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Powerof Personal Philanthropy Spring 2011

VCU V i r g i n i a

C o m m o n w e a l t h

U n i v e r s i t y


Powerof Personal Philanthropy Spring 2011

Inside this issue 5 Alumnus repays gift, supports Opportunity VCU 6 Pacesetting pledge paves way for pharmacy lab 7 Small gifts add up to a big impact, donors say 8 $1 million gift accelerates clinical trials process 9 Pollak Society members gather for exhibit talk 10 Education school welcomes endowed professor 11 Carpenter Foundation grant supports dance series 12 Fundraising group recognizes Markels with award 13 Altria award supports river research programs 14 Massey fund benefits breast cancer clinical trial 15 Campaign launches on heels of Final Four trip 15 Campaign gift honors one mother's inspiration

Editor: Melanie Irvin (B.S. ’96),, (804) 828-3975 Writer: Nan Johnson






Photo courtesy HKS Inc.

The Club Seat and Suite Project includes the addition of 200 premium seats, each with a balcony view of the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Siegel Center’s first-class facelift to add club venue A $3.5 million enhancement project is under way to add a club environment at the Virginia Commonwealth University Stuart C. Siegel Center for basketball fans, friends and new recruits. The Club Seat and Suite Project enhancements will provide a first-class experience for the university and local communities, said VCU Athletic Director Norwood Teague. “The enhancement project is a game changer for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the university,” Teague said. “It’s going to supply advantages that are significant.” Advantages include an enhanced game experience for basketball fans and a clublike venue for cross-campus entertaining events for alumni and friends. The project also provides a revenue stream from seat sales to help support scholarships and defray costs associated with student athletics, such as travel and equipment. “It’s going to be really extraordinary,” Teague said. “Any fan or alum who experiences it will be proud.” A new upscale recruiting environment, he said, will provide a museumlike space to display the history and tradition of VCU’s strong athletic programs through photos and trophies. Designed by HKS Inc., architects of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, the Club Seat and Suite Project will add 200 seats, each with a balcony view of the Verizon Wireless Arena. In addition, a new Founders Club will feature permanent bars and bar-top counter seating and will draw on Richmond’s architectural influences by incorporating exposed brick and other elements. A new University Suite will serve as an entertainment hub for donor events. Both men’s and women’s basketball office renovations also are a part of the project. Work will begin this summer with completion expected by November. “This is not only an athletics project, this is a VCU project,” Teague said. “Yes, this is an athletics building, but it will benefit the entire university. It excites me because it’s an area where we can raise money for the entire university.” The greater Richmond area also will benefit from the Club Seat and Suite Project.

“It’s going to be really extraordinary. Any fan or alum who experiences it will be proud.” – Norwood Teague

✫ see Siegel Center, continued on Page 4 Spring 2011 | 3

continued from Page 3 _______________________________

Photo Justin Calastine

Siegel Center,

Fans seated in the new club venue will enjoy a first-class view of sporting events such as VCU men’s basketball games.

“It’s staggering how many people from outside VCU come through the Siegel Center in a given year,” Teague said. “It’s not too small and not too big. We attract a lot of diverse events such as areawide high school graduations, concerts, tennis matches and conventions.” The new areas, available for community use, will provide a showcase for VCU athletics as well as for the university. Stuart C. Siegel, the building’s namesake and member of the VCU Board of Visitors, the VCU Health System Authority board of directors and the Executive Athletic Board, agrees. “The Siegel Center serves the entire community,” Siegel said. “It’s gone a long way toward putting a wonderful face on our university.” Siegel and his wife, Dawn, have pledged $500,000 to the project, which will be funded entirely by private donations. “Dawn shares my enthusiasm for this project. We’ve long been advocates of VCU athletics. It’s what attracts students and represents us well,” he said. Teague is thrilled at the opportunities these enhancements will provide, especially in the wake of the men’s basketball team’s recent history-making Final Four run. “The Club Seat and Suite Project will allow us to capitalize on our basketball success and further establish VCU as a nationally significant college basketball program,” Teague said. “The magnitude will be felt for years to come.” To learn more about the project, contact David Benedict, senior associate athletic director for development and external relations, at (804) 828-7474 or

“The Siegel Center serves the entire community. It’s gone a long way toward putting a wonderful face on our university.” – Stuart C. Siegel

4 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy

Campaign gift honors one mother’s inspiration In Prince Edward County’s gently rolling countryside, about an hour from Richmond, Va., sits the small community of Rice. Almost a straight shot to Virginia Commonwealth University’s MCV Campus by way of Route 360, the journey is a familiar one for those living in rural Southside Virginia. “MCV had a wonderful reputation in my community,” recalled Dr. L.W. Garnett (M.D. ’79; H.S. ’85). “People had a high regard for the hospital and placed their trust in its ability to handle complex and serious medical problems.” How fitting, then, that the boy with a curiosity for medical artifacts grew up to study at the venerable institution that he, his family and his community respected as the source for excellent health care. Garnett recalls a trip he made with his parents to the medical center, which served as the springboard for his early interest in medicine. To occupy her son while they waited for his father’s appointment to conclude, Garnett’s mother suggested a visit to the archives across the street. “There I saw historical aspects of MCV at the Tompkins-McCaw Library and the Museum of Confederacy and was fascinated to see for myself the institution I’d heard about all my life. It was an impressionable age.” Taking that tour at age 10, he said, “set the thought process in motion.” The experience, coupled with his mother’s encouragement and the medical school’s reputation, led Garnett to become an orthopaedic surgeon. He, in turn, set the example for his daughter Sarah (M.D. ’10) to follow in his footsteps as a member of the School of Medicine’s Class of 2010. Garnett is excited and proud that Sarah has decided to remain on campus for her radiology residency. Garnett had heard that future students would study in a new medical education building. At a luncheon hosted by Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine, “I was pleased to have the chance to see the detailed plans,” Garnett said. “The new school opens up a whole new opportunity of education for the future.” Garnett honored his mother’s memory through a generous $100,000 gift to the Dr. L.W. Garnett credits his mother, Byrd Wootton Garnett, for inspiring and encouragbuilding campaign. “She was an inspiration,” ing him to pursue a career in medicine. he said. His gift bolsters the $37 million privategifts component of the public-private partnership. The new building will provide instructional and simulation space and will allow for expanded enrollment. The building is slated to open in spring 2013. Garnett knows that his mother, a former teacher who helped shape the lives of many, would be pleased to be remembered through a gift to an innovative educational facility. “I’m proud of MCV’s history and heritage,” he said. “I appreciate my experience as a student and resident, and I’m grateful for the experience that Sarah is having. But I also recognize the importance of this new education building for propelling the medical school into the future. MCV needs this building, and I’m excited to be part of that.” Families with multigenerational ties to the medical school, such as the Garnetts, have an excellent opportunity to honor their families’ connections to the school through gifts to the new building. The Garnett family name will appear on the lobby’s donor wall as well as on a group classroom as a lasting tribute to an inspirational teacher and loving mother. To learn more about the Campaign for the School of Medicine, contact Tom Holland, associate dean of development for the school, at (804) 828-3800 or Spring 2011 | 5

Alumnus repays gift, supports Opportunity VCU

Photo courtesy Jay Paul

Internationally recognized furniture-maker Sam Forrest (B.S. ’63) has collected a world of memories over the years — from crossing the Atlantic twice as a solo sailor to teaching English in Guangzhou, China. One unforgettable moment was receiving a gift from Henry H. Hibbs, then-director of Richmond Professional Institute. “I got out of the Navy and was in school full time. I had three children,” recalled Forrest, who is a lifetime member of the VCU Alumni Association. “When I was a student, I ran out of money and didn’t know where to turn. I went to see President Hibbs, and he gave me $100. If he hadn’t done that for me, I don’t know what would have happened.” Alumnus Sam Forrest surprises VCU Alumni Association President Many students today Donna Dalton with an impromptu gift to Opportunity VCU. find themselves in similar financial situations. About 70 percent of full-time freshmen entering VCU apply for need-based financial aid. To help ease the burden, the VCU and MCV Alumni Associations launched Opportunity VCU in late 2009 with the goal of raising $50 million for student scholarships and fellowships across all academic units. So far, about $11.2 million has been raised. “Our two alumni associations saw the need to increase privately funded student financial support so we can provide essential funding for deserving students and add value for all alumni degrees,” said Donna Dalton (M.Ed. ’00), president of the VCU Alumni Association. “We invite all alumni to join us in helping the students of today and tomorrow.” Forrest knows the importance of financial assistance and is a longtime contributor to the university. “I’m getting older now, and I appreciate what VCU has done for me,” he said. After a successful career as a chief probation officer with the lowest recidivism rate among his peers, he left the field of social work and returned to school. “I had not known any other life before I returned to VCU. I took jewelry, ceramics and wood classes. As soon as I touched a piece of wood, I thought, ‘Well, this is it.’” His second career as a woodworking artist took him by surprise. “I didn’t know I could use my hands, and my life has never been the same since then. I was 31 when I discovered the talent. That makes twice that VCU has helped me.” At a special alumni association members-only event last fall, Forrest was inspired to pay back the loan he received from Hibbs to support the Opportunity VCU campaign and today’s students. “I always carry a $100 bill in my pocket. So I told the story and whipped out my wallet and gave the money back,” he said. Forrest also is a member of the VCU Heritage Society, which honors donors who have made provisions for the Monroe Park Campus in their estate plans. His bequest includes funding for music orchestration studies and lectureships in woodworking and furniture design in the School of the Arts and a lectureship in religious studies. “Sam has always been an active supporter of VCU,” said Thomas C. Burke (B.S. ’79, M.P.A. ’95), executive director of the VCU Foundation. “His current support coupled with his previous bequest indicates just how thoughtful and thorough he is. We are very fortunate to have his support both financially and in spirit.” For more information about Opportunity VCU, visit /opportunityvcu.html or contact Thomas C. Burke (B.S. ’79, M.P.A. ’95), executive director of the VCU Foundation, at (804) 828-3958 or 6 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy

Pacesetting pledge paves way for pharmacy lab Carthan F. “Sonny” Currin Jr. (B.S. ’59) has practiced pharmacy for more than 50 years. Today, as a compounding specialist, he’s helping to fill a need for the future of compound pharmacy education and research at Virginia Commonwealth University by making a $50,000 pledge to his alma mater. Just as personalized medicine serves patients based on their genetic profiles, prescription compounding provides medications not available in commercial form that are created for a patient’s individual needs. Currin’s gift supports the creation of a new compounding facility at the VCU School of Pharmacy. “When this is done, VCU will be on the cutting edge,” Currin said. “I think it’s the best pharmacy school in America and a great representation for pharmacy in the state.” Currin knows a thing or two about compounding labs. He and his son, Chris (B.S. ’95), opened Rx3 Pharmacy in Chester, Va., in 1995. It was the first accredited compounding pharmacy in the state. The practice of compounding is as old as pharmacy itself, with roots in ancient Greece. Though millions of prescriptions are compounded each year, many people are not familiar with the process. “Compound pharmacists take different chemicals and combine them into a product via a prescription that is written by a physician and formulated for a specific patient,” Currin explained. The result is a personalized prescription for a specific patient with a specific need. The School of Pharmacy’s new $1 million, glass-walled lab will be located on the fifth floor of the renovated Smith Building and will feature 10 individual compounding stations and space for teaching, research and continuing education for alumni certification. Advanced electives will be offered to students interested in developing a specialty in compounding and sterile and nonsterile product techniques. Plans are expected to be complete by the end of this year with construction to begin in 2015. When Currin relocated Rx3 Pharmacy to a larger space in 2009, he invited Victor A. Yanchick, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Pharmacy, to the grand opening. The two discussed the growth of compounding and the entrepreneurial benefits of the practice. Yanchick began to imagine the possibilities that adding a more sophisticated compounding program would bring for the school and the profession. He hopes not only to train students but also to offer practicing pharmacists the opportunity to return to campus to sharpen their skills and Carthan F. “Sonny” Currin Jr. (center), his family to prepare for compounding accreditation. and School of Pharmacy Dean Victor A. Yanchick The research component, he explained, celebrate the opening of Currin’s Rx3 Pharmacy in will differentiate VCU’s pharmacy program its new location. from others across the country. “The new lab will be a training facility and will cover the entire spectrum of compounding,” he said. “All schools teach basic compounding where students learn to make ointments, solutions or suppositories, but not to the extent that we can look at the product that we have compounded in terms of stability, effectiveness and potency.” Yanchick appreciates Currin’s generosity and leadership with the project. “It’s important because I think pharmacists today are going to survive through entrepreneurial activities such as this. We are always looking for ways to improve health care,” he said. “Compounding provides an added dimension that will be more important as we become more advanced in our knowledge of drugs and disease, especially from a personalized medicine point of view.” To learn more about the compounding lab or to make a gift to the School of Pharmacy, contact Ellen Leverich, director of development, at (804) 828-3016 or Spring 2011 | 7

Small gifts add up to a big impact, donors say Growing up in Roanoke, Va., Janet Childers Showalter (B.S. ’58) often spent time with a neighbor whose rheumatoid arthritis led her to use a wheelchair. During one of their visits, the conversation turned to young Janet’s aspirations for the future. “She asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and suggested I think about physical therapy,” Showalter remembered. Showalter’s mother, Violet, had trained to become a nurse, so pursuing a career in the medical field wasn’t entirely a new idea, but money was tight for the family. Remembering her friend, Showalter was determined to get her physical therapy degree. She began her studies at Mary Washington and finished at the Medical College of Virginia in 1958. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Sarah Showalter Mays (B.S. ’84) received her physical therapy degree from the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University. The Lewis and Violet Childers Memorial Late last year, Showalter and her husband, Scholarship in Physical Therapy honors Lee, endowed the Lewis and Violet Childers Janet Childers Showalter’s parents, who supported her education at VCU. Memorial Scholarship in Physical Therapy in tribute to her loving and supportive parents. The Showalters’ generous $150,000 gift will fund a scholarship in the VCU School of Allied Health Professions for one or more physical therapy students with strong academic credentials who face a significant personal challenge, including financial need. “There are so many people who are talented and want to pursue a career in physical therapy but aren’t able to do so because of financial reasons,” Showalter explained. “The economy is such that so many parents are losing jobs and students are graduating with such a debt. It’s very difficult.” The Department of Physical Therapy, which consistently ranks in the top 15 percent of doctoral programs, leverages scholarships in maintaining a high-caliber student body. “The generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Showalter allows us to continue to recruit talented and resourceful students into our program and maintain the outstanding reputation of our graduates,” said Thomas P. Mayhew (Ph.D. ’91), PT, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. The couple’s generous support of VCU also extends to the Massey Cancer Center. Through a recent $100,000 donation, they are helping to advance cancer research. “Cancer touches everyone in some way,” Lee Showalter said. “We have so many friends and family, people who are near and dear to us, who happen to be touched by cancer. We want to advance the understanding of what’s behind it and come up with a cure someday.” Their gift will help to further the center’s research on chronic lymphocytic leukemia. “We’re working on developing new strategies for the treatment of blood cancers,” said Dr. Steven Grant, associate director for translational research and Shirley Carter Olsson and Sture Gordon Olsson Endowed Chair in Oncology at the Massey Cancer Center. “It’s extremely important for the mission of Massey to have philanthropic support. The Showalters’ gift allows us to expand our work.” One of the messages the Showalters hope to convey through their generosity is that no gift is too small. “It doesn’t have to be a large amount because every little bit helps,” Janet Showalter said. “So many people think they don’t have enough money to give, but it all adds up.” To learn more about supporting the School of Allied Health Professions, contact Jessica Gurganus, senior director of development, at (804) 828-3269 or To learn more about the Massey Cancer Center, contact Molly Dean Bittner, campaign director, at (804) 827-0524 or 8 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy

$1 million gift accelerates clinical trials process Pam Kiecker Royall and Bill Royall are successful entrepreneurs with keen minds for business. As chairman of Royall & Company, a direct-marketing company for colleges and universities, Bill Royall built a business by understanding return on investment and the importance of efficiency in process. Pam Kiecker Royall, Ph.D., previously chaired the Department of Marketing in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business and now heads up Royall & Company’s research and issue analysis efforts. Both have an expertise in finding bottlenecks in business processes that result in inefficiencies that can delay progress. Introduced to Massey Cancer Center several years ago by a friend, the Royalls quickly appreciated the importance of Massey’s mission and developed an interest in directing their support toward lessening the time it takes to get new treatments through the often-cumbersome clinical trial process and to the patients who need them. “The idea that utilizing our business expertise in a way that could impact important advancement in cancer research was extremely compelling,” Bill Royall said. An initial gift in 2008 helped fund a new clinical trial and supported promising translational research, but the Royalls were not satisfied that the more global process of clinical trials was affected the way they hoped. Additional conversations with Dr. Gordon Ginder, director of the VCU Massey Cancer Center, and other Massey administrators presented more possibilities, Pam Monica Rao (left) and VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., welcome Kiecker Royall said. Pam Kiecker Royall, Ph.D., and Bill Royall into the VCU Founders’ Society, which honors donors who have made cumulative commit“Recent analysis showed ments of at least $100,000. that a few proposed changes could reduce key phases of the clinical trial life cycle from 3½ years to just 14 months,” she said. “This was a proposal we could get excited about!” Ginder appreciated the Royalls’ specific interest, which turned into a wonderful opportunity for Massey. “Our partnership enabled us to take a new look at our obstacles and think about ways we could reduce or eliminate them,” he said. The result was a $1 million gift from the Royalls to fund a new system called Accelerate Clinical Trials (ACT) Now for Cancer Research, which will support two new positions — an additional scientific writer to help investigators write and receive approval on clinical trial protocols and a clinical trials budget negotiator to help navigate issues associated with trial costs. “The two new staff positions will remove tremendous roadblocks for our researchers and allow them to focus on the science and turning that science into new ways to treat patients,” Ginder said. “ACT Now is already having the impact the Royalls desired.” The scientific writer has already been hired and, within weeks, was moving previously delayed trials through the system. “Our goal is the same as that of every supporter of Massey — to save lives and reduce suffering from cancer,” Bill Royall said. “We are thrilled to be able to contribute in a way that reflects our business model of working smarter to achieve goals.” To learn more about the Massey Cancer Center, contact Molly Dean Bittner, campaign director for Massey, at (804) 827-0524 or Spring 2011 | 9

Pollak Society members gather for exhibit talk Photo courtesy Terry Brown

The Pollak Society gathered in February at the art-filled home of members Freddie and Lawrence Gray to hear a talk on “The Nameless Hour,” an exhibit at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts’ Anderson Gallery. Guests also heard remarks from Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU, and Susan Roth, senior associate dean of the School of the Arts. “The Nameless Hour” exhibit includes a sculpAshley Kistler (M.A. ’85), director of the tural installation of Stephen Cartwright’s “Light.“ Anderson Gallery, spoke of the exhibit’s concept of reverie, while Guggenheim Fellow Stephen Vitiello, associate professor in the Department of Kinetic Imaging and internationally celebrated sound artist, described his process in creating “The Sound of Red Earth.” In addition to providing critical unrestricted support to the nation’s top-ranked public school of arts and design, members of the School of the Arts’ Pollak Society receive invitations to a variety of behind-the-scenes events throughout the year. For more information about the Pollak Society, contact Hannah Neilson, assistant director of development for the School of the Arts, at (804) 828-9182 or

New staff members join development team Sue Acri

Executive Director of Development and External Relations Massey Cancer Center (804) 828-1452 Formerly senior vice president, healthcare for Ketchum Fundraising Services

Emily Kasky (B.S.’10)

Development Assistant School of the Arts (804) 828-3592

Hannah Neilson

Assistant Director of Development School of the Arts (804) 828-9182 Formerly assistant director of annual giving, University of Richmond

Julia Ratliff

Development Assistant School of Nursing (804) 828-0724 Formerly administrative specialist, VCU School of Medicine admissions office 10 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy

Education school welcomes endowed professor Dyslexia research means a lot to Ruth and Louis Harris. After their son exhibited persistent trouble with reading, writing and spelling in the third grade, Ruth Harris, who has a master’s degree in special education, dedicated her life to helping others with learning disabilities. At a fall 2010 ceremony, with her husband and son looking on, Ruth Harris draped a black and gold ribbon holding a bronze medallion — emblematic of a Virginia Commonwealth University endowed professorship — around the neck of Paul J. Gerber, Ph.D., a professor in the VCU School of Education’s departments of Special Education and Disability Policy and Foundations of Education. The ceremony marked the investiture of Gerber as the Ruth Harris Professor of Dyslexia Studies. The endowed professorship, the first in the School of Education, was created with a generous gift from the Harrises. The endowed fund will support Gerber’s research and work with doctoral students pursuing careers in the field and will sponsor an annual lecture by nationally prominent researchers in the area of dyslexia education and related fields. “It is both a crowning achievement and tremendous honor to be recognized for my contributions to the field of dyslexia research,” Gerber said. “This is my life’s work.” During the past 33 years, Gerber has written an array of chapters and articles and has co-authored four books in the area of adults with learning disabilities, one of which was chosen as a top-20 resource for libraries by the American Library Association. The Harrises are longtime supporters of VCU. In addition to the School of Education, they have made gifts to the schools of Medicine and the Arts and the Massey Cancer Center, among others. Louis Harris is a faculty member and former chairman of the VCU Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. To learn more about the School of Education, contact Magnus H. Johnsson (M.P.A. ’10, Cert. ’10), executive director of external affairs and development, at (804) 827-1363 or

School of Education interim Dean Michael Davis, Ph.D. (left), and VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., join donor Ruth Harris, Paul J. Gerber, Ph.D., and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beverly J. Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., at the investiture of Gerber as the Ruth Harris Professor of Dyslexia Studies.

Spring 2011 | 11

Photo courtesy Kevin Schindler

Medical school dean gives update to D.C. alumni

Dr. Charles H. McKown Jr. (M.D. ’60) (left), vice president for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at Marshall University; Louis De Felice, Ph.D., professor of physiology and biophysics at VCU; and Dr. Sanjay Sood (M.D. ’91) catch up at the D.C. event.

Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, hosted more than 40 guests at an alumni gathering in Washington, D.C., in November. Held in conjunction with the Association of American Medical Colleges’ annual meeting, faculty and staff from the medical school had the chance to share the latest news from the MCV and Inova campuses with alumni from the D.C. region. During the event, Strauss and his wife, Cathy, made a $10,000 gift to the Campaign for the School of Medicine, which is helping to fund a new educational building for the school. The building will allow for increased enrollment and is set to open in spring 2013.

Carpenter Foundation grant supports dance series Photo courtesy Sarah Ferguson

The 2011 Virginia Commonwealth University Dance NOW concerts in mid-February featured a reconstruction of “Shelter,” a National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpiece choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder and artistic director of Urban Bush Women. The VCU Department of Dance and Choreography presented the local version of “Shelter” through generous grants from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Zollar choreographed “Shelter,” a dance that unflinchingly examines issues of homelessness and VCU dance majors perform a reconecologic disaster, in 1988. The version staged at VCU struction of “Shelter,” a program made possible by grants. considered the same themes through the lens of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. VCU dance majors performed the work for a series of sold-out audiences. The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the VCU Department of Dance and Choreography, providing generous funding for student scholarships and the guest artist program. 12 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy

VCU names new vice president for development John I. Blohm has been named the new vice president for development and alumni relations for Virginia Commonwealth University. He started Feb. 25. Previously, Blohm served as vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. His selection followed a national search. He also serves as chief advancement officer of VCU and the VCU Medical Center. “This is a key position at VCU given the need to diversify and broaden our resources to address declining state support and to strengthen VCU’s academic profile and ensure student success,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU. “VCU’s emphasis must be on securing resources for faculty recruitment, endowed chairs, scholarships for motivated students and other emerging needs at a national caliber university.” Blohm replaces Peter L. Wyeth, who had served as VCU’s vice president for advancement since 1992. John I. Blohm “I am confident in John’s leadership, relationshipbuilding and fundraising expertise,” Rao said. “Already during his short time at VCU, there is strong support for one of the nation’s most experienced, energetic and creative development leaders. We are excited to have John as part of the VCU team.” Contact Vice President John I. Blohm at (804) 828-0080 or

Fundraising group recognizes Markels with award

Photo courtesy Fran Householder

At National Philanthropy Day festivities in November 2010, the Central Virginia Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored longtime Virginia Commonwealth University benefactors Kathie and Steve Markel. The Markels were nominated by VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., for the association’s Individual Philanthropist of the Year Award. The Markels are major supporters of the VCU School of Business, the Massey Cancer Center and the School of the Arts. In addition, they both give freely of their time in volunteer capacities to the university. Other awardees that day were: ■ Corporate Philanthropist of the Year: Altria Group Inc. ■

Foundation Philanthropist of the Year: Richmond Memorial Health Foundation

Kathie and Steve Markel receive the 2010 Individual Philanthropist of the Year Award.

Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy: William “Bill” Boinest

Spirit of Giving: Dr. Thomas (M.D. ’57) and Barbara Walker

Volunteer of the Year: Pamela Reynolds

Youth Philanthropist of the Year: Bailey Bridge Middle School Trooper Team

Spring 2011 | 13

Pharmacy scholarships honor alumnus, student Scholarships in memory of alumnus Paul Heron (Pharm.D. ’09) and student Neil Van Pelt, who was a member of the School of Pharmacy’s Class of 2012, have been endowed in the school. The school was saddened to lose both a young alumnus and a student last year. Heron, 26, died March 19, 2010, in a car crash. He had been employed as a pharmacist for a Kroger Scholarships established by family and friends create a legacy for Neil Van Pelt (left) and Paul Heron. Pharmacy in Portsmouth, Va. Van Pelt, 24, died in a car crash June 16, 2010. He was a rising third-year Pharm.D. student and had been working as an intern at a Rite Aid Pharmacy in Midlothian, Va. Heron and Van Pelt’s families and friends thought one of the best ways to honor their loved ones was to create a legacy for them through scholarships that will help other students achieve their career dreams. Fundraising activities for the Paul W. Heron Memorial Scholarship ranged from a benefit golf tournament to a neighborhood lemonade stand set up by Heron’s younger brother, James Jennings. Heron’s stepfather, Tim Jennings, said the golf tournament will be an annual event to continue celebrating Heron’s life and to help perpetuate the endowment. Rite Aid Pharmacy jump-started the drive for the Neil Van Pelt Memorial Scholarship. The Class of 2012 raised the remainder of the initial endowment fund via donations and activities such as an on-campus brunch and a “Minute to Win It” competition. “This will be a living memorial to Neil, a gift that keeps on giving to the students and to the school,” said Ashley Savage, president of the Class of 2012. To learn more about scholarships in the School of Pharmacy, contact Ellen Leverich, director of development for the school, at (804) 828-3016 or

Altria award supports river research programs The Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University has received $90,000 from Altria Group Inc. in support of programs and activities that involve K-12 students, their teachers and VCU students in activities focused on water quality of the rivers and wetlands in the greater Richmond area. The grant provides opportunities for students to Participants in the programs will experience hands-on wetland and river research be engaged in hands-on learning at the Rice Center. and research activities through a variety of day-, week- and yearlong programs. Students will be involved in studies on Atlantic sturgeon, water quality along the James River, the ability of wetlands to remove excess nutrients from waterways and the importance of the invertebrates living in our rivers. A weeklong summer workshop for teachers will help them develop new and exciting learning activities for students. All participants in these programs will come away with a better understanding of the sustainable use of our water resources. 14 | The Power of Personal Philanthropy

Massey fund benefits breast cancer clinical trial

Photo courtesy Fran Householder

A generous gift from Katherine Furlong Coudriet and David K. Easlick Jr. has established the Katherine Furlong Coudriet Clinical Trial Fund at the VCU Massey Cancer Center. The fund will support a Phase I clinical trial that will test the combination therapy of pemetrexed and sorafenib for recurrent breast cancer. Pemetrexed was co-discovDr. Gordon Ginder (left), director of the VCU Massey Cancer Center, ered by Massey’s Richard meets with David K. Easlick Jr. and Katherine Furlong Coudriet, who established a fund to support a clinical trial led by Massey’s Moran, Ph.D., and has been Paul Dent, Ph.D. shown to be effective in combating lung cancer. Moran has recently collaborated with Paul Dent, Ph.D., the Universal Corporation Professor in Cancer Cell Signaling at Massey, whose research has resulted in breakthrough treatments for liver cancer using sorafenib. Preclinical testing at Massey by Dent has shown that the combination of the two drugs is extremely effective in killing highly aggressive triple negative breast cancer cells and other tumor types. The Katherine Furlong Coudriet Clinical Trial Fund will help expedite the process that will make the clinical trial available to patients this year.

Campaign launches on heels of Final Four trip The Virginia Commonwealth University Rams men’s basketball team recently completed the greatest season in school history, going from the First Four to the Final Four! Those three weeks in March helped VCU capture the attention of the entire country and expand its national prominence. Now’s your chance to support our team by making a gift in Our time. Right now. the First Four to the Final Four campaign … by making a gift ending in 4 ($44 or $104 or whatever amount you choose!) to support VCU Athletics or any VCU program to show your pride in our team’s accomplishments. Gifts can be made online at The campaign was launched in the days preceding the Final Four game. To date, more than $6,000 has been raised. The First Four to the Final Four campaign came on the heels of the $16 for the Sweet 16 campaign, which lasted about two weeks and raised about $6,000. During the NCAA Tournament, about 500 new donors made gifts to VCU. “We have the greatest fans in the country and I’m glad that they were able to join us during this run,” coach Shaka Smart said. “Not only has the world seen what the VCU basketball program is all about over the past couple weeks, they’ve seen how great our fans are, which is great.” For more information, contact Alex Moore (M.S.’09/E), director of stewardship for VCU Athletics, at (804) 828-6692 or visit Spring 2011 | 15

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Power of Personal Philanthropy - Spring 2011  

Power of Personal Philanthropy - Spring 2011

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