April is Alumni Month at VCU, and scores of alumni will be returning to campus for events and festivities. Some of them, however, won’t have far to go, as they’re already on campus 12 months of the year. More than 2,400 VCU faculty and staff are also alumni of the university, whether they earned their undergraduate, master’s, first-professional or doctoral degrees here.
You’ll find them in nearly every school, division, office and unit — at the front of classrooms, behind desks and even walking the police beat. Below, a handful of these faculty and staff share what it’s like to work for their alma mater and how VCU has impacted their lives during their time as students as well as employees.
Ellen Byrne’s (B.S.’77/P; D.D.S.’83/D; H.S.’91/D; Ph.D.’91/M) ties to VCU are extensive. The senior associate dean and professor of endodontics in the VCU School of Dentistry counts three degrees and a certificate from the university. VCU, she said, “has been my life.”
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (second from left) toured the Center for High Blood Pressure with School of Pharmacy students Jay Patel (left) and Whitney Webb and alumna Lauren Caldas. Dave Baldwin (right), the center’s excecutive director, earned his M.S.H.A. at VCU in 2009.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe paid a visit in March to the Center for High Blood Pressure, a Richmond clinic with which the VCU School of Pharmacy has formed a working partnership.
The governor and several associates were interested in learning about the challenges facing patients without health insurance and the practitioners who care for them.
Among the VCU representatives involved in the visit were alumni Lauren Caldas (Pharm.D.’11/P) and Evan Sisson (B.S.’92/P, Pharm.D.’94/P, M.S.H.A.’96/AHP), who also is an associate professor with the school.
Alumna Brigitte Sicat (right) congratulates School of Pharmacy Student Professionalism Awards nominees.
Alumna Brigitte Sicat (Pharm.D.’98/P), an associate professor at VCU School of Pharmacy, has encouraged and supported the role of professionalism at the school for several years. Sicat helmed the Fourth Annual Student Professionalism Awards Ceremony on April 9, recognizing one student in each of the first- through third-year Pharm.D. classes for their outstanding professionalism. Sixteen students were nominated this year.
Class of 1962 Scholarship recipient Lauren Flynt and alumnus Raeford Rockwell Jr.
Third-year Pharm.D. student Lauren Flynt, the most recent recipient of the School of Pharmacy Class of 1962 Scholarship, had the opportunity earlier this month to meet donor and alumnus Raeford D. Rockwell Jr. (B.S.’62/P). The class created the scholarship in 2012 as part of its 50-year reunion celebration.
Dean Victor Yanchick with Shaia Scholarship recipients Jessica Libuit (left) and Jessica Cerullo
The late Margaret Shaia (B.S.’58/P) and her husband, Harry Shaia Jr., established the VCU School of Pharmacy’s Harry and Zackia Shaia Scholarship to support students interested in addressing social concerns via pharmacy practice. The couple established a similar scholarship for School of Medicine students.
Dozens of alumni, students, faculty and friends of VCU School of Pharmacy were on hand for the American Pharmacists Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., in March. One impromptu SOP reunion included (from left to right): Jewell Emswiller (whose late husband Carl Emswiller was a 1962 alumnus); Michelle Herbert Thomas (B.S.’90/P, H.S.‘90/P) and her mom Ann Herbert (Michelle’s dad and Ann’s husband, Danny Herbert, was a 1966 alum and former APhA president); Rebecca Snead (B.S.’85/P); Elizabeth Scott “Scotti” Russell (B.S.’77/P); and SOP Dean Victor Yanchick. Thomas is a clinical pharmacist with Chickahominy Family Physicians and owner of Richmond Apothecaries Inc., which her father established; Snead is executive vice president and CEO of the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations; and Russell is government affairs manager for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The school also hosted an alumni reception in conjunction with AphA’s annual meeting.
VCU School of Pharmacy Dean Emeritus John Ruggiero and his wife, Marge, have been enjoying their home “down south” in Naples, Fla. Ruggiero was dean of the school from 1982 through 1996, during which time the Smith Building was completed and opened, and the transition was made from the bachelor of science degree program to postbaccalaureate Pharm.D. (The final transition to all-Pharm.D. was made soon after the new dean, Victor Yanchick, arrived in 1996.) Ruggiero also initiated the combined Pharm.D./Ph.D. program.
In the crowds of ecstatic family and friends at recent VCU School of Social Work commencement ceremonies, one of the most enthusiastic well-wishers has attended in an almost official capacity. Andrea Wiley, director of clinical services at Rubicon, a Richmond-based provider of chemical dependency treatment services, is always in the audience, cheering loudly for the former Rubicon interns among the newest graduates.
“They may as well be my own children the way I’m up there screaming at them and embarrassing them,” Wiley said. “But I want them to know how much I appreciate what they’ve done for us.”
By necessity, graduate students in certain disciplines at VCU head off-campus into the broader community to study, conduct research and work in their chosen fields. The students give as much as they get. Their classroom learning crystallizes when exposed to the elements of real-world practice, while their searching, eager efforts benefit a range of organizations, neighborhoods and individuals. Their participation with local businesses, schools, governments and other groups occurs in a variety of areas, ranging from health care to social work and education.