Historical marker commemorating 1917 origin of VCU’s Monroe Park campus dedicated

A Virginia historical marker commemorating the founding of the Richmond School of Social Economy, later known as the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health, in 1917, was dedicated outside of Founder’s Hall.

A state historical marker commemorating the origins of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park Campus was unveiled Wednesday outside Founder’s Hall at a ceremony attended by state and university officials, alumni and community members.

The marker, issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, marks the 1917 founding of the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health, which later became the Richmond Professional Institute and ultimately merged with the Medical College of Virginia to create VCU.

The full text of the marker reads:

Richmond Professional Institute

A group of community leaders founded the Richmond School of Social Economy, later known as the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health, in 1917. Initial instruction was in the fields of social work and nursing, but the curriculum soon expanded. In 1925 the school became the Richmond division of the College of William and Mary and moved to its permanent home here at 827 West Franklin Street. It adopted the name Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) in 1939. RPI separated from William and Mary in 1962 and operated as an independent state institution before merging with the Medical College of Virginia in 1968 to form Virginia Commonwealth University.

Read more.

Historical marker for ‘Richmond Professional Institute’ to be dedicated Wednesday

A state historical marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that commemorates the origins of today’s Virginia Commonwealth University Monroe Park Campus will be dedicated Wednesday.

The “Richmond Professional Institute” marker will recognize the 1917 founding of the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health, which later became RPI and ultimately merged with the Medical College of Virginia to form VCU.

The dedication and unveiling ceremony for the marker is open to the public and will take place Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 11:15 a.m. at Founders Hall, located at 827 W. Franklin St. Paid parking — cash or credit card — is available in the VCU West Broad Street parking deck, adjacent to the campus Barnes and Noble.

Speakers during the ceremony will include VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.; Tim Davey, Ph.D., interim dean of the VCU School of Social Work; Joe Lowenthal, chair of the Richmond Professional Institute Alumni Council; and Julie V. Langan, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Guests will be invited to join a processional to the current location of the VCU School of Social Work at the Academic Learning Commons, where a reception honoring VCU School of Social Work emeriti faculty senate presidents will be held on the third floor lobby. A pedestrian path connects the two locations.

In 1917, the marker reads, “A group of community leaders founded the Richmond School of Social Economy, later known as the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health.” Initially, the school focused on instruction in the fields of social work and nursing, “but the curriculum soon expanded,” according to the marker.

In 1925, the school relocated to its permanent home at 827 W. Franklin Street as the Richmond division of the College of William and Mary. In 1939, it was renamed the Richmond Professional Institute, and in 1962 it separated from William and Mary.

For most of the 1960s the school operated as an independent state institution “before merging with the Medical College of Virginia in 1968 to form Virginia Commonwealth University.”

The “Richmond Professional Institute” highway marker is sponsored by the VCU Foundation and was approved for manufacture and installation earlier this year by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources, which has authority to designate new historical markers. The VCU Foundation covered the manufacturing costs of the sign. The event is sponsored by the VCU School of Social Work, RPI Alumni Council, VCU Libraries and VCU Facilities Management.

Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,500 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, as well as by local partners in jurisdictions outside of VDOT’s authority such as the City of Richmond.

Beatrice Wynn’s election in 1966 as RPI’s Harvest Ball queen attracted national attention

Beatrice Wynn Bush stands in front of Shafer Street Playhouse, where she spent much of her time as a drama student.
Allen Jones, University Marketing

Beatrice Wynn Bush (B.F.A.’69/A) decided to attend Richmond Professional Institute in 1966 because she was drawn to the theater department. She liked its assortment of courses and knew the program would offer a strong foundation for her to pursue her already avid interest in acting. However, she received a major shock when she stepped foot on campus. The department had not yet been integrated. She would be its first black student.

“When I figured that out, I got a little worried,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out.”

Read more.


RamsOnVacation-FBsquareWill you be in any picturesque locations this summer? Pack your VCU gear!

We want to share pictures of you in your VCU best all summer long as part of Rams on Vacation. Share your pics with us via social media or alumni@vcu.edu.

View photos from previous years:

Special guest at next RPI alumni meeting

Dick Robertson

Graduates of Richmond Professional Institute are invited to attend a special meeting of the RPI Alumni Council. Please join fellow RPI graduates and hear from Richard T. Robertson (B.S.’67/MC), former president of Warner Brothers Domestic Television Distribution. Robertson is a graduate of the Robertson School of Media and Culture (his namesake) where he studied advertising. He received his B.S. in 1967.

Learn about Robertson’s path to success since being a student at RPI.

When: 2 p.m. Friday, March 27
Where: Richard T. Robertson Alumni House, 924 W. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23284
RSVP: By March 20 to Diane Stout-Brown (B.S.W.’80/SW), senior director of VCU Alumni, at dstout@vcu.edu or (804) 828-7020.

Robertson has been inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame (1997). During Robertson’s more than 40-year career in television, he was one of the architects of the syndicated barter television system. Robertson has been involved in the sales and launches of hundreds of television series and specials, including “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Friends,” “The People’s Court,” “The Love Connection,” and “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.”

Don’t forget to register for the 2015 RPI Reunion. Join your classmates at the beautiful Scott House for dinner. Special entertainment will be provided by students from Theatre VCU. You won’t want to miss the festivities. Registration deadline is April 10. Visit the website to learn more. 

VCU Alumni celebrates outstanding volunteers

service awardsVirginia Commonwealth University will honor a collection of its most dedicated and accomplished alumni at VCU Alumni’s Alumni Volunteer Service Awards celebration.

The awards celebrate alumni who have worked with particular devotion to serve the VCU community. VCU Alumni, an umbrella organization providing coordination and support for an alliance of alumni constituent organizations, presents the awards.

Recipients will be honored Oct. 24 at the Richmond Marriott. Each of the top award recipients will receive a handmade glass medallion featuring the VCU seal. Alumnus Sean Donlon (B.F.A.’12/A) crafted the medallion. Get more information and register to attend the event. 

Read more.

Social Work: Supporting a long-term connection



Bev Koerin, Ph.D. (B.S.’69/SW; M.S.W.’74/SW), attended Westhampton College, now part of the University of Richmond, for two years, but because she was drawn to social work, she transferred to Richmond Professional Institute.

“I knew I wanted to go into this field that I wasn’t even really clear on,” she says.

Once established at RPI (which, along with the Medical College of Virginia, became Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968), Koerin thrived in her course work and her future career path became razor sharp.

“When I attended VCU, the programs were comprehensive and I had excellent instructors and outstanding field experiences,” she says. “As a first-generation college student with no family tradition of going to college, VCU afforded me a wealth of opportunities. I value that.”

Koerin earned her B.S. in Social Welfare from the VCU School of Social Work in 1969 and began working for the Richmond Department of Social Services, assisting low-income adults. She later enrolled part time into the VCU School of Social Work’s master’s program and earned her degree in 1974. She then joined the Virginia Department of Welfare, aiding families in need.

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.

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.

Continue reading

RPI Retrospective shines light on alumni art

RPI Poster-final part
The RPI Alumni Steering Committee is sponsoring an eight-week exhibit at the Richmond Public Library featuring the art of students and faculty from 1928 through 1968.

The exhibit, “40 Years of Creative Excellence,” comprises paintings, sculptures, graphics and crafts created during that time. It also features more current works by RPI graduates, to show contrast between earlier and later works.

The exhibition opened at The Richmond Public Library with an opening reception during First Friday’s Art Walk on April 5. Events including oral history sessions and talks by artists will be held in the galleries during the next eight weeks.

The gallery space is located on the first floor of the library at 101 E. Franklin St. The top floor contains a permanent collection of RPI artwork. The exhibit runs through June 5.

Learn more.