Arts: Spotlight on music alumna Dawn Henry

Dawn Henry

Dawn Henry

Dawn Henry (M.M.’98/A) grew up in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, and began playing clarinet at age 10. While attending VCU for her master’s degree, she auditioned and was selected for the U.S. Air Force Band. Henry is now chief musician for the U.S. Navy Band.

Read more in the Navy Band’s newsletter, Fanfare.

Social Work: Associate professor honored

SSW shin-sunny-140326_276_aj_srVCU School of Social Work associate professor Sunny Shin, Ph.D., was awarded the 2015 Society for Social Work and Research Excellence in Research Award for his article, “Exposure to childhood neglect and physical abuse and developmental trajectories of heavy episodic drinking from early adolescence into young adulthood.”

The award was presented during the SSWR 19th Annual Conference, 4:30-6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17,  in New Orleans.

Pharmacy: Greetings from the dean

Dean Joseph T. DiPiro

Dean Joseph T. DiPiro

Message from the dean:

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that it has been six months since I joined VCU as the dean of the School of Pharmacy. I have been truly honored by the warmth and confidence with which I have been greeted. MCV and VCU alumni as well as faculty and students are a committed and passionate group of people, and Cecily and I are delighted to be among you.

Thank you for the support you have given the school over the past year.  Your contributions have really made a difference. We distributed $700,000 in scholarships to Pharm.D. students this winter. Scholarship dollars reward our best and brightest students and help us to recruit the most competitive applicants.

We have also been growing the faculty. Contributions to Vic Yanchick’s retirement gala have helped to create a professorship in geriatric pharmacy, which will enhance our already successful geriatric pharmacy program. We are also interviewing for a director of the Center for Compounding Practice and Research and hope to have an innovative leader directing that initiative in the near future.  Growth in funded research and the graduate program has created the need for a dean of research and graduate programs, and that search is underway. Hopefully, it will be filled in the very near future.

I am really pleased to share with you that VCU was awarded the 2014 C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award for the Pharmacist Collaborative Care and Outreach in the Community program in the School of Pharmacy. This national award is presented annually by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in recognition of outstanding community outreach and engagement partnership efforts by a four-year public university.  PCOC initiatives are integrated with service-learning courses, advanced pharmacy practice experiences, electives and interprofessional education experiences and demonstrate the immediate impact our faculty and students are having on the Richmond community.

Much of my focus over the next few years will be on growth in private philanthropy, and I will need your help. We need to secure funding for endowed professorships and chairs to grow key programs. I will focus particularly on pharmacy practice transformation as well as drug discovery and medical chemistry, clinical translational sciences, health systems and outcomes, and pharmaceutical drug development.

VCU School of Pharmacy has everything that is expected of a top pharmacy program, starting with faculty members who are among the best in the world and leaders in their clinical and scientific disciplines. I plan to do all that I can to enhance the quality of education and scholarship in the School of Pharmacy. I hope you consider joining me in this effort.

Joseph T. DiPiro, Pharm.D.
Dean, VCU School of Pharmacy
Archie O. McCalley Chair

Nursing: Alumna named Collins-Teefey Distinguished Professor

Pamela Parsons, Ph.D.

Pamela Parsons, Ph.D.

Pamela Parsons (M.S.‘84/N; Cert.‘92/GNP; Ph.D.‘04/N), clinical associate professor and director of practice and community engagement in the Department of Family and Community Health Nursing, has been appointed the Judith B. Collins and Joseph M. Teefey Distinguished Professor at the VCU School of Nursing. The Collins-Teefey Distinguished Professorship was established to honor Judith B. Collins, M.S., RN, WHNP, FAAN (Cert.’75/N), for her distinguished career and lifelong commitment to women’s health and leadership on the faculty of the VCU School of Nursing, and her husband, Joseph Teefey, for his professional and personal commitment to health care, financial contributions to and leadership in establishing the distinguished professorship. An investiture ceremony is planned for the spring.

Parsons is currently the project director of the HRSA Nursing Education, Practice, Quality and Retention-funded Richmond Health and Wellness Program for Older Adults. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Old Dominion University and a master’s in nursing, gerontological nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate and Ph.D. in nursing from the VCU School of Nursing.

Save the dates: Battle for the Capital 2015

B4C FB coverMark your calendar for the third annual Battle for the Capital!

Help your alma mater defeat our crosstown A-10 rivals, the University of Richmond Spiders, in our annual alumni giving challenge.

This year, the contest is simple. One week. One battle.

All credit card gifts (minimum: $5) made online or through the Gold Line student calling program between Feb. 18 and Feb. 25 count for the Battle for the Capital. If you’ve made a pledge over the phone through the Gold Line calling program, take this opportunity to fulfill your pledge online now to make your gift count, too.

Learn more at 

Business: VCU Brandcenter at forefront of design movement

Advertising veteran Andrew LeVasseur will lead the VCU Brandcenter’s new experience design discipline, which focuses on the industry’s shift from brand communications to brand experiences.

The XD track, offered within the Brandcenter’s master’s program in the VCU School of Business, is accepting applications for fall 2015. The unique curriculum concentrates on the conception, design, prototyping and building of brand experiences that push the envelope of what is technologically possible.

“What an amazing time for our industry as we move from the design of ads to the design of experiences,” LeVasseur said. “I love design. I love the transformative nature of great design. I love that with applied design thinking, we can solve real business problems. And with applied design craft, we can make our collective experiences better.”

Students in the XD track will benefit from a newly appointed experience design studio space at the Brandcenter where they will be able to design, prototype and test their ideas on site.

The industry — including Brandcenter board members Rick Webb and Jeff Steinhour — has already expressed its support.

“The experience design track is the bridge between interaction design and branding,” said Webb, a writer, entrepreneur and investor. “It’s the digital version of planning. The Brandcenter implementing this track is a massive step in ensuring that solid brand management doesn’t lose its way in a world of infinite touch points. That sounds like jargon, but how about this: nerds plus brand in one employee. Beat that.”

Read more.

Business: Transforming students into responsible citizens

Manika Avasthi encourages her colleagues in the VCU School of Business to incorporate service learning into their curriculums, which results in a win-win situation for everyone involved, she says.

Avasthi teaches organizational behavior — a field of study devoted to understanding and explaining the attitude and behavior of individuals and groups in organizations — and has included a service-learning component in her class since fall 2013.

“It gives students an opportunity to put into action the various life skills such as persuasion, influence, decision-making and creativity, motivation, negotiation and teamwork,” Avasthi said. “It also helps them to understand and address community-related issues.”

Moreover, the community gets an additional workforce full of energy and enthusiasm while the School of Business provides an active learning environment to the students that encourages creative thinking and creative problem-solving.

“In doing so, we take a step towards realizing the university’s commitment to ‘sustainable, university-community partnerships that enhance the educational, economic and cultural vitality of the communities VCU serves in Virginia and around the world,’” Avasthi said, referencing Quest for Distinction, the university’s strategic plan.

This past semester, Avasthi’s two sections of MGMT 319 had 95 students working in 16 teams. Together the group raised $11,130.88 for Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Alzheimer’s Association and VCU School of Business Foundation, providing 1,950 hours of community service in the process.

Each class functions like an organization, with a CEO (the class instructor), senior managers (teaching assistants) and team managers and members. The senior managers act as liaisons between the instructor, team managers and partnering organizations.

Read more.

Medicine: Family celebrates a 101st birthday with gift

Clelia Johnson turned 101 in September. She remembers clearly coming to work at the Medical College of Virginia soon after high school.

She had “the audacity,” she said, to ask the president of the college at the time, William Sanger, Ph.D., to speak at her medical secretary graduation. That contact led to her first job and then to a more than 60-year career working in medical pathology.

She remembers the very first day of work, being assigned to assist with an autopsy in the dirt-floored morgue of the Egyptian Building. She continued working for Paul Kimmelstiel, M.D., for most of her career.

In the early days, Johnson was willing to work for no salary at all, but soon she was earning $75 a month. She gave her mother and her church each $25. With the remaining $25, she saved enough to install electricity in the Goochland County, Virginia, home where she was born (and still lives), as well as send her sister, Eleanor Johnson Tabb, to Smithdeal Massey Business College.

Over time, Johnson built a reputation in the pathology lab, where she deftly prepared tissue samples for microscopic inspection. She became so good at it that she trained others in the procedure. She said she would enjoy “seeing the technology of how it’s done now” and hopes to take a tour of the laboratory soon.

Johnson firmly believes that MCV changed her life, and she wants to help others pursue their medical careers. So when her family searched for a creative and meaningful way to mark her 101st birthday recently, they thought of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

With a family commitment of $50,000, including an inaugural gift of $10,000 from Tabb, her loved ones established the Clelia M. Johnson Endowed Scholarship. Once the fund hits its $50,000 goal, an annual award will be made to a deserving VCU medical student to reduce debt burden.

“Clelia sacrificed a lot for me, and I wanted to do something to honor her now,” Tabb said.

Through their gift, the family is participating in the School of Medicine’s 1838 Campaign, which aims to increase the number and size of scholarships to give the school a competitive edge in recruiting top students, rewarding student excellence and reducing the burden of debt that has become an inescapable part of choosing a career in medicine.

Clelia Johnson’s name will be displayed on the donor wall in the school’s McGlothlin Medical Education Center.

“Even at 101, Clelia still has the same zest for adventure she has always had,” says her cousin, Ben Johnson, an avid glider pilot who introduced her to his passion. She has traveled the world and now has three glider flights under her belt since she turned 95.

She describes it this way: “It’s just like roaming around in heaven!”

To learn more about the 1838 Campaign in the School of Medicine, contact Tom Holland, associate dean for development, at 804-828-4800 or

Allied Health: Shoe drive needs your help

AHP shoe driveShoes4Kids has distributed more than 6,000 pairs of new athletic shoes and socks to underprivileged children in conjunction with the American Physical Therapy Association’s NEXT conference. The shoe drive allows the APTA to give back to the community that hosts the national conference as well as encourages physical activity in children around the nation. Only one school in the nation does this each year. This year, VCU Department of Physical Therapy students have the privilege of running the campaign!

The NEXT conference will take place in National Harbor, Maryland, in June. The shoe drive event will be held at New Hope Housing in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.

VCU School of Allied Health Professions’ Department of Physical Therapy is now accepting both monetary donations and NEW athletic shoes and socks of both genders and all sizes (kids and adults). The shoes and socks will be brought to Maryland in June. Please send donations to the Physical Therapy Department, West Hospital basement, P.O. Box 980224.