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Goals within reach Scholarship helps special education teacher prepare to help others fulfill their potential

Why I give ...

“My late husband, Jerry Donato, was a beloved professor of painting at VCU for 38 years. I know he would be happy to see the transformative effect that VCU’s School of the Arts and the James Branch Cabell Library have had on Richmond. It is gratifying that his legacy goes on with the Donato Prize in Painting and Sculpture, the library’s Donato Wall and with a seating area named in his memory at the ICA, which has become the crowning jewel he always dreamed of and hoped for.” Joan Gaustad (B.F.A.’75/A) Black & Gold Loyalty Society member with seven years of consecutive giving

The Black & Gold Loyalty Society honors alumni and their partners who have made gifts to VCU for five or more consecutive years. To learn more about the Black & Gold Loyalty Society, visit

Participants in the Richmond Values Tennis Tournament in January. See article, Page 23. Photo VCU Athletics

Features 2

Bound for success


Above & beyond


An international outlook


Better together

A School of Business student combines a strong work ethic, leadership skills and on-campus involvement with scholarships to propel himself to a promising career. Regular volunteer trips to Vietnam as a teacher and mentor garner benefits at home and abroad for a urology professor, his students and his patients.

An early childhood special education teacher credits a scholarship that helped her enroll in an extra course as a student with helping hone her collaborative approach. A pediatric professor leverages the practices of medicine and engineering to partner with industry on a new inhaler device for children.

On the cover Early childhood special education teacher Elizabeth Phillips (M.Ed.’14/E) and her students

Photo Jay Paul

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Jay E. Davenport, CFRE • Development and Alumni Communications Melanie Irvin Seiler (B.S.‘96/H&S),; Mitchell Moore (B.S.’07/MC; M.S.’08/E),; Emma Coates,; Brelyn Powell,; Jud Froelich, Impact is published quarterly by the Virginia Commonwealth University Office of Development and Alumni Relations. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the editorial staff or the university. © 2018, Virginia Commonwealth University, an equal opportunity, affirmative action university • 1

BOUNDfor SUCCESS Ambitious and talented School of Business student harnesses scholarships to help him accomplish his career goals B Y B R E LY N P O W E L L

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Curtis Holloway shares his story with leadership donors at the VCU School of Business annual Investors Circle fall event. Photo Terry Brown Photography

resh out of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, Curtis Holloway (B.S.’17/B) already has a reputation. As a student, he was well-known for his work ethic, leadership skills and extensive involvement on campus. And by the time he earned his degree in accounting and human resources a semester ahead of schedule, in December 2017, he already had a job offer from the Washington, D.C., office of Chicago-­ based accounting firm BDO. To Holloway, these accomplishments once seemed out of reach. He remembers sitting with his mother at the kitchen table in their Maryland home. “Both of us were crying,” Holloway says. “We were looking at all of our finances and realizing how hard it was going to be for us to afford tuition.” But they knew VCU was where he belonged and resolved to do whatever it took to get him there – despite the even greater financial burden he would incur as an out-of-state student. Before Holloway officially enrolled in 2014, his mother gave him some advice. “My mother told me that a closed mouth never gets fed, and I took it to heart,” he says. “You have to take initiative to get whatever it is you need to accomplish your goals.” • 3

“I hope I can inspire future students to overcome the challenges they face by working hard and seeking support from others when they need it.” –Curtis Holloway (B.S.’17/B)


Holloway abandoned his comfort zone early in his first year on campus. He realized that he needed help navigating his options for academic, professional and, most important, financial assistance and wasn’t going to let a fear of putting himself out there hold him back. “A close friend always told me that the answer to every unasked question is ‘No,’” he says. “I knew that the more people I was able to connect with, the easier it would be to reach out to someone for advice.” With guidance from staff in admissions, student affairs and the School of Business, Holloway applied for scholarships. When recipients were announced in the spring semester, he was elated to tell his mother he had been selected for two awards. “I called her as soon as I found out,” he recalls. “We were crying again, but this time it was tears of joy. We were just so relieved.” Finally, Holloway believed he could afford his education. He continued

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to apply for scholarships each semester throughout his time at VCU. By graduation, he had received more than $20,000 in assistance, including the John Sperry Scholarship, the H. David Willis Scholarship, the D.H. Klayton Memorial Scholarship, the PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholarship, the VCU School of Business Alumni Association Scholarship and the Central Virginia Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditor’s Theron Bell Memorial Scholarship. “Each scholarship helped me ensure I would be able to come back to VCU for the next semester,” Holloway says.


Holloway focused on preparing for his future. He took advantage of School of Business programs such as BizConnect, which facilitates opportunities for professional development and mentorship between students and local business professionals in their field of interest. He was matched with Joseph E. Becht Jr. (M.B.A.’80/B). “Being a mentor is an awesome expe-

rience,” says Becht, managing partner at Becht Advisory Group in Mechanicsville, Virginia, and an active member of the VCU Alumni Board of Governors and VCU Alumni’s Business Alumni Society. “Curtis is enthusiastic, eager and always interested in improving and taking himself to the next level. It’s fun to watch someone mature and grow through the years, and it’s been an honor to help him position himself to be successful in the long run.” Fostering relationships with students like Holloway, with whom he is still in touch, is one of his greatest passions, Becht says. In 2017, he created the Becht Family Scholarship to help ambitious students prosper at VCU. The award will be given annually to an undergraduate student in the School of Business who has demonstrated financial need, is an active member in a School of Business-­ affiliated student organization and has a GPA of at least 3.0. “Curtis stands out to me as being particularly hardworking,” Becht says. “I meet a lot of students who, like him, are dedicated and driven but still struggling to afford their college expenses. I know those students have the potential to be left behind, and I don’t want that to happen. As long as I have the means, I would like to help them accomplish what they want to accomplish.” School of Business Dean Ed Grier says that promising students should not miss out on the opportunity to further their education because of a lack of financial resources. “The VCU School of Business is able to attract and retain high-achieving

Curtis Holloway

Online extra students like Curtis Holloway thanks to generous contributions from our donors,” he says. “Their support is essential to our ability to serve our students and to our growth in prominence as a leading business school.” Holloway learned that a helping hand can provide hope and courage in times of hardship, and he looks forward to providing that support to future VCU students as soon as he has the means. “I already know that I plan on giving

back to VCU,” he says. “I’d love to donate to scholarships, but I also hope I have the chance to be a mentor to other students. I overcame my struggles, and I want to be someone other people can learn from and look up to.” And for students who might relate to his story, Holloway has some familiar advice. “My mother was right – you can’t just wait for opportunities to fall into your lap,” he says. “I hope I can inspire future

To hear from students and mentors in the VCU School of Business BizConnect program, visit

students to overcome the challenges they face by working hard and seeking support from others when they need it.” To learn more about the School of Business, contact Shannon K. Duvall, chief development officer, at (804) 828-1035 or • 5

Lance Hampton, M.D. Photo Jud Froelich

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Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine Urology Chair Lance Hampton, M.D., has traveled to Vietnam almost every year since 2009 as a volunteer mentor for IVUmed’s Traveling Resident Scholarship Program. The program pairs a mentor with a urology resident from the United States and sends them to a host country, where they provide training in the advanced techniques they use at home and experience surgery in a developing country with minimal resources. At VCU, Hampton is the holder of the Barbara and William B. Thalhimer, Jr. Professorship in Urology, which was established in 1989 to attract and retain eminent urology scholars. The professorship supports all of Hampton’s efforts to advance VCU’s urology program, including his work with the Vietnam volunteer program. “These trips have enhanced my surgical practice in many ways,” Hampton says, “and have helped me to educate future urologists and help the patients of central Virginia as well.” This is Hampton’s personal account of his trips over the years. BY LANCE HAMPTON, M.D. • 7

Ngoc Hampton and the Hue urologist Pham River me Perfu the on da pago a at Hung

Hampton (fourth from left) with VCU plastic surgery resident Collier Pace; VCU urology resident Mary Ellen Pace; Hue University liaison Huu Khon Nguyen; Hampton’s wife, Suzie Hampton; and Rhode Island urology resident Andrew Leone

LIKE MOST AMERICANS, the only things I knew about Vietnam were the stories that I had heard about the Vietnam War. As a child of the ’70s, I grew up in a time where everyone, from my parents to the media, was trying to put the war behind them. Little did I know then that many years later, I would be traveling regularly to the heart of the Tet Offensive in Hue, Vietnam. When I arrived at VCU Medical Center from Southern California in 2008, I found out about a longtime urology volunteer program based out of the University of Utah, International Volunteers in Urology (soon to become IVUmed). IVUmed is a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching urology in developing countries, and the program offered the chance for a “resident mentor” trip to Hue, Vietnam. I was interested in international volunteering, so I immediately applied and was accepted. One of my residents, Cameron Wilson, M.D. (M.D.’07/M; H.S.’12/M), also applied and accompanied me to Hue in October 2009. Hue is known as the imperial capital of Vietnam. It was home to the Nguyen emperors for hundreds of years. In the middle of the current modern city is the Citadel, an ancient,

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walled city. The Perfume River splits the city and runs just south of the Citadel. Nationwide, the Vietnamese recognize the Perfume River as the “most beautiful river in all of Vietnam.” The city is also home to Hue University School of Medicine and Pharmacy, which is the third-largest medical school in Vietnam and graduates more than 1,000 physicians every year, who practice throughout the country. The medical school is our base during our time there. Our days are filled with a continuous rotating schedule of operating, teaching, lecturing and, of course, eating and drinking with our extraordinarily friendly Vietnamese hosts. The VCU trips to Hue have been extremely beneficial to both institutions. “A good mechanic never blames his tools” is a common expression in surgery, and these trips have taught me that a master surgeon provides excellent care, regardless of the available tools. Surgically, the Vietnamese urologists are masters of their craft, but they are working with severely limited resources. Laparoscopy, which has been a standard feature of American operating rooms for 30 years, has only recently been possible in Vietnam. At VCU, we have been performing robot-assisted surgery for the past decade. Virtually all major hospitals in the

United States have at least one surgical robot (and most have multiple robots). Vietnam has two robots in the entire country, servicing a population of 92 million people. We have expanded the services provided at Hue University to include urologic cancer care, advanced laparoscopy, pediatric urology, reconstructive surgery, percutaneous stone surgery and even advanced plastic surgery techniques with our colleagues in the VCU Division of Plastic Surgery. Returning to the United States after these trips, I have incorporated many Vietnamese surgical techniques into my practice, and they have been used to help patients in central Virginia. Just a few weeks after returning from our inaugural trip, I met a patient with an extremely large renal stone that I removed in a single operation using an “old-fashioned” open technique I had learned in Hue. In the United States, this type of operation is typically performed using minimally invasive techniques that can involve multiple procedures, last several hours and leave the patient with multiple stone fragments. For the seven VCU urology residents who have participated over the years, this has been an opportunity of a lifetime. A global perspective of education and surgical care enables these future urologists to appreciate what they have and to practice an altruistic approach to global health care. After graduating from VCU urology, many residents have continued to be involved in international surgical volunteering.

Personally, I have also found it rewarding to have the opportunity to work with urology residents from other institutions including Duke; the University of Miami; the University of California, San Francisco; and Ohio State, as well as urologists from Boston, San Francisco and Texas. Thanks to the Thalhimer Professorship held at the MCV Foundation, along with the VCU Department of Surgery and the Division of Urology, these trips have been met with tremendous support, including financial. Through the medical school’s dean’s office and the VCU Global Education Office, we now have a formal collaboration agreement between the VCU School of Medicine and Hue University School of Medicine and Pharmacy to provide teaching and continued interaction. As surgeons and educators in the most prosperous country in the world, we have a debt to the rest of the world. It’s not enough to sit back and enjoy the many benefits and luxuries that we are lucky to have. We are obliged to give back and leave this world better than we found it. For me, this means improving surgical care and the education of residents, medical students and patients in central Vietnam as well as in central Virginia. To learn more about the School of Medicine, contact Amy Lane, Ph.D., director of major gifts, at (804) 827-4937 or

Hampton giving a lecture to about 200 third-year medical students The urology conference room right before “morning report” • 9

Photo Tom Kojcsich, VCU University Marketing

H&S breakfast celebrates scholarship donors and students

Recognition for VCU Libraries Donor support has helped VCU Libraries secure membership in the Association of Research Libraries, a nonprofit organization of research libraries at comprehensive research institutions in the United States and Canada that share similar research missions, aspirations and achievements. VCU Libraries became the 125th member Jan. 1 after a vote at the association’s fall 2017 meeting. The vote followed a review of the library that considered both qualitative and quantitative documentation and a site visit. The rigorous review process included an examination of the breadth and depth of collections, uniqueness of research resources, services to the library’s community, potential contributions to scholarship, and leadership in the library and information science profession. The review committee noted in particular the sustained growth of the institution and its support for the library. VCU becomes ARL’s first new U.S. member in more than 15 years and joins the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech as the only ARL institutions in Virginia. University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider says VCU Libraries’ membership in the prestigious organization has long been a strategic objective. “We have reached an important milestone in VCU’s maturation as a research university with this recognition of our excellence,” Ulmschneider says. “Because of financial support from donors, we were able to focus public funds on collection development and critical staffing and infrastructure investments that made our candidacy for membership in ARL possible.” 10 • Impact

A November breakfast hosted by the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences celebrated its 2017-18 scholarship recipients and the generous donors who have made an investment in their education. Former faculty, alumni and others who have made gifts had a chance to meet their scholarship recipients, enjoy a cup of coffee and get to know one another. Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences Montse Fuentes, Ph.D., welcomed guests and congratulated students. “I hope the donors here this morning are as impressed as I am with the scholarship recipients’ dedication to their studies,” Fuentes said, “and I hope the students will get a sense of the passion of our donors and learn how their education and experiences have inspired them to give back to the College.” To learn more about the College of Humanities and Sciences, contact Bethanie Constant, senior director of development and alumni relations, at (804) 828-4543 or

Fundraisers toast achieving ­social work goal with a brew Virginia Commonwealth University emeritus faculty Bob Peay (M.S.W.’74/SW) and Bob Schneider, Ph.D., successfully met their goal to raise $100,000 for the Social Work, Administration, Planning, and Policy Practice scholarship in November at an event hosted at Strangeways Brewing in Richmond, Virginia. Founded in 2004 by Peay, a School of Social Work Alumni Star, and Schneider, the scholarship supports second-year M.S.W. students with a demonstrated commitment to macro social work practice. Macro Brew 2017 featured a special Macro Brew ale offered by Strangeways Brewing. Scholarship recipient Allison Gilbreath (M.S.W.’16/SW) talked to attendees about her academic journey and the impact of receiving the scholarship. To learn more about the School of Social Work, contact Mary Riddick, director of development, at (804) 828-7166 or

Online extra

To watch the I ♥ VCU Challenge video, visit

VCU Alumni asks Class of 2018 to commemorate graduation with a gift A new initiative at Virginia Commonwealth University aims to get students thinking about giving back to their alma mater before they graduate. The I ♥ VCU Challenge: Class Giving Campaign invites members of the Class of 2018 to commemorate their graduation year with a $20.18 gift to support a fund of their choice. Kejdi Abazi, who graduated in May with a degree in health, physical education and exercise science, made a gift to the class giving campaign during its soft launch in December. “Every student has been supported by a donation at one point or another during their years here, so I think it’s important for us to pay it forward and make sure that future students have the same opportunities that we’ve had,” she says. The campaign is set to run throughout the spring semester but received a boost April 9-13 during Class Giving Week. Members of Students Today Alumni Tomorrow tabled daily at convenient locations across campus, equipped with laptops and tablets for students to view the website, decide how to designate their support and then make their donation. The new site, hosted by VCU Alumni, explains the different ways students can support the university and make a gift online.

“I always knew I would become a donor to VCU one day, but I thought I would have to give thousands of dollars for it to really count,” says Abazi, who is a member of STAT. “This campaign helped me understand that even a gift of just $20.18 can have an impact. Once I realized that, I knew I didn’t have to wait until I graduated – I could start right now.” The I ♥ VCU Challenge: Class Giving Campaign is organized by VCU Alumni and the Office of Annual Giving. Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations Joshua Hiscock explains that the class giving campaign is a great opportunity for students like Abazi, who want to give back to the university but wonder how much of a difference they can make with a gift within their budget. “One student’s gift of $20.18 may seem small, but consider how powerful that amount becomes when many individuals join together to give,” he says. “Whether it is giving to scholarships or student organizations, every gift of every amount matters and can open doors for students, providing new opportunities that could transform someone’s life.” To learn more about the 2018 class giving campaign, contact Michael P. Andrews (M.S.’05/E), executive director of annual giving, at (804) 828-0236 or, or visit • 11

Gordon Ginder, M.D. (left); Mary Helen Hackney, M.D.; Mark Malkin, M.D.; Harry Bear, M.D., Ph.D.; Walter Lawrence Jr., M.D.; and Rebecca C. “Becky” Massey at Celebrating Massey

Cancer Research Innovation Fund established in director’s honor The Cancer Research Innovation Fund has been established in honor of the 20th anniversary of Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., as director of VCU Massey Cancer Center. The fund was announced as a surprise Nov. 2 at Celebrating Massey, an annual recognition reception for donors and supporters. In an initial quiet fundraising period, a generous lead gift of $1 million was contributed anonymously along with additional gifts, including $250,000 from the Massey Foundation. The fund is dedicated to supporting research priorities outlined in Ginder’s Vision 2021, a strategic plan that Ginder presented earlier this year that is designed to support Massey’s ultimate goal of earning the National Cancer Institute’s highest designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. Vision 2021 aims to accelerate research among the cross-cutting themes of precision medicine, immuno-oncology, disparities and minority 12 • Impact

health research, and the roles of obesity, metabolism and inflammation in cancer. Massey’s dedicated community of donors see the Cancer Research Innovation Fund as a fitting reflection of Ginder’s leadership and commitment to groundbreaking research. “I cannot think of a more significant tribute to honor Gordon,” says Mike Gracik, who leads the Massey Advisory Board’s major gifts committee. “His remarkable and steadfast leadership has strategically positioned Massey Cancer Center’s success year after year. This fund is a meaningful way for the community to show our gratitude, celebrate Gordon’s career and accelerate groundbreaking research.” To learn more about the Cancer Research Innovation Fund at VCU Massey Cancer Center, contact Cindy Zilch, chief development officer, at (804) 828-1452 or

Royalls welcome art education teachers, alumni to Try-me space

Photo Chris Ijams

The inclusive classrooms Q&A at Try-me

Virginia Commonwealth University donors Pamela Kiecker Royall and William A. “Bill” Royall hosted a February reception at their Try-me art space in Richmond, Virginia, as part of the Teach Appreash events organized by the VCU School of the Arts Department of Art Education. Local art teachers attended the reception after a panel discussion at the Byrd Theatre on the state of art education in Richmond Public Schools and how to meet the needs of minority students. At Try-me, artist Paul Rucker; art education scholars Joni Acuff, Ph.D., Alphonso Grant, Ph.D., and Amelia Kraehe, Ph.D.; and local teachers Letitia Harris and William Johnson (B.F.A.’83/A) participated in a Q&A about creating inclusive classrooms through art education. “We have been so fortunate over the last six years to have Pam and Bill Royall generously open their private art space for this special event,” says Sara Wilson McKay, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Art Education. “They really value the work that art teachers do in our community, and art education is so grateful for their support. The teachers rave each year about the special opportunity to see the art in their incredible contemporary art collection.”

Author alumna returns for talk

Photo Joe Mahoney/VCU Libraries

VCU Libraries welcomed author Eva Dillon (B.M.’82/A) in December to talk about her best-selling book “Spies in the Family,” which details her father’s pivotal role in the Cold War as a CIA agent. Dillon’s father worked as a handler for a Russian double agent who passed secrets to the United States. In her talk, she described her book as a “double-memoir” that details the softer side of espionage, taking a look at both her family and the Soviet family with whom her father worked so closely as they sat on opposite sides of the Cold War. VCU Libraries donors mingled with Dillon and her family at a VIP event before the talk.

Eva Dillon at James Branch Cabell Library in December • 13




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Scholarship helps aspiring teacher go the extra mile preparing for her career in early childhood special education

Elizabeth Phillips with her students at Bensley Elementary School in Chesterfield County, Virginia Photo Jay Paul • 15



hen one of her students faces a challenge during a class activity, Elizabeth Phillips (M.Ed.’14/E) looks for inspiration in the lessons she learned as a graduate student in the Virginia Commonwealth Univer­ sity School of Education. “I start thinking about strategies my professors suggested and how I can use different approaches to help my students,” she says. “I’ve learned to think quickly on my feet. What motivates a student one day might not work the next day, and it’s my job to figure out how to motivate that student in order to help them improve, succeed and meet their goals.” Phillips teaches early childhood special education at Bensley Elementary School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. She has six students in her class this year, each unique in their physical, emotional and intellectual abilities, so working as a team with the students’ families and health care providers is essential to their progress. In many cases, this teamwork provides valuable insight into how educators can accommodate their students’ needs in class. Phillips recalls a former student who struggled with hand-eye coordination until a conversation with the child’s case management nurse revealed that he had been prescribed eyeglasses. “We were a few months into the school year, and not once had I seen the student wear glasses,” she says. Phillips contacted the child’s parents. When they told her they had not been making him wear them because he did not want to, Phillips helped them understand how his vision deficits were impacting his classroom performance and suggested they could help by making sure he wore them to school each day. “I never would have known to have that conversation with them if I hadn’t gotten that medical information from his nurse,” says Phillips, who quickly noticed improvement in the student’s performance after he started wearing his glasses. 16 • Impact

Phillips developed her collaborative approach to teaching in one of her graduate courses in VCU’s Early Childhood Special Education program. Interdisciplinary Methods in Early Intervention is not required for graduation, but Phillips knew the material would be helpful in her teaching career. “I wanted to be as well-rounded and prepared as possible for a career in special education, if it meant going beyond the course requirements for my degree,” she explains. She could afford to enroll in an extra course with a $600 award from the Ann Sarratt Garner Endowed Scholarship. Howard G. Garner, Ph.D., a former VCU faculty member and the first director of the Partnership for People with Disabilities, established the fund in 2007 with a $10,000 gift in memory of his late wife, Ann Sarratt Garner (M.S.’83/E). After graduating from the VCU School of Education, Ann Garner taught special education in Henrico County, Virginia, until she retired in 1999. She died of ovarian cancer six years later at the age of 64. “Ann was an excellent teacher,” Garner says. “She worked hard and loved what she did, and I know how important it would be to her to be supportive of these new teachers who are entering the field that meant so much to her.” Garner notes that early childhood special education teachers provide guidance and support during a critical time for children with disabilities, and scholarships help aspiring educators prepare to take on that responsibility. “Early intervention can make a huge difference for these children in shaping the rest of their lives, so educators in this field play an important role,” he says. “The more qualified these graduates are, the greater impact they will have on the lives of young students.” Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Education, agrees. “Scholarships are so important to our students, and they

Phillips with her students Photo Jay Paul

are equally important to the donor as they are investments in people who make a difference in so many lives over the years,” he says. “Ann Sarratt Garner’s contribution as a teacher lives on in many students who have since become capable and dedicated alumni like Elizabeth Phillips.” Phillips continues to be grateful for the assistance she received from the Ann Sarratt Garner Scholarship and the opportunities it gave her. “I was able to focus on my studies and professional development instead of stressing about money and getting an extra job to cover tuition,” she says. “That financial support made a big difference to my family’s financial situation and made graduating a reality for me.”

Garner and his wife, Barbara Hulburt, have continued to contribute to the endowment over the years. They hope the fund receives additional support from others who share their passion for special education. “It’s very important that people with means provide as much support as they can to people who are just starting out,” Garner says. “The idea of making the advancement of someone’s career less stressful and perhaps making graduate school a richer experience without being as financially draining as it can be – I feel lucky to be a part of that.” To learn more about the School of Education, contact Ed Kardos, senior director of development, at (804) 828-4692 or • 17

Bruce Rubin, M.Engr., M.D., M.B.A., with a patient in 2009 Photo Allen Jones, VCU University Marketing

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together BETTER

Pediatric professor’s engineering expertise brings about awardwinning partnership between industry and academia to improve lives of children with lung diseases BY BRELYN POWELL


n extensive background in engineering and aerosol science gives Bruce K. Rubin, M.Engr., M.D., M.B.A., a unique approach to his research in pediatric pulmonary medicine. “Where I come from, engineers apply the principles of fluid mechanics to study how oil moves through pipelines in adverse conditions,” explains Rubin, who hails from Alberta, Canada. “I had the epiphany that if you look at bronchial tubes as pipelines and mucus as oil, you can use the same approach to understand it and improve therapy.” The professor, who holds a dual appointment in Virginia Commonwealth University’s schools of Medicine and Engineering, leverages the best practices of both disciplines to develop and improve medical devices for children. This distinct approach has made him a sought-after research partner. In 2011, the chief executive officer at Protec’Som, a startup aerosol company in Normandy, France, approached Rubin to partner on a new pediatric inhaler device aimed at helping children manage their inhaled therapy treatments. • 19

Rubin demonstrates how his inhaler prototype works

Since that initial meeting, Rubin has led a team of researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU in partnership with engineers at Protec’Som to create an inhaler that can determine if a child is using the device effectively and, if not, teach them how to improve their technique. “We wanted our product to provide not just feedback but appropriate training,” Rubin says. “We wondered, if we could do that and make it reasonably affordable, what would that look like?” 20 • Impact

The team has developed a prototype for an inhaler that collects data on particle size and flow of the medication using light refraction. That information is then communicated via radio frequency to a program that calculates the speed, volume and success of each inhalation based on the principles of fluid mechanics. A system of red, yellow and green lights on the device indicates whether the child needs to inhale faster or more slowly to optimize intake. “This could be a breakthrough for patients with a variety of conditions,” Rubin

explains. “It’s currently designed for metered-dose and dry powder inhalers, which are used to treat asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis or any airway disease where you would want to administer a drug by aerosol.” The invention garnered international honors at the 2017 Prix Galien International Awards, which promote significant advances in pharmaceutical research. Each year, a jury of clinicians, toxicologists, pharmacologists and pharmacists select the most important drugs introduced into

the public market as well as recognize the achievements of the best research teams in the pharmaceutical field. Rubin’s work with Protec’Som won in the category of Best Collaboration with Academia Leading to a Breakthrough. “We are proud to see Dr. Rubin and his collaborators honored with this impressive award,” says Peter F. Buckley, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine. “Dr. Rubin applies his dedication and ingenuity to improving children’s lives – and this technology has the potential to do that very thing.”

Rich partnerships

Photo Jud Froelich

Rubin’s expertise has been an important factor in the success of the Atlantic Pediatric Device Consortium, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-funded collaboration among VCU, CHoR, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and Children’s Hospital of Atlanta to further the development of medical devices for children. “He can identify a clinical need and par­ticipate actively in the design and development of the device that meets that need,” says Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Chair and dean of the VCU School of Engineering, who serves as a co-director of APDC. Rubin joined VCU in 2009 as the Jessie Ball duPont Distinguished Professor, with appointments as chair of the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, physician-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond and professor of biomedical engineering in the VCU School of Engineering.

“With constrained funding for basic and translational research, it is more important than ever to have the ability to partner with companies to do really meaningful research that benefits patients.” – Bruce K. Rubin, M.Engr., M.D., M.B.A.

The professorship was established after industrialist, financier and philanthropist Alfred I. duPont died in 1935 and left the majority of his estate to the Alfred I. duPont Living Trust to be used to support advancements in pediatric medicine. In 1984, the trust made a $350,000 gift to establish the Jessie Ball duPont Distinguished Professorship, named for duPont’s wife, who also gave money to the Medical College of Virginia and the care of children during her lifetime. “Endowed faculty positions in the School of Medicine are essential in recruiting, retaining and rewarding the accomplishments of distinguished scholars such as Dr. Rubin,” Buckley says. “These positions are offered to the best and brightest in their fields, bringing recognition to the holder and the institution.” These positions also provide flexibility for physicians and scientists to pursue groundbreaking research and collaborations like that between Rubin and Protec’Som. “Partnerships between industry and academic professionals are so rich,” Rubin says. “With constrained funding for basic and translational research, it is more important than ever to have the ability

to partner with companies to do really meaningful research that benefits patients. Having that entrepreneurial spirit is going to be critical for the future of translational development for our patients.” Sharing this trailblazing attitude, Rubin says, has been fundamental to the success of his work with Protec’Som. “We have a shared vision, a similar enthusiasm and a common goal for the project,” he says. Rubin meets regularly with his partners at Protec’Som as the inhaler is developed further. Next, the device will be reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. If it’s approved, initial clinical trials can begin. Rubin hopes that studies in patients will be conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU by the end of the year. “It’s getting close, and we’re really looking forward to taking these next steps,” Rubin says. “It’s been an exciting partnership, and I’m looking forward to continuing this work.” To learn more about the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, contact Lauren Moore, director of development for VCU Health, at (804) 828-4100 or • 21

Trani Scholarship recipients meet donor and namesake at luncheon

VCU President Emeritus Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D., and Ken Wright (center) with Trani Scholarship recipients

VCU honored current and new recipients of the Eugene P. Trani Scholarship at a Nov. 3 luncheon attended by leadership donor C. Kenneth Wright (H.L.D.’11) and VCU President Emeritus Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D. Wright and his late wife, Dianne, established the Trani Scholars program in 2008 in honor of Trani’s 19 years of service as president of VCU. Other donors joined the effort and made gifts to the scholarship in his honor. The scholarships, which are awarded based on merit, cover about half of the students’ tuition and fees for four years. Other attendees at the luncheon included members of the Trani Scholarship Selection Committee: Judge Roger Gregory, Timothy Gresham, Audrey Pape, Janet Riddick and Paul Rocheleau.

$1.2M gift, largest in school’s history, funds education professorship A $1.2 million gift will create a new faculty position in the VCU School of Education. The holder of the Anna Lou Schaberg Professorship of Practice in Education will concentrate on the theory and implementation of pedagogical practices that can transform a classroom, a school and a child’s education. The gift from The Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Fund at the Virginia Nonprofit Housing Coalition is the largest single donation in the history of the School of Education and will create the school’s first endowed distinguished professorship. “My hope is that the professor of practice will prepare teachers not only to manage classrooms and instructional objectives but to engage students in the learning and thinking process,” says Anna Lou Schaberg (B.S.’66/H&S; M.Ed.’70/E). Schaberg worked with Richmond Public Schools for 29 years, notably coordinating programs for gifted students 1977-2000. “I remember my first week as a teacher. It was one of the scariest times of my life,” she says. “[The goal of this position] will be to prepare teachers not just for their first day in the

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classroom but also for their fifth year, so that they are still enthusiastic and excited about teaching.” Since her retirement in 2000, Schaberg has served as executive director of The Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Fund at VNHC. The fund supports nonprofit organizations and institutions that successfully help vulnerable populations become stable and thriving. Her husband, Bob Schaberg, created the fund and manages its finances. While it began on a small scale, it now supports numerous organizations in greater Richmond, Virginia, with grant, gift and capacitybuilding programs. The Anna Lou Schaberg Professor of Practice in Education will join the School of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning in 2019. To learn more about the School of Education, contact Ed Kardos, senior director of development, at (804) 828-4692 or

A version of this article was previously published by VCU News.

Fundraising tournament brings together players and fans

Photo Kevin Morley, VCU University Marketing

The Richmond Values Tennis Tournament took place in January at the Thalhimer Tennis Center. Hosted by VCU Athletics and the Ram Athletic Fund and sponsored by Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC, the event paired local tennis players with VCU tennis team members for an afternoon of friendly coed doubles competition. In addition to the tournament and lunch reception, the day featured hourlong clinics for children and adults led by VCU tennis head coach Paul Kostin with assistance from players on the VCU men’s and women’s tennis teams. The youth clinic, a new addition to the event, attracted 40 participants, and 20 teams competed in the tournament. The event raised $30,000 toward the construction of a public indoor/outdoor tennis facility in Richmond, Virginia.

Chip and Connie Lacy with VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., at Commencement

Lacys honored at Commencement with Edward A. Wayne Medal

Photo Paul Lester Photography

Epitacio Arganza (B.F.A.’91/A) and Courtney Culbreath

Alumni, leadership meet in LA Nearly 100 VCU alumni and friends from the Los Angeles area gathered Feb. 21 at the city’s Bel-Air Country Club to meet VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and to learn about emerging news across the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. After remarks by President Rao, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Jay E. Davenport, CFRE, led a panel discussion featuring School of Medicine Dean Peter Buckley, M.D., and School of Business Dean Ed Grier that highlighted the new and exciting work occurring in both schools.

Longtime Virginia Commonwealth University volunteers and supporters Constance C. “Connie” Lacy and Linwood A. “Chip” Lacy were honored in December at VCU’s Commencement ceremony with the Edward A. Wayne Medal in recognition of their extraordinary service and generosity to the university. Chip Lacy is former CEO of Ingram Micro. He has served on numerous private and public company boards of directors, as well as on nonprofit boards, including the Massey Advisory Board. Connie Lacy is a retired nurse who has been an active volunteer on the Massey palliative care unit. The Lacys are graduates of the University of Virginia, where they also have been longtime supporters. The couple’s relationship with VCU began in 2007 with their initial commitment to Massey Cancer Center, which provided significant resources to further the mission of the center. As passionate advocates for cancer treatment and research, they have created multiple research and faculty support endowments. Their extraordinary generosity also extends to the School of Medicine, where they have been steadfast supporters of the work of Ken Kendler, M.D., at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. • 23

Development team welcomes new members Jamie Cooper Major gifts officer VCU Massey Cancer Center (804) 827-9486 Photo VCU Athletics

Marcus Evans (center) with Peggy Rosen and Sharon Darby

Donors, players and staff meet at men’s basketball dinner The Ram Athletic Fund hosted its annual Men’s Basketball Team Dinner in October at the Stuart C. Siegel Center’s E.J. Wade Arena. Nearly 200 RAF members attended the event, which enabled donors to preview the upcoming men’s basketball season. Emceed by the voice of Ram Radio, Wes McElroy, the evening began with remarks about the VCU family of fans, players, media, donors, coaches and staff. Vice President and Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin addressed the group, then guests enjoyed a steak dinner provided by Outback Steakhouse. Men’s basketball head coach Mike Rhoades (M.S.’02/E) capped off the night by providing insight into the team and the season schedule, individually introducing each player and staff member. He then spoke about this year’s competition, which included a trip to Maui, Hawaii, key home games and a tough conference schedule.

Shannon Gravitt (B.S.’99/GPA) Executive assistant, DAR vice president Office of Development and Alumni Relations (804) 827-0536

Thomas Maness Associate dean VCU School of Medicine (804) 827-4936

Anna Millsaps Development and event coordinator VCU School of Medicine (804) 628-3878 Vanessa Campbell Moore (M.Ed’17/E; M.B.A.’17/B)

Director, Ram Athletic Fund VCU Athletics (804) 827-1822

Laura J. Pond Development coordinator L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Campaign counter (as of May 1)

P.J. Shaver


$750M GOAL To learn more about the Make It Real Campaign for VCU, visit

24 • Impact

(804) 828-6706

Major gifts officer VCU Massey Cancer Center (804) 628-5258

“My scholarships give me the peace of mind to focus my energy on studying, participating in school activities and being the best well-rounded student I can be. My app, Shiri, could make sure that farmers in my native Africa never have to face another food crisis again.” At VCU, making an impact is what we do. But we can’t do it alone. That’s why we launched the Make It Real Campaign for VCU. How will you help us support people, fund innovations and enhance environments?

Make your impact at

an equal opportunity/affirmative action university

Tatenda Ndambakuwa

Virginia Commonwealth University Development and Alumni Relations Box 843042 Richmond, Virginia 23284-3042

“It’s truly an honor to hold the Doris B. Yingling Endowed Chair appointment. As our school celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to build on the solid foundation established by pioneering leaders like Dr. Yingling. I hope to advance our legacy of leadership in nursing education and research and thereby shape the future of our profession.” Jean Giddens, Ph.D., RN, FAAN

Professor and Dean, VCU School of Nursing, and Yingling Endowed Chair

Non Profit Org. U.S. Postage Paid Richmond, Virginia Permit No. 869

Impact volume 14  
Impact volume 14