The fall semester at VCU has brought more than 8,000 new students into our Ram Family, one of our largest incoming classes. I expect it will also be one of our most engaged.
Beginning this fall, every student at VCU will complete an experiential learning requirement as part of their undergraduate curriculum, moving what they learn in the classroom and discover in their labs and clinics into the community to heighten their learning and to help those who need them. The REAL experience, short for Relevant Experiential and Applied Learning, will become a trademark for student life and education at VCU and further boosts our commitment to the city of which we are a part.
VCU’s founding mission, as chartered by the Wayne Commission, states specifically that the university should address the needs of our urban community through education, research, service and clinical care. Indeed, in the 50 years since our founding, our urban region has become our focus, and we have strived to be a resource that helps move Greater Richmond forward more equally for all. In fact, our distinctiveness as a university lies in our historic link of professional education and medical practice with the liberal arts and sciences, all seamlessly integrated into the fabric of our community. And so we commit to educational excellence and access through innovative, engaging and real-world learning experiences that positively affect communities in Virginia and beyond.
My vision is that, as a leading national urban public research university, VCU and its academic health science center will be distinguished by the integrated strength of our innovative and engaged learning, collaborative research and exceptional patient care, guided by our commitment to making a difference in the community.
In fulfilling this mission, some of the most important things we can do are to ensure that we have the resources to succeed and to be certain that those resources align with our priorities. To that end, I am pleased that our Make It Real Campaign for VCU is on track to meet or exceed its $750 million goal by June 30, 2020. We have already crossed the $500 million mark, and last year we received more than 30,000 gifts for the first time. That included a record 11,705 gifts from alumni, thanks to the continuing efforts of our annual giving program.
While, thanks to donors like you, we are ahead of the trend line for our campaign, we recognize that there is still a long way to go. I am pleased we have a new leader who will help us complete that work. Later this month, Jay Davenport will begin as vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, joining VCU from Wake Forest University. His appointment follows a national search in which he stood out as an experienced development professional with the vision and drive to elevate further the success of our development and alumni relations efforts. I am excited to work with him to deepen our connections with our alumni and friends like you.
Of course, all we do is possible only because we have friends like you, who care deeply and support us fully. Thank you for your continuing commitment to VCU. Thank you for helping us make it real.
Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health