News from Development and Alumni Relations

Major announcement: Enterprise CRM chosen

Marti Heil

Marti Heil

Many colleagues are talking about the rigorous RFP process that Development and Alumni Relations and VCU Technology Services have been leading over these past six months to select a replacement for our 30-year-old database — an enterprise CRM (constituent relationship management) fundraising database solution. I am excited to announce that the university has finalized a contract with Blackbaud to purchase the Blackbaud eCRM as the database for VCU DAR.

Blackbaud eCRM is a robust and comprehensive solution that combines all the functionality and features required by a complex fundraising operation like VCU’s. Blackbaud eCRM is one of the leading providers in our industry and is used by institutions such as Yale University, Ohio State University, University of Georgia, University of Michigan, UNC-Chapel Hill and Indiana University. This product will allow VCU not only to improve our fundamental business processes but also to enhance all fundraising and universitywide constituent management.

I would like to thank the members of the selection committee for their tireless effort: Jackie Colbert, Alex Henson, Gordon McDougall, Samantha Marrs and Lauren Shiver. The next several weeks will be spent finalizing the project timeline and preparing for Blackbaud team to be on-site and to begin the 12- to 15-month conversion. To learn more, please review information about the project on our website.

New leadership team
I am pleased to announce two recent additions to our DAR leadership team.

Christopher Ritrievi recently started as senior associate vice president for campaign leadership and constituent relations. As senior AVP, Chris serves as campaign director and works closely with deans, development directors and other senior leaders in portfolio management. Chris previously worked in fundraising at institutions including Princeton, Stanford and Michigan State. Most recently, he helped to plan a $1 billion campaign at Indiana University’s Bloomington Campus. He holds an M.B.A. from Lehigh University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton.

Henry Davis III, CPA, joins us as the new director of budget and finance. Henry most recently worked at GRTC Transit System where, as CFO and controller, he was responsible for a $47 million annual budget. Henry has a degree in commerce and accounting from the University of Virginia, and he joins our team at a key point in our campaign budget planning.


Marti K.S. Heil
Vice President
Development and Alumni Relations

P.S.: I hope you will join VCU Alumni as we welcome the Class of 2018 to campus at the annual Ram Spirit Walk on Aug. 19. Learn more.
By the numbers: July 1-June 15
*Complete end-of-fiscal year numbers were not available yet, but we did not want to delay our announcement.

  • $61.6 million raised toward goal of $70.3 million
  • 10,625 active, dues-paying members of VCU Alumni
  • 10,474 alumni donors
  • $8.2 million raised from alumni donors

Efforts by the Gold Line call center (annual fund) resulted in:

  • 4,464 new gift and pledges for a total of $361,803
  • 1,859 first-time donors making a pledge or gift
  • 36 percent of all Gold Line gifts made via credit card
  • 851,000 dials or attempts

Giving highlights
* Significant gifts and pledges recorded in the past quarter include:

  • The Beverly J. Warren Scholarship was established through gifts and pledges of more than $115,000 from the VCU community in honor of Provost Beverly J. Warren, who left VCU to become the 12th president of Kent State University. Read more.
  • Marty Johnson, M.D. (H.S.’80/M), and Olinda Young (B.S.’75/E; M.P.A.’81/H&S), donated to VCU a Sefer Torah, a powerful symbol and moving presence in Jewish worship and community life. It will be held and safeguarded by the VCU Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives. Read more.
  • The Children’s Hospital Foundation Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research was established in the Massey Cancer Center and will be used to attract and retain scientists or physician-scientists whose focus relates to pediatric cancer research.
  • Through a $500,000 gift from HCA, the HCA Distinguished Executive in Residence Professorship was established in the School of Allied Health Professions’ Department of Health Administration. Each year, one or more distinguished active or retired industry executives will be selected to serve as the Executive in Residence for a period of one to four weeks.

Alumni highlights

  • VCU Alumni conducted its inaugural annual meeting and a leaders’ colloquium in May.
  • At spring Commencement, VCU Alumni welcomed our newest graduates and their families, distributing more than 5,000 goodie bags and offering a “selfie” station.
  • In April, VCU Alumni celebrated Alumni Month with more than 60 activities and events, including Rams Night Out, Monroe Scholars Book and Author Luncheon and a winery tour.
  • Also during Alumni Month, more than 630 alumni and guests came to campus for the annual Reunion Weekend. MCV Campus alumni who are graduates of 1964 and before and those who graduated in a year ending in 4 or 9 were invited back, along with all RPI alumni and members of the African-American Alumni Council. See pictures from the weekend. Save the date for next year’s Reunion: April 17-19, 2015
  • This year’s Rams at Work program saw more than 175 boxes of VCU spirit items shipped to alumni in their workplaces throughout the country.
  • VCU Alumni kept busy in March, too, hitting the road for the A-10 and NCAA tournaments and hosting events in NYC and San Diego. Regional chapters nationwide threw watch parties for local alumni to cheer on the Rams.

Event highlights

  • Sixty-one Virginia Commonwealth University faculty were invested in endowed professorship and chair positions at a May ceremony at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. About 300 guests, including donors, faculty, friends and family, gathered to recognize their accomplishments and to thank generous donors for their support.
  • More than 350 Virginia Commonwealth University scholarship donors and student recipients gathered in February 2014 for the 15th annual Monroe Park Campus Endowed Scholarship Dinner at The Jefferson Hotel. Hosted by the VCU Foundation, the School of Business Foundation and the School of Engineering Foundation, the event brought students and donors together in an atmosphere of gratitude and celebration. See photos from the event.
  • The MCV Foundation hosted a capacity crowd of 390 at the ninth annual Scholarship Brunch in February bringing together donors of named scholarships and their respective scholars. See photos from the event.
  • The MCV Society gathered for a reception in April at Historic Tredegar. This annual event recognized all donors who have made planned gifts to benefit the MCV Campus.
  • The Shining Knight Gala, held March 29, highlighted Candi Spraggins and her team of caregivers. The gala raised $143,000 to support the Injury and Violence Prevention Program at the VCU Level 1 Trauma Center.
  • The 2014 Massey Challenge powered by HDL, Inc. culminated at this year’s Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k presented by MARTIN’S on March 29. More than 3,000 participants ran, walked, or cheered to raise funds and awareness for research at VCU Massey Cancer Center in Massey’s largest annual fundraiser, raising nearly $500,000 this year.

Pharmacy: Dean accepts MCV Foundation’s Irby Award

William Kotti (right) congratulates Dean Victor Yanchick.

William Kotti (right) congratulates Dean Victor Yanchick.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s MCV Foundation has presented its 2014 Robert Irby Award for MCV Campus Faculty Volunteer to School of Pharmacy Dean Victor A. Yanchick.

The award was established in 2001 to honor the memory of Robert Irby, a rheumatologist who was as devoted to securing financial support for the MCV Campus as he was to his patients and colleagues. The award was presented May 12 at the MCV Foundation Board of Trustees’ annual dinner at the Country Club of Virginia.

Sheldon Retchin (H.S.’79/M), senior vice president for health sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System, introduced Yanchick and made the award. During the dean’s 18-year tenure, Retchin noted, the VCU School of Pharmacy’s enrollment, research and community outreach all have expanded.

“Under his leadership and foresight,” Retchin said, “the school not only made the curricular transition but restructured, updated its facilities and technology and expanded its reach into both Charlottesville and Northern Virginia to allow for the growth of both faculty and the student body.”

Read more.

News from Development and Alumni Relations

It’s great to be at VCU!

Marti Heil

Marti Heil

I am delighted to now call Virginia Commonwealth University and Richmond my home. I have spent my life in the Midwest, and I am excited to finally be here. VCU is truly a special place. And that’s why I embarked on this new adventure.

Since arriving on campus in mid-September, I have received such a warm welcome, reinforcing the impressions I formed during my visits this spring and summer. VCU is a university on the move, embedded in a community made up of amazing people who are passionate about their work.

Together, we can build on the wonderful philanthropic successes VCU has already enjoyed. I look forward to working with the great team of faculty, staff, alumni, donors and volunteers to help VCU become a Top 50 public research institution. I am grateful to participate during such an exciting time in the life of VCU.

Best wishes,

Marti K. S. Heil
Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

By the numbers: July 1-Nov. 1

  • $16.1 million raised toward goal of $70.3 million
  • Efforts by the Gold Line call center (annual fund) resulted in:
    • 1,568 new gifts and pledges
    • Pledge rate of 23 percent (goal is 25 percent)
    • Average pledge of $82.18
    • 338,576 phone calls to alumni
    • 534 first-time donors in FY14 vs. 370 at the same time last year
    • Raised $128,000 in first year of program
    • 60 VCU students earning an on-campus, paying position
  • 11,026 active, dues-paying members of VCU Alumni
  • 2,998 alumni donors vs. 1,689 alumni donors this time last year

Giving highlights

  • On the MCV Campus, three new chairs, four new research funds and nine new scholarships were created as a result of endowment gifts in the last quarter.
  • Three spaces were named on the MCV Campus as a result of gifts in the last quarter.
  • A $1 million gift from local businessman and VCU benefactor Sam Kornblau renamed the School of Business’ Real Estate Program to the Kornblau Center for Real Estate. Learn more.
  • At its celebration gala, the School of Nursing announced the successful completion of the Cabaniss Leadership Challenge, a $4 million campaign. Learn more.
  • VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Research For Life campaign has raised $84 million toward a goal of $100 million. Learn more.
  • The VCU Athletics Practice Complex has commitments of $10.7 million toward a goal of $14.5 million. Learn more.
  • The Institute for Contemporary Art campaign is at $23 million toward a goal of $34 million. Learn more.
  • Read more gifts at work articles in the latest edition of the Power of Personal Philanthropy.

Alumni highlights

  • The VCU Alumni Association and the MCV Alumni Association formally adopted revised articles of incorporation and bylaws to create the new VCU Alumnialliance of constituent organizations (academic, geographic and shared interest). Learn more.
  • VCU Alumni elected its first board of governors and its first president, alumnus W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., D.D.S. (D.D.S.’70/D). Learn more.
  • The RPI Alumni Council continues to raise funds in support of a history wall that will be installed at the University Student Commons. The goal is to raise about $200,000.  Learn more.
  • The VCU School of Mass Communications was renamed, pending approval of SCHEV, in honor of TV giant and alumnus Richard T. “Dick” Robertson (B.S.’67/MC; HLD’05). Learn more.

Event highlights

Staff highlights

  • Two DAR colleagues won regional Emmys for their work on the Invest in VCU TV commercial. Read more.
  • Laura Kottkamp has joined the School of Business as director of corporate relations.
  • Philip L. O’Connor has joined the School of Engineering as corporate relations officer.

Amy Whitaker Rudenko Memorial Fund established

Amy Rudenko, Pharm.D.

A memorial fund has been established in honor and memory of VCU School of Pharmacy associate professor and alumna Amy Whitaker Rudenko (Pharm.D. ’98), who died May 25 at age 38.

The school will use the fund to make awards to selected Pharm.D. students who have demonstrated leadership qualities.

“It was created to help keep Dr. Rudenko’s name and spirit alive into perpetuity,” said Victor Yanchick, Ph.D., dean of the School of Pharmacy.


VCU Libraries develops free research website for health care providers

Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University will now offer a free online resource of vital health care information for public health care professionals and community health center practitioners seeking information to better care for their patients.

VCU librarians organized the materials for the new website, “A Common Wealth of Public and Primary Care Information,” to provide the most up-to-date information for health care practitioners – physicians, nurses, dentists, nutritionists and health educators in medically underserved areas. The information will support research, clinical practice, interdisciplinary training and continuing education.

“Now a health care provider in downtown Petersburg or rural Pulaski or on the water in Reedville on the Northern Neck has equal and easy access to important medical information,” said Barbara Wright, research and education librarian and project manager with VCU Libraries. “It’s all free and reliable.”


Medicine: Second-year student leads fundraising against Alzheimer’s disease

David Goldberg, a second-year medicine student, founded the organization “Rams for Memory”, a team of medical students and faculty who promote ending Alzheimer’s disease. Goldberg has previous experience in fundraising to fight Alzheimer’s disease and hopes to apply that within the Virginia Commonwealth University community.

David Goldberg at his White Coat Ceremony in 2012.

“I’ve been involved with Alzheimer’s advocacy since August 2010, when my maternal grandfather passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Goldberg. “It was the start of my fourth year of college at the University of Virginia, and my friends and I started an Alzheimer’s awareness, fundraising and volunteering organization called Hoos for Memory.”

Since its launch last year, Goldberg would like to assemble a larger Rams for Memory team. His next step will be the 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Greater Richmond.

“I’m hoping that students from all across VCU, faculty, staff and alumni will join the team,” said Goldberg.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimer’s disease. The Greater Richmond will take place Saturday, Oct. 5  at 4600 Cox Road in Glen Allen. Registration for the walk is free, and money is raised when walkers ask their friends and family for donations. All funds raised from the walk will benefit the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Planned giving yields VCU’s largest-ever cash gift

In the early 1950s, Arthur Graham and Margaret Branch Glasgow named the Medical College of Virginia in their estate plan. Their wishes were to advance efforts to cure and prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases. They died soon thereafter.

Sixty years later, after the death of their last heir, the couple made possible the largest cash gift in the history of Virginia Commonwealth University.

“For Richmond, and our entire community, it’s amazing to think of the foresight that the Glasgows had more than 60 years ago,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., at a special ceremony held in August at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The museum and 13 other local groups also were beneficiaries.

“The impact of their generosity enhances the quality of lives, our culture, our health and our service to the community in so many different ways,” Rao added. “Their gift will be used in the same forward-thinking, generous and compassionate spirit in which it was given to support the cure and prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases.”

Sixty years after their deaths, the couple’s planned gifts totaled $125 million. Nearly $70 million — another record cash gift — will go to VMFA to strengthen its vast collections, $45 million will be dedicated to VCU’s cancer research and prevention programs and the remaining $10 million will be distributed to 13 nonprofit organizations in Richmond and elsewhere.

The impact of the VCU gift is far-reaching.

“Arthur and Margaret Glasgow had an incredible vision for what they could accomplish through the creation of their trusts, although I suspect the full impact of their generosity goes beyond their expectations,” said William P. Kotti, Ph.D., associate vice president and president of the MCV Foundation. “The power of their extraordinary gifts is truly inspirational and will transform the lives of generations of students and patients on the medical campus of VCU.”

The Glasgow gift to support finding a cure for cancer also has the potential to affect the VCU Massey Cancer Center‘s quest to achieve “comprehensive” status from the National Cancer Institute. The Massey Cancer Center has maintained its current NCI status as a designated cancer center since 1975. A comprehensive status would help attract critical NCI funding. Through their planned gift, the Glasgows significantly bolstered the center’s ability to raise additional funds as well as awareness of its nationally recognized programs.

From naming a beneficiary in a will to setting up a trust, donors have many options for contributing to the future financial health of VCU and its programs.

“Planned giving is becoming more commonplace,” said Tom Burke (B.S.’79/E; M.P.A.’95/H&S), associate vice president for VCU’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations and executive director of the VCU Foundation. “Our planned giving Heritage Society grows every year as alumni and friends see the benefit of making significant gifts utilizing bequests.”

Read more.

Half-million dollars in new scholarship endowments will benefit medical students

A pioneering woman and a grateful son. An otolaryngologist, an aunt, a businessman, a surgeon and a widow.

They are the individuals behind more than a half-dozen new
scholarship endowments in the VCU School of Medicine. Together worth more than
$500,000, the endowments will generate annual scholarship awards that
will benefit Virginia Commonwealth University students for the first time in the coming year.

While each reflects its donor’s interests in unique ways, the
scholarships have one unifying theme: each donor asked that the
scholarship be awarded to a student with demonstrated financial need.

“Medical schools across the country are grappling with how to help
their students avoid taking on too much debt,” said Dr. Isaac Wood (M.D.’82/M; H.S.’86/M),
senior associate dean for medical education and student affairs. “Our
school has adopted a two-pronged approach. In a first step, Dean Jerry
Strauss is holding the line on tuition increases. Secondly, we are
doing our best to increase the scholarships and financial aid available
to students. We’re very grateful to these seven friends who have
partnered with us to do just that.”

The medical school encourages named scholarships to be created with
a gift of $25,000 or more. Below this amount, donors can direct
support to any of the school’s established scholarships or to the Annual
Fund, which supports student scholarships. Today, 70 endowed
scholarship funds, valued at $10.4 million, benefit students in the
medical school. Housed at the MCV Foundation, scholarship endowments
produce an annual award of about four percent to five percent of the fund’s

More information about creating scholarships in the medical school is available online.

Blick Scholars program appoints six

In the competitive world of grants and public funding, research scientists are all too familiar with dwindling financial resources and growing laboratory needs. For six scientists on the MCV Campus, however, the future just got a little brighter. All because of the quality of care provided at the VCU Medical Center.

For those living in rural communities, it’s not unusual to visit urban areas for medical care. So it was for Lavinia and George Blick who lived in Rawlings, Va., where she was a homemaker and he worked as a mail carrier, country store owner and farmer during the course of their long life together.

Mrs. Blick developed a fondness for MCV, later VCU Medical Center, where the couple received medical attention from time to time. Her father’s experience there, however, eventually led her to name the institution as a beneficiary in her estate plan.

As a widow with no children or close relatives, Mrs. Blick thought long and hard about her estate, said the couple’s longtime friend and attorney William Dudley Allen III.

“She decided to include the MCV Foundation in her will because her father had received such excellent care there,” Allen said.

Read more from the MCV Foundation’s Chronicle of Giving.

Three medical school champions honored by MCV Foundation

At the MCV Foundation’s Annual Dinner on May 9, three individuals with ties to the School of Medicine were honored for their dedication to its success.

The 2011 Dowdy Award was presented to Charlotte and Jim Roberts, recognizing their volunteerism and philanthropic leadership. Dedicated and passionate volunteers, the couple co-chaired the $245 million Campaign for VCU on the MCV Campus and have contributed more than $125,000 to university projects on both campuses. Their loyalty, dedication and leadership were honored with an award that carries the name of a man they know well. The Michael B. Dowdy Philanthropy Award Endowment was established five years ago to mark Dowdy’s 13-year tenure as president of the MCV Foundation.

In addition, the Irby Award went to Dr. Peter Brown (H.S.’XX), who completed his residency training in surgery on the MCV Campus. Following his residency, Brown was on the full-time faculty for four years before going into private practice in Richmond. And even then, he has remained an adjunct faculty member for the past 33 years. The Irby Award honors Dr. Robert Irby, a rheumatologist and faculty member who was as devoted to securing financial support for his beloved medical school as he was to his patients and colleagues. The award recognizes a faculty member who has provided valuable fundraising assistance to the MCV Campus, as Brown has done for the medical school and the Massey Cancer Center.