Dear Colleagues-Friends,

One of the things that makes our medical school special is how our alumni engage with their alma mater long past graduation. We have three outstanding recent examples of that, and I thought you’d like to know more about them:

  • Cardiac surgeon Jennifer Lawton, H’99, returned as the 2018 Brooks-Lower Visiting Professor and guest judge for the Department of Surgery’s research day. Department of Surgery Chair Vigneshwar Kasirajan, M.D., says the department was looking to bring in someone with significant interest in research and a practicing surgeon. They found both in Lawton. “She is a great researcher and a great surgeon, and very well known in the profession.”
  • Alumni volunteer John McGurl from the Class of 1993 has earned our thanks. He opened his home to host the school’s inaugural Medical Student-Alumni Supper Club this spring. The events allow small groups of students to have a meal and conversation with Richmond-area alumni as a venue for sharing ideas, seeking career advice and building relationships. For alumni, it’s a novel way to stay involved with their alma mater. In fact, “It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” Dr. McGurl told us, “I would have had another one the next day.”
  • After residency, Eric Freeman, M’02, returned to Richmond to fulfill his life-long aspiration to practice in his hometown. Now he’s returned to campus as the speaker at the medical school’s Second Look program that gives applicants who are members of underrepresented minorities a chance to explore the school’s programs in more depth. Each year, a weekend of activities is organized by the School of Medicine’s Office of Student Outreach, along with VCU’s chapters of the Student National Medical Association and Latino Medical Student Association. The Admissions Office’s Donna Jackson, Ed D., says Dr. Freeman serves as a role model of a commitment to community service. “As a student, he always expressed a desire to serve in communities of need in Richmond and continued that when he returned to Richmond after residency. Our current students can be inspired by Dr. Freeman’s journey to set goals that continually include service to others. Whether at home or in a new city or state, we want our students to give back.”

You’ll find more stories of alumni contributions in the spring issue of 12th and Marshall magazine that’s hot off the presses. Also in this issue we’ve spotlighted the highly accomplished colleagues who lead our 26 departments. We want our readers to get to know these leaders, and we’ve begun with Tony Kuzel, M.D., and John Povlishock.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading these stories.

Warm Regards,
Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System