginia selected to join the consortium. “The magnitude of traumatic brain injury research at VCU, and all the neurosciences for that matter, has laid the groundwork for a grant like this,” said Sheldon Retchin, M.D., M.S.P.H. (H.S. ’79), senior vice president of VCU Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System. “The research across the rehabilitation medicine spectrum, particularly as it relates to traumatic brain injuries and military personnel, was the springboard to this research grant.” The members in the TBI consortium will study groups of veterans who have been injured in prior wars, such as those in Korea and Vietnam, in more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in car accidents, sports and falls in the U.S. The research is expected to continue for five years, with information available as early as the six-month mark. Fall/Winter 2013 | 15


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Power of Personal Philanthropy 2013 fall winter  

Power of Personal Philanthropy 2013 fall winter

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