Pharmacy: Opportunity to meet the new dean!

Joseph DiPiro

Dean Joseph DiPiro

A reception for new VCU School of Pharmacy Dean Joseph T. DiPiro will take place 6-7:30 p.m. July 22 at the Willow Oaks Country Club, 6228 Forest Hill Ave. in Richmond.

Area alumni and friends of the school are invited to drop by and welcome the dean, whose first official day at the school was July 1.

If you plan to join us for an evening with the dean, RSVPs are requested by July 18. Questions? Call (804) 828-3016.

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: Sponsor a white coat for the Class of ‘18


Pharm White Coat (2)In what has become an annual tradition, alumni and friends of the VCU School of Pharmacy are invited to sponsor the white coat of an incoming Pharm.D. student or students. The White Coat Ceremony – and the coat itself – symbolize first-year students’ official transition to student pharmacists.

Each gift of $50 will go toward a coat that will be presented to a member of the Class of 2018 at this year’s White Coat Ceremony. You may make a donation online or call Ellen Carfagno, director of development, at 804-828-3016.

Learn more about the School of Pharmacy’s White Coat Ceremony and last year’s event.

Pharmacy: Preceptors recognized by school, Office of Experiential Education

Dean Victor Yanchick presented the Preceptor of the Year award to Nicole Watts.

Dean Victor Yanchick presented the Preceptor of the Year award to Nicole Watts.

Nicole Watts, a clinical oncology pharmacist with the University of Virginia Health System, has been named VCU School of Pharmacy’s 2013-14 Preceptor of the Year. Watts was recognized during the school’s Pharm.D. Senior Banquet in May for her exemplary work as a preceptor and pharmacist with Acute Care II – Oncology (Hem/Onc/BMT) Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience rotations.

Accepting the award from SOP Dean Victor Yanchick, Watts thanked her first “preceptees,” Toni Larson (Pharm.D.’14/P) and Allison Smith (Pharm.D.’14/P).

“I am not one to lack enthusiasm for what I do,” Watts said with a smile. “I’m fortunate to have had preceptors to guide me in my career.” She encouraged graduates to make the most of their Pharm.D. degrees and to “make a mark” whether it’s in practice, precepting, research or otherwise.

In addition to Preceptor of the Year, the School of Pharmacy recognizes one preceptor in each of the nine Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience rotation blocks. Five of this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Preceptor Award are VCU alumni: May T. Aziz (Pharm.D.’11/P), Jon Carter (Pharm.D.’10/P), Anne J. Harrison (B.S.’96/P; M.S.’05/M), Kerri T. Musselman (Pharm.D.’08/P) and Divya Trehan (Pharm.D.’06/P).

Pharmacy: Gala honors transition of deans

Dean Victor Yanchick, Ph.D.

Dean Victor Yanchick, Ph.D.

More than 350 Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy alumni, faculty, residents, students, preceptors, friends and family convened May 29 at Richmond’s Jefferson Hotel to mark the passing of an era. The VCU Pharmacy Gala celebrated Victor A. Yanchick’s 18 years of leadership as dean and Joseph T. DiPiro’s appointment as new dean. Following a cocktail reception and dinner, VCU President Michael Rao announced that the Victor A. Yanchick Professorship in Geriatric Pharmacy had been established in the dean’s name. Rao commended Yanchick on his “profound legacy … that will be our building block for years to come.” Rao also congratulated the School of Pharmacy on having been fortunate enough to attract DiPiro, who most recently served as executive dean and professor for the South Carolina College of Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina. Read more. 

Pharmacy: Collaborative care project named APLU Magrath award finalist

The Richmond Area Compassionate Care Pharmacy, which opened in 2012, is one of many SOP-community collaborative partnerships.

The Richmond Area Compassionate Care Pharmacy, which opened in 2012, is one of many SOP-community collaborative partnerships.

The VCU School of Pharmacy’s Pharmacist Collaborative Care and Outreach in the Community project is a regional winner of the 2014 Engagement Scholarship/W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award and a finalist for the C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award.

Pharmacist Collaborative Care and Outreach in the Community, or PCOC, refers to School of Pharmacy-based initiatives since 2001 in which more than 500 students, 14 faculty and 35 residents have worked with Richmond area organizations to promote safe and effective medication use via more than 20,000 patient encounters.

Read more about 13 years’ worth of collaborative, interprofessional partnerships that have benefited School of Pharmacy faculty and students as well as the community.

Student team one of 10 in country chosen to become ‘hot spotters’


Hotspotting IMG_2934-featureIn the United States, 5 percent of the population accounts for almost half of total health care expenses. That’s according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In the world of health policy and health reform, identifying those super-utilizing patients is sometimes called “hot spotting,” and it could be a key to controlling health care costs in the future.

A five-student interprofessional team from Virginia Commonwealth University is one of 10 chosen for a six-month learning collaborative to explore the root causes that lead to repeat visits to the hospital and drive up health care costs.

The team will be led by the Eveline Chu and Tricia Olaes. Both are medical students in the school’s International/Inner City/Rural Preceptorship program who will use the experience as their capstone project. Other participants include Emily Pratt, a graduate student in the School of Social Work; Andrea Ramos, a student in the School of Nursing; and Aziza Dang, a student in the School of Pharmacy.

Read more.

Pharmacy and Medicine: Colleagues receive NIH grants for clinical trials

Ben Van Tassell (left) and Antonio Abbate collaborate on anti-inflammatory therapy research for heart patients.

Ben Van Tassell (left) and Antonio Abbate collaborate on anti-inflammatory therapy research for heart patients.

Two VCU faculty members — Benjamin Van Tassell of the School of Pharmacy and Antonio Abbate of the School of Medicine –  received two new R34 grants, effective July 1, from the National Institute of Health’s National Health, Lung and Blood Institute.

Abbate and Van Tassell will work as co-principal investigators on two clinical trials with the goal of identifying new anti-inflammatory therapies for heart patients: “Interleukin-1 Blockade in Acute Myocardial Infarction” ($660,000 over three years) and “Interleukin-1 Blockade in Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction” ($660,000 over two years).

Read about Van Tassell’s and Abbate’s six-year collaboration and their goals.

Pharmacy: Alumnus delivers convocation address

Alumnus John Beckner

Alumnus John Beckner

Alumnus John Beckner (B.S.’78/P) delivered the convocation address at VCU School of Pharmacy’s 2014 Hooding and Diploma Ceremony in May. Beckner is senior director, strategic initiatives, for the National Community Pharmacists Association. He also is a member of the MCV Foundation board of trustees.

Beckner’s speech, titled “Making a Difference – Are You Ready for Prime Time?”, spoke eloquently to the paths open to new pharmacists  in a new and exciting day. He cited a number of sobering statistics —  problems with medication errors and medication adherence — that will challenge the next generation to provide the best possible health care for the best possible patient outcomes.

Read more.

Pharmacy: American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy doubly recognizes VCU

Veronica Shuford (left), Dave Dixon and Evan Sisson will present an award-winning teaching innovation at the 2014 AACP Annual Meeting.

Veronica Shuford (left), Dave Dixon and Evan Sisson will present an award-winning teaching innovation at the 2014 AACP Annual Meeting.

VCU School of Pharmacy faculty found out – just a few days apart – that they would receive two national awards from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. The awards will be presented during the 2014 AACP Annual Meeting, which takes place July 26-30 in Grapevine, Texas.

The Innovations in Teaching Competition award will go to assistant professor Dave Dixon, associate professor Evan Sisson (B.S.’92/P; Pharm.D.’94/P, M.S.H.A.’96/AHP) and Veronica Shuford (B.S.’90/MC, M.Ed.’96/E), director of educational innovation and assessment. Their innovation is titled “Use of Video-Recorded Clinic Visits to Improve Assessment of Student Pharmacists’ Clinical Interviewing Skills.”

The school’s participation in Remote Area Medical mission events garnered it a Student Community Engaged Service Award. Representing the VCU team are Sisson, Natalie Nguyen (Pharm.D.’14/P) and Shaema George (Pharm.D. ’14) and fourth-year student Erika Lambert. Teams from Harding University, Stamford University and University of the Pacific also will receive the Student Community Engaged Service Award.