VCU Medical Center ranked No. 1 hospital in the Richmond metro area and among the best in the state

VCU Medical Center has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 hospital in the Richmond metro area for 2016–17 and was ranked No. 2 in Virginia. VCU Medical Center also ranks in the top 50 in the country for orthopedics at No. 36 and is tied at No. 46 for nephrology.

“We’re honored to be named among the best hospitals in the country,” said Marsha Rappley, M.D., vice president of VCU health sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System. “This recognition is only possible because of the extraordinary work, compassion and devotion our entire team puts forth each and every day. I am very proud of our entire team that works tirelessly to provide exceptional care to all we serve.”

Read more.

VCU names Michigan State University’s Marsha Rappley to health system CEO post

Marsha D. Rappley, M.D.

Marsha D. Rappley, M.D.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner, Michigan State University

Virginia Commonwealth University today announced that Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., will serve as Virginia Commonwealth University vice president for health sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System, effective Aug. 15.

In the position, Rappley will lead Virginia’s most comprehensive academic health sciences enterprise, which includes the VCU health system hospitals and outpatient clinics; the physician practice plan; the Medicaid health plan; the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry and Allied Health Professions; and the Massey Cancer Center.

Rappley currently serves as dean of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, with clinical, research and medical education operations at six campuses throughout the state that are affiliated with nine health systems and other health care providers.

Read more.

Medicine: Family celebrates a 101st birthday with gift

Eagles Nest, Waynesboro’s airport. Clelia M. Johnson (right) takes a glider flight with her first cousin Ben F. Johnson. Both are from Hylas, Virginia, just West of Richmond, Virginia.

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

Low-budget stroke campaign makes high impact at VCU

“Which beekeeper closet correct answer the pie?”

No, I’m not losing the fight with autocorrect (Though it does resemble the texts I’ve been receiving from my mother). The above text was actually featured in a newspaper teaser ad for Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center’s recent stroke campaign.

The Richmond, Virginia, medical center decided to participate in the National Stroke Association’s awareness campaign for in May for Stroke Month because of its region’s unique demographics.

Virginia is inside of the “stroke belt,” a region in the southeastern US that public health authorities have recognized for having an unusually high incidence of stroke and other episodes caused by cardiovascular disease. Additionally, 54% of Richmond’s population are African American—a demographic that has a 2.5 times greater risk of stroke than the Caucasian population.

“All of these factors contributed to the decision to participate in the national campaign for Stroke Month by supporting awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke,” says Cynthia Schmidt, chief of marketing for VCU.

“Since stroke is not a service that you can drive business to, we saw this very much as a public service campaign with the primary goal of public health education.”

Read more at Media Health Leaders.

Health System: VCU, Community Memorial Healthcenter celebrate affiliation

Wayne Parrish, chairman of the CMH Board of Directors; Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and the VCU Health System; Scott Burnette, CMH president and CEO

Wayne Parrish, chairman of the CMH Board of Directors; Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and the VCU Health System; Scott Burnette, CMH president and CEO

Representatives of the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System and Community Memorial Healthcenter (CMH) in South Hill, Va., signed an affiliation agreement on Friday to join operations on July 1. With the agreement, which was celebrated at a community ceremony and reception in South Hill, CMH is renamed VCU Community Memorial Hospital and is part of the VCU Health System.

The affiliation will expand the range and depth of health care delivery for residents of Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina. Under the agreement, the VCU Health System will commit a minimum of $75 million in new strategic investments in CMH, including a new hospital facility, health care technologies, clinical initiatives and physician recruitment.

VCU and CMH representatives addressed a crowd of nearly 300 leaders, employees and community members. Virginia Sen. Frank Ruff and Del. Tommy Wright were in the audience and were recognized for supporting efforts to improve health care in the region.

Read more.

Health System: Governor appoints three to board of directors

life_evac-optGov. Terry McAuliffe has appointed three new members to the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Board of Directors.

The appointees are Arline Bohannon, M.D., an associate professor of internal medicine at the VCU Medical Center; George Emerson, a local real estate developer; and the Rev. Tyrone Nelson, pastor of the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Bohannon, a member of the VCU faculty since 2003, earned her undergraduate degree at Howard University and her medical degree at SUNY at Syracuse. She completed her internal medicine residency at Wayne State University and her geriatric medicine fellowship at Duke University. She serves as medical director of Lucy Corr Village nursing home in Chesterfield and medical director of the VCU Health System Virginia Coordinated Care program.

Read more.

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.

President’s posts: On the rise

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.

From VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.: At Virginia Commonwealth University, we have a vibrant, dynamic culture that fuels the collaborative spirit. Every success story inspires creative expression, spurs inquiry and discovery and invokes pride.

Three years ago, we set forward on our Quest for Distinction to become the nation’s premier urban, public research university. We have made progress in so many areas, including attracting and retaining national-caliber students and internationally renowned faculty, growing our translational research enterprise and making life-saving advancements in human health.

Our successes have been profound. They have also brought new challenges, including taxing our current infrastructure. We must continue to provide the very best facilities that match the caliber of talent we are attracting. These transformations include high-tech classrooms and library facilities, state-of-the-art laboratories and clinical facilities, collaborative studio space and unique living-learning residence halls. As U.S. News & World Report pointed out last year, we are noted for making promising and innovative changes in academics, faculty, student life, campus or facilities. We continue to build upon this recognition.

Here is an update on some of the projects currently on the rise.

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.

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.”