Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Over the past year, we as a school and academic medical center have faced numerous challenges, and we recognize the tremendous work of our departments and programs. Thank you for the flexibility and determination you’ve shown as you’ve continued to make impressive progress in our school’s missions of education, research and clinical care.

The Med-Health Development office – where a cornerstone of its work had been invitations to visit campus or long-distance travel for one-on-one meetings with donors – likewise continued to advance the school’s missions. Despite the challenges – and in many cases because of them – our alums, grateful patients and community leaders have come alongside us with an unprecedented and extraordinary level of generosity. Much of this support earlier during the COVID-19 crisis was from grateful patients and went to fund some of our COVID-19 related research, educational activities and clinical initiatives. More recently, Niles Eggleston, assistant vice president for development of VCU Health and the School of Medicine, provided an update on our progress, and it is our great pleasure to share it with you.

With two months left in our current fiscal year, our Med-Health Development team has already exceeded last year’s totals in gifts and pledges, and – at $44.8 million – is at 107% of this year’s goal. With another $4.94 million in proposals being considered by donors, this will be a banner year for philanthropy.

Behind these numbers are alums and friends with gifts large and small. A new $1 million gift was committed by a Class of 1952 alum who made provisions for a remarkable third full-tuition scholarship for our deserving medical students. And alums from coast to coast responded to a Match Day crowdfunding campaign5  that raised 246 gifts – surpassing a goal of 206 that was set to honor each of our graduating students and unlocking $50,000 for equity scholarships.

The Indianapolis Colts football team was inspired by its owner to make a quarter-million-dollar commitment to VCU Health’s Rainbow Society that supports our colleagues who are facing medical or personal crises. We also recently concluded the successful campaign to establish an endowed chair honoring longtime Neurosurgery Chair Dr. Harry Young and his wife, Terri. To bring this over the finish line, Neurosurgery Chair Dr. Alex Valadka sent 72 personal emails to former trainees, raising more than $230,000 in gifts and helping the campaign hit its $1.5 million goal.

That kind of leadership is incredibly valuable to our philanthropic efforts and deserves to be recognized. We are fortunate to have enthusiastic partners throughout our medical school and health system, and this year the Medical Philanthropy Academy enrolled its third cohort of physicians, scientists and clinical teams. These colleagues are training to come alongside our development team in raising support for our academic missions. Like so many other development events, MPA sessions have moved online, which has proved to be a wonderful venue for our busy faculty and staff to learn about the best practices and techniques that undergird development work and help us respond appropriately to donor interest. The pivot to a virtual environment was so stellar that the AAMC awarded the Med-Health Development team a Bronze Award for Excellence.

We are already seeing MPA participants put to use what they’re learning, and we have celebrated many recent gifts made by grateful patients and their families to recognize our talented and compassionate clinical teams. A heartening example is a $5,000 gift to purchase blood pressure monitors that our indigent prenatal patients will use during their telemedicine visits. Another is a recent $1 million gift supporting the cardiovascular rehabilitation program as well as research at the VCU Health Pauley Heart Center and Massey Cancer Center. Gifts such as these are the result of relationships with donors and – very importantly – partnerships with our faculty and staff members.

We are proud of our colleagues who have adapted throughout this year of change and challenge. With ingenuity, compassion and determination, you have found ways to meet our goals, and we are so grateful for our alums and friends who have partnered with us to transform medical education, research and clinical care for our community, nation and world. There are many more opportunities ahead of us, especially as we begin to resume meeting in person with our loyal communities of donors, friends and advocates.

With the greatest respect and gratitude,

Pter F. Buckley, M.D.; Dean, VCU School of Medicine; Executive vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System