More than any other time of year, this is the season that inspires us to reflect on what we have and what matters most to us. Chief among the things I am most grateful for this year is the outpouring of support, appreciation and generosity our school and health system have received from every corner of our community. This has been an unparalleled and uplifting experience.
Our university recently had the chance to express our thanks for the more than 113,000 donors who propelled the Make It Real Campaign for VCU past its goal to hit a record-breaking $841,606,604 – more than 112% of its $750 million goal. In a marvelous virtual event, VCU Development and Alumni Relations shared stories of how that generosity is already having an impact.
Our School of Medicine and VCU Health are grateful beneficiaries of an astonishing $372.3 million – 44.2% – of the university’s total. The Nov. 18 virtual event spotlighted some of the people, programs and places that have been transformed through philanthropy:
- An early campaign milestone was Frances and James McGlothlin’s remarkable $25 million gift – one of the largest gifts in our school’s history – to name the McGlothlin Medical Education Center. The generosity of the McGlothlins was inspirational, and hundreds of alumni, faculty and friends also supported the project. As a result, it opened the doors for future physicians to study a curriculum that incorporates team-based learning and clinical problem-solving as well as simulation training.
- Hand-in-hand with providing a spectacular facility was the need to reduce the financial debt our students bear with the 1838 Scholarship Campaign. Alumni, faculty and community leaders’ generosity pushed us 8% over our goal and – with $27 million raised – we’ve seen 78 new endowed scholarships created. Another 50 existing scholarships increased in size through new gifts, and the average scholarship award is $9,754 today, compared to $6,840 at the start of campaign. We also are extremely proud to see 13 students now receive full-tuition scholarships, compared to just one at the start of campaign.
- Our faculty have benefitted as well. We are sincerely grateful for the 20 endowed professorships established by our friends. Just one example of how that strengthens our faculty can be found in the neurosciences, where half a dozen endowed professorships and chairs were established or grew in size thanks to philanthropic gifts. Endowed professorships make possible key recruitments of colleagues like Gordon Smith, M.D., and Bob Findling, M.D., as new holders of two of the six Wright Distinguished Chairs in Clinical and Translational Research that were established by our longtime benefactor, the late C. Kenneth Wright. Such opportunities make all the difference in attracting highly talented new leaders to our school. We also are grateful for the opportunities that endowed chairs and professorships provide to recognize and reward talented colleagues who are already on our team.
- More than 18,300 donors made gifts to a broad array of programs in the medical school and VCU Health over the course of the campaign, directing their generosity to areas near and dear to their hearts. The Pauley Heart Center, for example, finished strong: FY20 was its top fundraising year ever. That was fueled in part by the Pauley Family Foundation's $5 million commitment last fall. In fact, the Pauley family's longstanding partnership – giving $24 million in total to VCU over several decades and more than $14 million to the Pauley Heart Center during the campaign – means that the center’s physicians and researchers have the necessary equipment to advance cardiovascular care. We were so pleased that before his death in November, Stanley F. Pauley had witnessed with great satisfaction the transformation that would result from his family’s kindness.
We are most grateful for our VCU Development and Alumni Relations colleagues’ dedication and steadfast commitment to supporting our mission and for hosting such an inspiring virtual event, a recording of which is available online at campaign.vcu.edu/makeitreal. You could not find a more hardworking and committed group than the Med-Health Development team. We are forever grateful for their talent that – together with our valued colleagues at the MCV Foundation – has enabled this level of success.
It is a privilege to do the work we do – work that has the potential to transform medical education, research and clinical care for our community, nation and world. But doing this work is only possible thanks to the generosity of grateful patients, alumni and community leaders as well as faculty and staff members – a fact that is both humbling and inspiring. Our deepest thanks go to all those in our community who have partnered with us through their generosity. Collectively, this remarkable kindness and support secures our present and enables our bright future.