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Campus concerts: 2008 

Grammy Award-winning artist Sheryl Crow plays 
to Virginia Commonwealth University students 
and Richmond community members at Monroe Park as part of the 20o8 
Rock the Vote tour with Jack Johnson and the Beastie Boys. Later that night, 
the performers urged a crowd of 5.3 00 at tne Richmond Coliseum to get 
out and vote. 




.. ■ ■:,■■■; 

'i Pi, * 





- 4 






8 > Welcome to the family 

Virginia Commonwealth University's fifth president, 
Michael Rao, Ph.D., joins the campus community. 

12 > Smart pick 

After a summer of recruiting, Shaka Smart prepares 
to take the floor as VCU's new men's basketball coach. 

14 > Lights, camera, action 

Peep This helps young African-American males gain 
perspective through documentary filmmaking. 

16 > Celebrate VCU 

A new alumni association agenda promotes university 
pride and service among graduates. 

22 > Helping hands 

Donors step in to save student scholarships in jeopardy 
of losing funding due to the faltering economy. 


2 > Circa 

Campus concerts: 2008. 

5 > University news 

Noteworthy news and research at VCU. 

18 > Face to face 

Diane Reynolds talks about organizing a university- 
wide effort to fill the foodbank. 

19 > My college town 

Richmond's national reputation as a road-racing 
destination continues to grow. 

20 > The big picture 

Fall's vibrant foliage frames the streets of VCU's 
Monroe Park Campus. 

26 > Alumni connections 

The latest news from the alumni association. 

31 > Class notes 

Updates from alumni, faculty, staff and friends. 

37 > Then and now 

The social and service aspects that launched Greek 
life at VCU remain intact today. 

38 > Datebook 

Upcoming university and alumni events. 

39 > Circa 

Campus concerts: 1989. 

Fall 2009 I 

Association develops avenues for alumni service 

It is an honor to introduce myself as the new 
president of your Virginia Commonwealth University 
Alumni Association. These are exciting times at your 
alma mater, as we welcome President Michael Rao and 
his family into the VCU community. Please read the 
article on Page 8 to learn more about him. 

Based on the fall 2007 alumni survey results, as 
well as the results of the May 2008 Alumni Symposia, 
your association has established three primary strategic 
initiatives to undertake during the next two years, and 
I invite you to join and work with volunteers and staff 
to support one or more of the them. 

We will focus on: 

Service to community and VCU 

University engagement and student-alumni 

Membership acquisition and retention 

More detailed information is available for each 
on Page l6. 

Alumni services are not limited to social programming, and we hope the new service and engagement 
priorities will provide a more natural means for bringing you and other VCU graduates into the black- 
and-gold fold. VCU alumni tell us they want to give back to the university and "pay it forward" to benefit 
future generations of students. They clearly see their alumni association as a catalyst for promoting service 
to the community and to the university. 

We also want to involve our university partners, such as the Division of Community Engagement, to 
make sure we tackle service projects collaboratively. But it's not just about giving back in the Richmond 
area; we want VCU alumni like you to lead these efforts regardless of where you live. 

We want to find more ways to connect to students, to make sure they're engaged in opportunities for 
service with our alumni. We also want to make sure we're motivating students to become actively involved 
with the VCUAA while they're on campus so when they receive their diploma, one of the things they give 
to themselves is an active dues membership in their alumni association. 

Alumni play a critical role in the continued success of the association's goals and, in turn, the growth 
of the university as a leading institution of higher education. I invite you to connect, engage and serve 
as an active dues-paying member and volunteer leader. 

Yours for VCU, 

Donna Dalton (M.Ed. 'OO/E) 
President, VCU Alumni Association 

M H On the cover 

[jj 1 VCU Pres.dent Michael Rao. Ph.D., Mrs. 
gSr >B*3^B 1 Monica Pao and Ineir sons, Miguel, 9, and 
BB^PT^^^gJ Aiden, 1, at the Truth and Beauty sculp- 
*fw ^^H ture located on the Monroe Part Campus. 



Mixed Sources 

Product group from well-managed 
forests, controlled sources and 
recycled wood or fiber Cert no. BV-COC-069111 
© 1 996 Forest Stewardship Council 

Fall 2009 • Volume I|>, Number I 
www.vcu-mcvalumni. orff 

Assistant Vice President, 
University Alumni Relations 
Gordon A. McDougall 

Executive Director, 

VCU Alumni Association 

Diane Stout-Brown (B.S.W. '80/SW) 


Kristen Caldwell (B.S. '94/MO 

Trina Lambert 

Linda George 

Jessica Foster 


Editorial: Kelli Anderson, Claire Hairfield 
(B.A. '08/H&S), Jennifer Carmean 
(B.S. '98/H&S), Teri Dunnivant, Erin Egan, 
Polly Roberts, Melanie Irvin Solaimani 
(B.S. '96/MC), Kim Witt 

Design: Pamela Arnold (B.F.A. '87/A), Nathan 
Hanger (B.S. '01/MC), Haley Hollenbach 
(B.FA. Ol/A). Katie McBride (B.F.A. '04/A), 
Matthew Phillips (M.F.A. '87/A), Shannon 

Photography: VCU Libraries — Special Collections 
and Archives, Kevin Casey, Allen Jones 
(B.F.A. '82/Ai M.F.A. '92/A), Tom Kojcsich 

Shafer Court Connections is published 
semiannually by the VCU Office of Alumni 
Relations and VCU Creative Services for 
Virginia Commonwealth University's alumni, 
faculty, staff and friends. Opinions expressed 
in this magazine do not necessarily represent 
those of the university or magazine staff. 

Send address changes to the Office of Alumni 
Relations, Virginia Commonwealth University, 
924. W. Franklin St., P.O. Box 843044, 
Richmond, VA 23284-3044: telephone 
(804) 828-2586; 

Letters to the editor should be sent to Shafer 
Court Connections. Virginia Commonwealth 
University, 827 W. Franklin St., P.O. Box 
842041, Richmond, VA 23284-2041, or 
e-mail Please include 
your name, address and a daytime phone 
number; anonymous letters will not be 
published. Letters may be edited for clarity 
or space. 

Contributions of articles, photos and 
artwork are welcome, however, Shafer Court 
Connections accepts no responsibility for 
unsolicited items. 

© 2009. Virginia Commonwealth University. 

An equal opportunity, affirmative action university. 090505-OO 

VCU Shafer Court Connections 

University news 

Virginia Commonwealth University 
news and research. For the 
latest updates, visit VCU online 

VCU TV/HD captures two regional Emmys 

VCU TV/HD won two regional awards for excellence at the 5lst Emmy Awards held 
June 6 in Washington, DC. The ceremony was sponsored by the National Capital 
Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts 
and Sciences. 

VCU TV-HD received an Emmy in the "Documentary - Cultural" 
category for "VCU Qatar." Lisa Figueroa (B.S. '07/MC) served as 
senior producer and Jordan Rodericks (B.S. '09/MC) as producer 
for the program. In the category of "Public/Current/Community 
Affairs - Program/Special," VCU TV/HD received an Emmy for 
"Chop Suey," produced by Alexander Germanotta (B.F.A. '08/A). 

"We are really excited about winning these awards," says Dan Brazda, 
VCU TV/HD executive producer. "Being awarded the Emmys is especially 
gratifying because we are a college operation that is essentially competing 
against broadcast stations and production facilities." 

VCU TV/HD is one of the first student-run operations in the country 
to produce programming in a high-definition format. A partnership with 
Community Idea Stations, owned by Commonwealth Public Broadcasting, 
allows the programs to run on WCVW Richmond PBS channel 57 (cable channel 
24 in the Richmond area). 

Program downloads and a broadcast schedule are available at www.vcutvhd.vcu 
.edu/shows/schedule.html. The programs also can be downloaded for free on 
iTunes in both the iPod and HD versions. 

VCU adds buildings to campus map 

Earlier this year VCU opened two new health 
sciences buildings, augmenting educational 
and research space on its MCV Campus. 

The $71-5 million, eight-story Molecular 

Medicine Research Building opened in April 

with 125. OOO square feet of research space that 

houses 48 principal investigators and their 

staffs. The open layout of the laboratory 

floors encourages interaction among 

researchers across disciplines. 

The facility incorporates key 
energy-conservation features, 
such as water-efficient fix- 
tures and environmentally 
friendly, low-hydrocarbon 
construction materials, 

the U.S. Green Building Council in anticipa- 
tion of receiving sustainability certification. 

In June, VCU dedicated a $20 million addi- 
tion to the VCU School of Dentistry, named 
in honor of dental alumnus and former Board 
of Visitors Rector W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., 
D.D.S. (D.D.S. '70/D). 

The four-story, 55- 000 ~ sc l uare ~f 00t struc- 
ture connects the existing Wood and Lyons 
buildings and enables the school to increase 
student enrollment in dentistry and dental 
hygiene, to expand research and to improve 
patient access to care. 

The new building also increases the school 
aboratory space for the Philips Institute of Oral 
and Craniofacial Molecular Biology, whose 
researchers collaborate with faculty at the VCU 
Massey Cancer Center and the School 
of Engineering 

Being awarded the Emmys is 
especially gratifying because 
we are a college operation that 
is essentially competing against 
broadcast stations and produc- 
tion facilities. - Dan Brazda 

Network joins regional resources 

VCU joined a national network of sites 
selected to improve and enhance the birth-to- 
career educational pipeline. 

Through Bridging Richmond, a partnership 
of education, business, nonprofit, community, 
civic and philanthropic groups, VCU will coor- 
dinate existing regional resources for students 
in Richmond and the surrounding counties 
of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico. 

The program is one of four sites adopting 
this collaborative approach to education. The 
program also is being set up in Hayward, Calif., 
Houston and Indianapolis. 

The network will be supported by Living 
Cities, a collaborative of 21 of the world's larg- 
est foundations and financial institutions, and 
the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, 
a partnership of 39 urban universities, includ- 
ing VCU. that have committed to ensuring their 
institutions guide the revitalization of their 

Jo Lynne DeMary, Ed.D., (M.Ed. 72/E), 
executive director of the VCU School of 
Education Center for School Improvement, 
will provide leadership for the partnership. 

Fall 2009 [ 5 

[university news] 

New Ph.D. program focuses on nano 

Beginning in January 2010, VCU will start 
training a new generation of chemists and 
physicists to explore the rapidly emerging fields 
of nanoscience and nanotechnology through 
a new interdisciplinary doctoral degree program. 
VCU is the first major research university in the 
state to offer such a progTam, and one of only 
a handful of programs in the U.S. 

Developed by faculty in the VCU depart- 
ments of Chemistry and Physics, the program 
will cross-train students in the physical sciences 
of chemistry and physics with particular focus on 
how the science changes at reduced dimensions. 
The proposed curriculum will help prepare stu- 
dents for positions in industry or government 
research by providing them an opportunity 
to work beyond traditional scientific boundaries 
to examine the theoretical underpinnings of nano. 

NSF grants target math instruction 

The National Science Foundation awarded $IO 
million in grants to VCU researchers to improve 
mathematics instruction and student learning 
in middle schools and rural elementary schools 
in Virginia. 

The initiatives will prepare teachers to serve 
as mathematics specialists who in turn coach 
other teachers. In addition, research will be 
conducted to determine the impact of the spe- 
cialists on instruction and student learning. 

The project will be carried out by VCU's 
Department of Mathematics and Applied 
Mathematics and the School of Education, in 
collaboration with the University of Virginia, 
Norfolk State University, Longwood University, 
Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland, the 
Virginia Department of Education, the General 
Assembly, the Virginia Mathematics and Science 
Coalition and participating school systems. 

Administrative notes 

Michael Sesnowitz, Ph.D., retired as dean of 
the VCU School of Business, joining the 
Department of Economics as a professor. 
David Urban, Ph.D., who has served on 
the VCU faculty for 20 years, will replace 
him as interim dean while a national 
search to fill the position is conducted. 

Branding innovator Kelly O'Keefe joined 
the VCU Brandcenter's leadership team 
as managing director. He had served as 
a professor and director of the school's 
executive education program since 2006. 

6 I VCU Shafer Court Connections 

>, i x r fel A Ls 

■ ) ■ Wlfff. 

The award-winning Hunton Student Center serves as the first student commons for the MCV Campus. Renovations 
for this modern student facility preserve the historical features of the building, such as original church pews. 

The five-year grants will build on the success 
of an earlier NSF-supported research effort led 
by the mathematics and applied mathematics 
department to improve elementary school math 
instruction and student learning in urban and 
suburban Virginia communities through the 
introduction of mathematics specialists. 

Award honors Hunton renovation 

VCU's Hunton Student Center is one of five 
recipients of the Association of College Unions 
International Facility Design Award, which recog- 
nizes excellence in design of college unions as well 
as other student-centered campus buildings. 

"The award validates our belief that saving this 
historical structure by creating a modern student 
center, while honoring its past as a church, was 
more than the right thing to do," says Tim Reed, 
Ph.D., director of University Student Commons 
and Activities. 

The $6 million renovation project, completed 
in 2006, transformed the 166-year-old former 
Baptist church into a comfortable gathering place 
for students on the MCV Campus. The three- 
story center includes a student lounge, dining and 
recreation areas, and study rooms and offices. 

Team engineers OR table prototype 

At VCU's first da Vinci Day celebration in 
April, a group of VCU engineering, business 
and arts students unveiled the prototype of 
a $500 operating table for the developing world. 

A standard operating table can cost up 
to $8o,000, a prohibitive cost for many 
hospitals in Third World 
countries. For less than 
3 percent of the price 
to manufacture surgi- 
cal tables in the U.S., 
the full-size, hospital-grade 

A seven-member stu- 
dent team, including 
Mike Garrett (right), 

unveiled the prototype for the $500 operating 
table for developing countries in April. 

prototype table assembles with just four pieces and 
folds down to fit into an easy-to-ship 24"i n ch 
cardboard cube. 

The student team, working through the VCU 
da Vinci Center for Innovation in Product 
Design and Development, included Michael 
Mercier, Jennifer Koch, Lauren O'Neill, Ana 
Cuison, Skylar Roebuck, Mike Garrett and Chris 
Johnson. An earlier team completed the project 
concept in spring 2008. The final phase, set 
to begin this spring, will focus on producing 
and marketing the table. 

VCU experts discuss current events 

VCU OnTopic, a new online feature, high- 
lights the expertise of professors throughout 
VCU, showcasing their research and teaching 
interests in an analysis of real-world events. 
Each OnTopic segment includes video clips of 
an individual professor discussing a topic and 
a short article summarizing the professor's 
view on the subject. Initial OnTopic interviews 
have focused on various angles of the economic 
downturn, including presentations by Micah 
McCreary, associate professor of psychology, on 
job-loss jitters; and George Hoffer, professor 
of economics, on the U.S. auto industry's strug- 
gles. In addition, Richard Wenzel, 
chair of internal medicine, dis- 
cussed the HlNl flu ("swine" flu) 

VCU OnTopic posts regular 
updates online at www. news 


Students earn national scholarships 

VCU students thrived in the highly competi- 
tive application process for national scholarships 
in spring 2009- 

Recent graduate Jessica Hite (M.S. 'og/H&S) 
andjessica Jagger, a doctoral student in the School 
of Social Work, became the fifth and sixth VCU stu- 
dents to receive funding from the Fulbright Program 
in the past four years. Hite and Jagger will 
use their awards to conduct research in 
Panama andjamaica, respectively. 

Syed Mohammed Karim, a senior 
majoring in chemistry, became the sixth 
VCU student to receive a Goldwater 
Scholarship in the past three years. The 
Goldwater is the premier national schol- 
arship for undergraduate math, science 
and engineering students. 

Ian McMahon and Nataliya 
Slinko, both M.F.A. candidates in the 
Department of Sculpture and Extended 
Media, became the fifth and sixth students from 
the program to be named Javits Fellows in the past 
six years. Jacob K. Javits Fellowships are awarded 
to graduate students of superior academic ability 
in the arts, humanities and social sciences. There 
are typically only five to seven Javits recipients each 
year in the studio arts, which include sculpture. 

Nicole Constance (B.S. '09/H&S; B.S. 
09/WS) received a National Science Foundation 
Graduate Research Fellowship to support her 
pursuit of doctoral studies. She'll use the three- 
year fellowship to attend Penn State University to 
participate in Ph.D. programs in human devel- 
opment and family studies, and in demography. 

Conschetta Wright (B.S. 'o7/N ; M.P.H. 
'09/M) received a Critical Language Scholarship 
to study Arabic in an eight-week immersion 
program in Tunisia. 

Rice Center gains LEED certification 

The Walter L. Rice Education Building at the 
VCU Rice Center is the first building in Virginia 
to receive the U.S. Green Building Council's 
LEED platinum certification, the highest sustain- 
ability rating possible. LEED, which stands for 
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, 
is the council's leading rating system for design- 
ing and constructing the world's greenest, most 
energy-efficient and high-performing buildings. 

The $2.6 million, 4<9°° _sc l uare ~ Ioot edu- 
cation building opened in 20o8 and houses 
lecture and laboratory rooms for classes, a con- 
ference room and administrative offices. The 
building was named the region's Overall Project 
of the Year in the Mid-Atlantic Construction 
magazine's Best of 2009 awards program. 

To view a video detailing the building's 
sustainable strategies for efficient energy use, 
lighting, water and material use, visit http://go 

Research report 

Study sheds light on how malaria parasite, red blood cells interact 

VCU Life Sciences researchers have discovered a new mechanism the malaria parasite 
uses to enter human red blood cells, which could lead to the development of a vaccine 
cocktail to fight the mosquito-borne disease. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 
between 350 million and 500 million cases of malaria occur 
worldwide annually, and more than 1 million people, mostly chil- 
dren living in sub-Saharan Africa, die each year from it. 

The team examined how the malaria parasite interacts with 
red blood cells. The findings revealed that the EBL-1 molecule is 
the specific attachment site used by the parasite on glycophorin 
B, a molecule found on the surface of human red blood cells. 

"Down the road, the EBL-1 molecule could be used as a vac- 
cine target against malaria as part of a multivalent vaccine, or 

.■*?' :', : '!(yiSiSfcii£s': '•"* '' ■■■ Ph.D., assistant professor in VCU's Department of Biology. 

Mayer worked with researchers from the VCU Department 
of Biology, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Department 
of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. 

Researchers identify gene linked to liver cancer progression 

VCU Massey Cancer Center researchers have identified a gene that plays a key 
role in regulating liver cancer progression, a discovery that could one day lead 
to new targeted therapeutic strategies to fight the highly aggressive disease. 

Hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC or liver cancer, is the fifth most common v 
cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Treatment jC 
options for HCC include chemotherapy, chemoembolization, ablation and (C 
proton-beam therapy. Liver transplantation offers the best chance for a cure ^rt 
in patients with small tumors and significant associated liver disease. ^^^\ 

The study, led by principal investigator Devanand Sarkar, Ph.D., /c^^^» 
MBBS, was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. 

Hearing loss study finds regions of brain convert to sense of touch 

VCU School of Medicine researchers have discovered that adult animals with hearing 
loss actually re-route the sense of touch into the hearing parts of the brain. 

In the study, published online in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National 
Academy of Sciences, the team reported a phenomenon known as cross-modal plasticity 
in the auditory system of adult animals. Cross-modal plasticity refers to the replacement 
of a damaged sensory system by one of the remaining ones. In this case, the sense of hear- 
ing is replaced with touch. 

About 15 percent of American adults suffer from some form of hearing impairment, 
which can significantly impact quality of life, especially in the elderly. 

The findings provide researchers and clinicians with insight into how the adult brain 
retains the ability to rewire itself on a large scale, as well as the factors that could compli- 
cate treatment of hearing loss with hearing aids or cochlear implants. 


Fall 2009 I 




6 ■ VCU Shafer Court Connections 

New Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao, Ph 
joins the campus community with excitement for advancing 
Virginia's premier urban research institution 

ichael Rao, Ph.D., began his 24~hour, seven -day- 
a-weekjob as president of Virginia Commonwealth 
University on July I, 2009, and just seems to thrive on every 
minute of it. As he tends to the nonstop demands of the state's 
largest university. Dr. Rao makes every effort to involve his 
tight -knit family — wife Monica and sons Miguel, who turns IO 
in November, and Aiden, who turned I in May — in his 
VCU duties. 

Since moving to Richmond, Va., from Michigan, the entire 
family has immersed itself in all things VCU. One of their VCU 
experiences came in late August when the Raos helped members 
of the freshman class of 2013 move into their residence halls 
on the Monroe Park Campus. Sporting VCU gear, the family 
warmly welcomed students to their new home. 

"Move-in day was an enjoyable time for us because we finally 
got our chance to meet so many students — the people who are at 
the center of our mission and work, " Dr. Rao says. "The students 
with whom we spoke made our entire week very fulfilling." 

President Rao hopes his family will be an integral — and 
visible — part of the presidency. Monica Rao, a native of 
Bombay, now Mumbai, India, already has begun work bolstering 
relations among VCU's international alumni, a growing and 
important part of the university's alumni family. Miguel's and 
Aiden' s roles are less formal but perhaps equally important. 
"My sons make such a big difference in my understanding 
of how rapidly students are changing," Dr. Rao says. 

Dr. Rao's rise in academia seems unprecedented, but the 
presidency at VCU is his third in higher education. Despite his 
relative youth, the 43 _ y ear- °l c l served as president at Central 
Michigan University for nine years, one of the three longest- 
serving presidents among Michigan's 15 public universities. 
Previously, he served as chancellor of a campus in Montana and 
president of another campus in California. 

"I was drawn to VCU because it is a university that fosters 
entrepreneurship, innovation, access, student and alumni 

success and diversity," Dr. Rao says. "As I look to the future, 
these qualities will flourish as VCU solidifies its position as 
a first-choice university for many of the most motivated 
and talented students from Virginia and beyond." 

More than 20 years of experience in higher education have 
taught President Rao the importance of challenging students 
and his faculty colleagues to high standards. Excellence is a cen- 
tral theme of his leadership and he uses every opportunity to 
emphasize it. At the 2009 New Student Convocation, Dr. Rao 
inspired the crowd of more than a thousand, telling them that 
he expected them to be "in no way average" and "in every way 
excellent," reminding them that they are — and will forever 
be — an important part of VCU and its reputation. 

"Every time I have ever challenged students to new heights, 
they not only appreciate it but also thrive on it and often exceed 
my expectations," he says. "This is at the core of what I think 
is going to help make America successful and competitive. It is 
also at the core of convincing people to live the fullest and most 
rewarding lives possible." 

Another important lesson President Rao learned in his years 
of working in higher education, particularly public higher edu- 
cation, involves the challenges of delivering world-class learning 
opportunities in troubled economic times. Sometimes, he says, 
a lack of resources makes "our challenges clearer" and inspires 
creative thinking. 

"It is in these economic downturns that we find oppor- 
tunities to position ourselves for the upswing that inevitably 
follows," Dr. Rao says. "Sometimes the economic cycles are 
trying to tell us to rethink what we know today." 

Dr. Rao believes that VCU sits in a good position to face 
today's economic challenges, especially in terms of its infra- 
structure and the VCU 2020 strategic plan, which since 20o6 
has resulted in significantly improved retention rates, the hiring 
of renowned interdisciplinary faculty and the establishment 
of successful academic programs such as the University College. 

Left: VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.. walks along Shafer 
Court with his two sons, Miguel and Aiden, and his wife, Monica. 

Fall 2009 

President Michael Rao, 

Ph.D., greets students at 

Cary and Belvidere 

Residential College during 

Aug. 15 move-in day. 


eir success. 


"One thing is clear," he says. "We are going to be very 
deliberate about being a well-recognized, competitive, 
urban public research university committed to student 
success at all levels." 

At the August Board of 
Visitors meeting, Dr. Rao 
endorsed that commitment 
and revealed his top priority: 
enhancing the student experi- 
ence at VCU. "Everything we 
do must be done in the con- 
text of strengthening the living 
and learning environment for 
our students to ensure their 
success," he says. 

The living and learning 
environment includes all of 
the realms in which students 
and professors learn includ- 
ing libraries, student learning 
technologies and residential 
learning-living spaces. 

Dr. Rao also emphasizes 
that as a human develop- 
ment organization, VCU 

must couple the successful student experience with excellent 
faculty and staff. 

"You are going to hear this again and again — everyone who 
is associated with VCU must be the very, very best and nothing 
but," he says. "We need to be sure that we reward performance 
and commitment to student learning and discovery competi- 
tively" across both of VCU's campuses. 

He emphasizes the importance of cross-campus, interdis- 
ciplinary collaborations to support the university's research 
mission and to support teaching, learning and patient care. 

Dr. Rao also told the Board of Visitors that he's focused on 
cancer research, treatment and patient care and has reinforced 
this priority in meetings with legislators, the governor, the uni- 
versity's vice presidents and the VCU Health System leadership. 

"It is a very important thing for us to be rallied around," 
Dr. Rao says. "Virginia ranks I2th not only for population but 
also for the raw number of cancer cases and cancer deaths. It 
is hard to rationalize that of the 12 most populous states in the 
U.S., Virginia is one of only two that does not have a NCI- 
designated comprehensive cancer center. We must elevate 
the VCU Massey Cancer Center's NCI designation to the 
comprehensive level." 

His other priorities include strengthening the university's 
national academic profile and increasing the level of sponsored 
research. Dr. Rao recognizes that these goals are resource- 
intensive. To that end, he proposes diversification, explaining 
that VCU cannot be too dependent on any one revenue source, 
including public funding. He suggests that as a public univer- 
sity, VCU must ensure that it has sufficient resources, such as 
scholarships, to recruit qualified and motivated students who 
will benefit from being at VCU. 

verything we do must be done 
in the context of strengthening 
the living and learning environ- 
ment for our students to ensure 

- Michael Rao, Ph.D . 

"Aggressive scholarship fundraising 
campaigns with our alumni and friends 
— many of whom struggled financially 
when they were students and therefore 
understand the needs of our students — 
as well as looking at other ways to increase 
all of our revenues could help to mini- 
mize the nonscholarship portion of 
financial aid," Dr. Rao says. 

The president will look to VCU 
alumni to take an active role in the VCU 
community, and he will make a con- 
certed effort in the coming year to travel 
around the state and the country to meet 
with VCU alumni. 

"I have learned over the years that 
there is no university stronger than 
one that is engaged with active alumni, 
and we will be exploring ways to engage all alumni and friends 
as partners in shaping the future of this great institution," 
he says. 

Dr. Rao takes to heart VCU's commitment to provide an 
excellent educational learning experience for its students, 
many of whom, like alumni, are the first in their families to 
attend college. His face lights up when he talks about students. 
"I absolutely re-energize whenever I see and talk with students. 
It's what fuels the fire I have always had for higher education," 
he says. "My most rewarding experiences have been- meeting 
students and watching them graduate. Commencement 
is a time every year that reminds me of why I chose to do what 
I have dedicated my life to doing." 

Joseph Ornato, M.D., (left) professor 
and chairman of VCU's Department 
of Emergency Medicine, takes VCU 
President Michael Rao, Ph.D., on a 
tour of the VCU Medical Center's 
emergency department. 

IO I VCU Shafer Court Connections 

VCU's first lady Monica Rao reflects on her newest role 

Half-time member of the faculty, wife of a university president, mother of two active boys, 
watercolorist, graphic designer and VCU's first lady, Monica Rao looks forward to the 
opportunities for engagement that her family's move to Richmond brings. 

As the spouse of a university president who dedicates 
"virtually all of his time to leading and advancing the mis- 
sion of the university," she says it's only natural for her and 
their two sons, Miguel and Aiden, to also be deeply engaged 
in activities that support both the president and VCU. 
"I enjoy serving as a liaison between the university and many 

of its constituencies," says 
Mrs. Rao, who served as uni- 
versity outreach liaison at 
Central Michigan University 
for nine years. "The most 
important lesson I have 
learned as 'first lady' is that 
a university's greatest assets 
are its people and their cre- 
ative ideas and ability to 
implement them to the ben- 
efit of society." 

International alumni 
comprise one of VCU's 
most important — but 
previously untapped — aud- 
iences. As head of a new 
VCU Alumni Association 
effort, Mrs. Rao will work 
to "engage international 
alumni in the life of the 

Her goals for this part- 
time administrative faculty 
position are ambitious. She 
is already forming an advi- 
sory board and is working closely with the Office of International 
Education, the Office of Alumni Relations and each of the schools 
and the college to establish three chapters in countries with 
the biggest populations of VCU alumni. 

"International alumni can effectively serve as ambassadors 
for VCU, connecting the university globally," she says. 

Mrs. Rao knows this firsthand. She earned a diploma in com- 
mercial art/design from Nirmala Niketan Polytechnic Institute in 
India. She also received a bachelor's in art/graphic design with 
a minor in business administration and a master's in leadership 
from CMU and maintains strong ties to both of her alma maters. 

A professional watercolorist, Mrs. Monica Rao enjoys 
experimenting with different textured surfaces to 
create vibrant abstract paintings and collages, such as 
"Royal Falls," a 24-by-36-inch mixed media on canvas. 

She was immersed in the creative arts and music from her 
early childhood years and was significantly influenced by her 
artistic family. Her grandfathers and uncles are renowned Indian 
classical musicians and her paternal uncle was a professional fine 
artist whom she watched in his studio as young girl. 

"I am intrigued by sensations that are created by looking at 
various colors and use vibrant colors that lift my spirits. I am 
attracted to unusual textures found in nature and work on a vari- 
ety of surfaces focusing on images with the use of heightened 
color, texture and movement," she says. "My imagination unfolds 
with swift and swirling colorful strokes, creating abstract imagery 
and a world of possibilities." 

Her work has been exhibited at galleries and shows in India, 
Michigan, Chicago and Montana, and she hopes to share her 
paintings with the VCU and Richmond communities. That is, if her 
other roles permit her the time. 

"With a half-time position at the university, two very active 
young children and other duties as a university president's 
spouse, finding time to devote to artwork is becoming challeng- 
ing," she says. "In the near future, I look forward to investing a few 
hours a week in painting." 

The VCU Alumni Assoc 

mi to attend one of 

the following Richmond-area receptions welcoming President 
Michael Rao and Mrs. Monica Rao. Each reception will 
be held from 6 to 8 p.m. — with remarks at 7 — and includes 
hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. Advance registration is 
required as space is limited at each event. To RSVP, visit 

Additional alumni introduction receptions will be scheduled 
outside the greater Richmond area. Go online for upcoming 

Doubletree Hotel Richmond 
Airport, Sandston, Va. 

Independence Golf Club 
Midlothian, Va. 

Fall 2OO0 

12 I VCU Shafer Court Connections 

VCU's new men's basketball coach Shaka Smart readies for his first head coaching gig 

By Erin Epan 

A suit and several dress shirts hang in plastic on the office door 
of Virginia Commonwealth University men's basketball coach Shaka 
Smart. The garments lie in wait just in case the first-time head 
coach needs to change for a spur-of-the-moment appearance. 
"That's one of the big differences about being a head coach," Smart 
says. "You've got to be ready." 

Aside from the clothes, very few personal effects adorn Smart's 
office. "It's not me yet," he says of the space overlooking the basket- 
ball court in the Stuart C. Siegel Center. "But we've been working 
so much that we'll worry about that later." 

At his introductory press conference April 2, 2009, Smart 
vowed to hit the ground running. He kept that promise and, in 
the first three months on the job, logged long hours in the office 
and on the road. He and his hard-working staff signed three strong 
recruits in April, May and June. 

"We added one each month we've been here," Smart says. "I joke 
with the staff that if we keep that up we'll be in good shape." 

Smart, the IOth head coach in the VCU program's 41-year history, 
replaced Anthony Grant, who accepted the top job at the University 
of Alabama in March. Smart arrived after serving as an assistant 
coach under Billy Donovan, the highly respected head coach of 
two-time national champion University of Florida. Before that, 
Smart's resume included positions at Clemson University, the 
University of Akron, Dayton University and California University 
of Pennsylvania. Throughout his climb up the coaching ladder, 
the 32-year-old earned a reputation as one of the brightest minds 
and strongest recruiters in the Division I ranks. 

"Shaka is not only a great recruiter but one of the best in college 
basketball," says Norwood Teague, VCU's director of athletics. 
"One can see this from his past success at Clemson and Florida, 
as well as his recent success since his arrival at VCU." 

Aside from filling staff positions and recruiting new talent, 
Smart's top priorities included developing relationships with his 
players and easing them through the switch from one coach to the 
next. He took the squad out to eat to get to know one another. "Coach 
Smart showed us that we were a team again," says VCU junior 
center Larry Sanders. He was very understanding of our situation 
and helped the transition go smoothly." 

Also high on Smart's agenda: making sure his players keep 
up with their studies. A magna cum laude history graduate of 
Kenyon College, with a master's degree in social science, Smart 
serves as a model for athletes earning their degrees. "I expect our 
players to pursue a degree with as much fervor as they pursue excel- 
lence on the basketball court," he says. 

On the court, Smart knows the coming season will be a test 
for the Eric Maynor-less Rams. Maynor, the best player in school 
history and the Rams' designated leader, graduated in May and 

made the leap to the NBA. Smart holds no illusions that replacing 
a player of his caliber will happen overnight. 

"Even though we only lost one starter, it feels like more than 
that," Smart says. "Eric provided leadership, he provided energy, 
he provided a positive example and he provided somebody at the 
end of a game who could win it for you." 

The question of who will guide the Rams on the court in 2009-IO 
remains to be seen. Certainly, the team will look to Sanders, the 
Rams' most talented player, to take control. "He's ready to step 
into that role," Smart says. "The best thing for Larry is that Eric 
provided such a good example to follow." 

Smart's game plan includes a fast offensive pace, with lots of 
full-court pressure defense. The word havoc, written in red marker 
on a whiteboard in his office, reflects what he and his staff hope 
to achieve. "I would like to play an exciting style that can make 
opponents less comfortable playing their style," Smart says. 

Rabid Ram fans will also play a role in flustering opponents. 
"Eve heard the fans here don't take a back seat to anyone," Smart 
says. He anticipates a fun, frenzied environment in the Siegel 
Center with fans acting as the Rams' sixth man. "We want to make it 
so that when people come in here they fear not just our style of play 
and our players but the whole atmosphere," Smart says. 

After a busy summer traveling to Cincinnati, Myrtle Beach, S.C., 
Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas to recruit, Smart returned to Richmond 
eager for the season — and his first game — to begin. "I'm sure there 
will be some butterflies," he says, "just because this is something that 
I have worked toward and wanted to do for a long time." 

Positioned on the sideline, clad in a suit just like the one 
hanging on his office door, this first-time head coach stands ready. 

Erin Egan is a contributing writer for Shafer Court Connections. 

Where are they now? 

On June 25, 2009, the Utah Jazz chose 6'2" point 
guard Eric Maynor (B.I.S. '09/H&S) with the 20th 
pick in the NBA draft. Maynor ranks as the first VCU 
player picked in the first round of the draft and the 
first Colonial Athletic Association player selected 
since 1999- 

The Minnesota Lynx chose 6'5" center Quanitra 
Hollingsworth (B.S. '08/H&S) as the ninth pick in 
the 2009 WNBA draft. At midseason, the 20-year- 
old rookie proved impressive as she logged quality 
minutes coming off the bench for the Lynx. 

Fall 2009 1 13 

n m\ w 


, p 



By Erin Egan 

gives young 


men a voice 

through film 

Donta Dixon, 15, and Jordan Best, 13, huddle around a glow- 
ing computer monitor in the office of the Department of African 
American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. On screen 
plays a documentary the duo produced, wrote and directed. They 
intently watch the nearly completed work and quietly discuss possible 
tweaks as Best takes copious notes. 

Dixon and Best emanate calm despite the fact that in less than 
three weeks, as participants in Peep This — a VCU program created 
to engage young African-American males through filmmaking — 
they will screen their work at the famed Byrd Theatre. 

Peep This began in 2008, the idea of Shawn Utsey, Ph.D., chair of 
VCU's Department of African American Studies and associate profes- 
sor in the Department of Psychology. Inspiration struck after meeting 
Haile Gerima, an Ethiopian filmmaker who presented one of his films 
at VCU during the university's Black History Month celebration . 

'Haile and I talked about the problems faced by black males," 
Utsey says. "He said that one way to address the issue would be to get 
cameras in their hands and let them tell their story." 

Running with the suggestion, Utsey proposed a collaborative 
effort between the Department of African American Studies, the 
Department of Photography and Film, the College of Humanities 
and Sciences' doctoral program in media, art and text, and 
the Richmond-based East District Family Resource Center. 
He earned a grant through the VCU Council for Community 

The first session, or cycle, ran for II weeks, starting Aug. ^O, 
2008. With additional funding from Capital One, a second six-week 
session took place in fall 2008. Another community-engagement 
grant, plus funding from Capital One and the Virginia Film Office, 
allowed a third group of students to convene for six weeks starting in 
July 2009. Utsey hopes more sessions will follow. "The cycles appear 
when we get the money," he says. 

The number of Peep This participants varies from five to 10, 
with students ranging in age from 13 to Ij. They meet Fridays and 
Saturdays to learn all aspects of documentary filmmaking, from 
researching to interviewing to filming to editing. Guest speakers 
from the film industry also make appearances. At the end of each 
session, participants grouped into teams of two or three complete 
a five-minute documentary on the subject of their choice. 

"Each time we've done the program, the projects have improved," 
Utsey says. 

Students apply for participation in Peep This and Utsey usually 
has about twice as many applications as available spots. Selecting the 
candidates proves a challenging task for him. "It's really difficult 
to let anyone down, particularly when students want to do something," 
Utsey says. 

Best, a high school freshman from Chesterfield, Va., inher- 
ited his love of movies from his father, who had an interest in film. 
Through Peep This, Best discovered that "I like to write stories and 
like the shooting part of making a movie," he says. 

His teammate, Richmond native Dixon, relishes the editing pro- 
cess but finds the overall program an educational experience. "It has 
opened my eyes to film," he says. "I'm really enjoying it." 

Utsey teaches the technical aspects of the program but relies on 
several enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers for additional help. 
Shanika Smiley (B.F.A. 04/A), a VCU sculpture and extended 
media graduate, assists students with the editing process. "I enjoy 
the fact that I'm encouraging young people," she says. "I want them 
to feel like when they get older they can do anything." 

Jannida Chase (M.F.A. 09/A) graduated from VCU with a mas- 
ter's in fine arts with a concentration in photography and film and 
began helping with the program at its inception. "It's a medium that 
I love," she says. "And being involved with a program that exposes 
students to film is so positive." 

Utsey — and participants' parents — notice behavioral changes in 
students over the course of a cycle. Kids gain focus, build confidence 
and make connections with fellow budding filmmakers. "I've been 
really pleased with how well they get along and how well they work 
together," Utsey says. 

Back in the editing room, 16-year-old Charles Johnson of 
Richmond works on his film about hip-hop music, fashion and peer 
pressure. "I'm amazed it takes weeks of work to get this little bit," 
he says of his five-minute product. "It's hectic. But I love it and feel 
proud of it." 

At the July 12 screening at the Byrd Theatre, the audience of 
nearly IOO buzzes with excitement. Johnson seems delighted by the 
response to his project. Dixon and Best practically beam with pride 
about reaction to their documentary of the Peep This program. "It's 
a big deal that this many people want to see what we think," Dixon 

Utsey might be the proudest of all. He would be thrilled if any of his 
students decided on a career in film, but ultimately, he says. "I'm hoping 
that they just have a positive experience and that something might click." 

Erin Egan is a contributing writer for Shafer Court Connections. 

Fall 2009 1 15 

The VCU All 


ie vtu Alumni Associations 200911 
strategic plan creates a culture of connection 

When asked to provide feedback on the alumni association's role 
at Virginia Commonwealth University, graduates responded with 
a common theme: service. 

"Alumni want to give back to the university and pay it forward 
to future generations of students," says VCU Alumni Association 
President Donna M. Dalton (M.Ed. 'oo/E). And, she adds, they 
clearly see the alumni association as a catalyst for promoting service 
— to the university and to the community. 

Looking at how the association can adopt an agenda that answers 
this alumni call, the VCUAA board of directors engaged in a year- 
long planning process to develop a comprehensive strategy that will 
help guide and shape the alumni association in the coming years. 
The plan includes three priorities, with service topping the list. 

Service to VCU and the community 

The VCUAA's first priority acts as an extension of the VCU 
community and will provide needed resources, whether expertise 
or time, to support university-community partnerships. 

"We want to involve our partners at VCU, such as the Division of 
Community Engagement, to make sure whatever service projects 
we're doing, we're doing them in a collaborative way," Dalton says. 
"But it's not just about giving back in the Richmond area." 

In fact, the association plans to develop a system for identifying 
and recognizing alumni outreach and participation to create a net- 
work of VCU alumni doing good deeds around the world. 

"It's not about VCUAA deciding what our service priorities 
are and creating programs for them," says Gordon A. McDougall, 
assistant vice president for university alumni relations. "It's about 
showing your VCU-ness and Ram spirit and going out there and 
making change, effecting change wherever you live." 

It could be a simple act of donating food while wearing a VCU 
T-shirt or ball cap, he says, or a larger alumni-generated initiative that 
pulls in the association. 

Other ideas the board plans to explore include providing a menu of 
opportunities and choices for giving time, talent and funds to further 
community service; working with local schools in Richmond and its 
surrounding areas; and helping connect faculty research with active 
community engagement initiatives. 

"Our goal is to reach out to our communities by working with various 
organizations that have made commitments within our localities," says 
Stephanie L. Holt (B.S. '74/E), chair of the Service to the Community 
Committee. "We want to ensure that we aren't duplicating efforts 
and that we are supporting important, ongoing events and engaging 
the appropriate resources both within VCU and the communities." 

University engagement and student-alumni pi^^ms 

The VCUAA set its second priority as expanding alumni engage- 
ment with students and enhancing existing and new student-focused 

"We want to find ways to connect to students, to make sure they're 
engaged in opportunities for service with our alumni," Dalton says. 
"We also want to make sure we're motivating students to become 
actively involved with the VCUAA while they're on campus so when 
they receive their diploma, one of the things they give to themselves 
is a membership in the alumni association." 

Last year, the association started two major traditions that serve 
as bookends for alumni-student engagement — the Ram Spirit Walk 
for freshmen in August and the Your Passport to the World celebra- 
tion for new graduates in May. 

"This is an exciting time for the alumni association. Donna's new 
engagement initiative will allow us to really focus on the core of 
who we are," says Aaron R. Gilchrist Jr. (B.S. '03/MC), chair of the 
University Engagement and Student Programs Committee. "If the 
association is truly to keep our members connected to each other 
and our alma mater, then we have to put energy into actively engag- 
ing current students and leaders at the university in a meaningful 
way. I'm excited to be a part of this effort." 

Under this priority, the VCUAA also seeks to expand collaborations 
with university partners — including the MCV Alumni Association of 
VCU, the colleges and schools, alumni-affiliated groups, and faculty 
and staff — to further student-centered programs such as the Legacy 
Scholarship and other student awards. 

Memwc-skip tiecfi-uitment and Mention 

The association's third priority — membership recruitment and 
retention - follows a two-year campaign to increase the number of 
graduates who belong to the alumni group. The growing membership 
base serves as the underlying foundation for the VCUAA's other two 
priorities — new service projects and student-centered programs. 

"These initiatives are funded through membership dues, not state 
money or gifts," says Peter A. Blake (B.A. '80/H&S; M.S. '88/MQ, 
chair of the Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee. 
"The programs and services the VCUAA offers would not be pos- 
sible without the support of VCUAA members." 

In addition to continuing to build VCU pride and affiliation 
with alumni, the association plans to promote student and faculty 
membership and to explore additional benefits to enhance member- 
ship value, such as the new CareerBeam online career counseling 

"Alumni services are not just about social programming," says 
Dalton, adding that the service and engagement priorities will pro- 
vide a more natural means for bringing VCU graduates into the black- 
and-gold fold. "Alumni play a critical role in the continued success 
of the association's goals and, in turn, the growth of the university 
as a leading institution in higher education." 

Get the latest developments on the new VCUAA strategic plan 
or learn how you can get involved, at 

Fa!! 2009 i C 

[face to face] 




While driving to work, Diane Reynolds (B . S . ' 78/B ; M . B .A. ' 04/B) , director of VCU's Department of Business Services, 
heard a startling report. In the face of the slumping economy, the Central Virginia Foodbank and its affiliated Meals 
on Wheels and Community Kitchen programs were struggling to provide for those in need. She recognized her depart- 
ment, with its ability to reach the VCU community at parking facilities, dining halls and campus bookstores, could help 
and immediately gathered her team. 

Reynolds asked Rebecca Jones, marketing and public relations manager for Business Services, and Tamara Highsmith, 
sales and services manager for Dining Services, to raise awareness and recruit volunteers for a spring food drive. Drop- 
off locations were set up in Business Services facilities, residence halls, the VCU Medical Center and major intersections 
on the Monroe Park Campus. The three-day event, April 14-16, collected nearly II tons of food — the equivalent 
of 22,000 meals — from students, faculty, staff and community members. 

During a recent visit to the food bank, Reynolds talked about the results of the university-wide effort. 

How did you get the idea to organize 
a food drive at VCU? I heard about the criti- 
cal need of the food bank — that the difficult 
economic times had created even more demand 
on their services. With the loss of jobs, a lot of 
major contributors and volunteers for the food 
bank now were actually in need. They also men- 
tioned that the summer is a critical time for 
children, because about 20,000 students in the 
Richmond area participate in the school pro- 
grams where they receive free or reduced-price 
meals. As soon as school lets out for the sum- 
mer, they no longer have access to those meals. 

What was the response to the food drive? 

It was really a collaborative effort. We had stu- 
dent volunteers and staff members representing 
dining, parking and retail, as well as members 
of other departments. Most of our donations 
came from employees, but there were student 
donations and some from the general public. 
Between all three major groups it made a pretty 
ice impact to the food bank. At the end of 

three days, we collected II tons of food, so that's 
something to be proud of. 

It was a great experience for all of those 
who were involved. The goal wasn't for it to be 
a team-building exercise for my staff, but ulti- 
mately it was. It was a way to work together for 
something other than their core job and interact 
with our customers who gave donations. 

How do you plan to expand future drives? 

The Department of Business Services has prob- 
ably one of the greatest opportunities to touch 
the most people on our campus, just because 
people park in our facilities every day. Because 
of the impact we made, we are working with 
Cathy Howard in the Division of Community 
Engagement to organize a collaborative VCU 
food drive this spring and cast that umbrella 
out to each of the pockets at VCU — student 
organizations and department units — that do 
individual food drives each year. If we have more 
volunteers and are able to staff even more hours, 
we know we can have an even greater impact. 

We also learned from the food bank that 
monetary contributions are even more valuable 
than product donations because they have pur- 
chasing power to buy products cheaper than we 
can at the store. For them, a dollar can generate 
five meals. We made change buckets for people 
who forgot to bring food or had loose change 
to donate and we had such a nice response that 
we learned we'll need more buckets next time. 

Why do you think it's important for VCU to get 
involved? We can all get wrapped up in our day-to- 
day activities — our jobs, our class schedules, meeting 
friends on campus — and we sometimes lose sight of 
those that are less fortunate who live right here in 
our community. To be able to take a few hours and 
give back — even just a small donation of time or 
money — can make a difference for those right here 
in our neighborhood. It's a pretty rewarding thing 
and we've got such big hearts at VCU. 

Interview conducted by Kim Witt, a contributing 
writer for Shafer Court Connections. 

18 \ VCU Shafer Court Connections 


TheRiv©rXity"earfls ipatiorial^ 
precognition as a^riwHflH^s^radise^ 

By Erin Egan 


On Nov. 14, 2009, Richmond streets 
and sidewalks will fill with more than 
4.OOO runners and thousands more specta- 
tors and volunteers participating in the 32nd 
SunTrust Richmond Marathon. 

Runner's World magazine dubbed the 26.2- 
miler the "friendliest marathon" in 2005 and 
has labeled Richmond a "destination runner's 
best friend." This year, Runner's World selected 
it for the magazine's first Marathon Challenge. 
In the challenge, the magazine's 14 editors invite 
participants to train and run with them for the 
Richmond race, while sharing tips on nutrition, 
injury-prevention and other essential training 

"It's a great honor to be chosen," says Scott 
Schricker, marketing director of Sports Backers, 
a nonprofit organization that runs the mara- 
thon. "Their editors are familiar with every race 
in the country, and they picked ours. They know 
it will be a great time." 

Richmond's burgeoning reputation as 
one of the country's pre-eminent running 
locales developed in large part because of the 
unflagging interest and dedication of the area's 
grass-roots running community. 

Bob Davis, a professor in VCU's Department 
of Health and Human Performance and a 
founding member of the Richmond Road 
Runners Club, remembers when the club 
included 200 members. Today, the RRRC 
boasts 2-5°° members and holds 5° races 
annually, making it the third-largest road- 
running club in the U.S. "There's just 
been an explosion in people participating," 
Davis says. 

Ed Carmines (Ph.D. '80/M), RRRC 
treasurer and a past club president, credits 
the increased participation in local road races 
to a couple of factors. "One is the relation- 
ship between the Richmond Road Runners 
Club, Sports Backers and the running stores in 
the area," he says. "They all support the races. 
Plus, we have a great group of volunteers." 

Created in I99 1 * tne Richmond-based 
Sports Backers brings numerous amateur and 
professional sporting events to the area, includ- 
ing the McDonald's Half Marathon and the 
HCA Virginia 8k that also take place on the 
same day as the marathon. Nearly 15.OOO run- 
ners, including about 6,000 from out of state, 
take part in the three events. 

Rick Hawkes of Chapel Hill, N.C., has run 
the marathon 14 times and plans to make it 
15 next month. He vouches for the race's fun 
and supportive atmosphere. "Running through 
Richmond on a Saturday fall morning is some 
of the finest running there is," he says. "The city 
is lovely, the runners are pleasant and chatty, and 
the spectators cheer for you with such heart you 
find yourself thinking, Do I know those people?" 

The positive reaction to road races in Richmond 
and increased participation year after year prove 
that the city will remain a player on the national 
running stage. "It's fantastic for Richmond and 
the running community," Carmines says. "The 
response supports the running community's 
efforts. We're called 'the friendliest marathon,' 
and we go out of our way to make it so." 

Erin Egan is a contributing writer for Shafer 
Court Connections. 


Want to participate in a Richmond road 
race but don't see yourself pounding the 
pavement? Members of the VCU Alumni 
Association's Greater Richmond Chapter 
help out at the SunTrust Richmond 
Marathon and the Ukrop's Monument 
Avenue lok every fall and spring. 

For the past two years, Mike Housden 
(B.S. '95/B), a member of the Greater 
Richmond Chapter of the VCUAA, has 
handed out water at the 1ok starting 
line. "It's fun work, and the runners are 
very appreciative," he says. "It's a great 
opportunity for VCU alumni to get 
together, have fun and give back." 

The Richmond Road Runners Club 
. and Sports Backers hold numerous 
races throughout the year and 
welcome volunteers. Here are some 
to check out: 

• James River Scramble 1ok 

• Carytown lok 

• Patrick Henry Half Marathon 

• Komen Race for the Cure 

• Maymont X-Country Festival 

• Frostbite 15k 

• Anthem Stride Through Time lok 

• Pony Pasture 5k 

• Moonlight 4 miler 
• Turkey Trot lok 

Contact Sports Backers (www or the Richmond 

Road Runners Club ( for 

more information. For details about 

getting involved through the VCU Alumni 

Association, visit 




CHANGING SEASONS > Students stroll through the late fall leaves 
on the tree-lined streets of Virginia Commonwealth University's 
Monroe Park Campus as they head from James Branch Cabell Library, 
across Floyd Avenue, to the University Student Commons. 





i 71 -9 

r**~ ." 

• -«:> 



t ■— 




Davis Ratcliffe made a lasting 
impression on his nephew Henry 
Holland (M.D. '66/M). Ratcliffe 
had no children but doted on his six 
nephews. He instilled in them a love of read- 
ing and knowledge and encouraged them 
to pursue higher education. 

"Uncle Davis was the only college- 
educated man in the generation ahead of 
me on either side," Holland says. "He always 
gave his nephews books for Christmas and 
birthdays, and they would always be the classics 
like Huck Finn' and Robinson Crusoe. " 

When Holland decided to go to college, 
Ratcliffe supported him every step of the way. 
Holland earned a bachelor's degree from 
Washington and Lee University and then his 
medical degree from the Medical College of 

"He was a great encourager through 
college, medical school and my residency," 
Holland says. 

Today, Holland is helping to keep 
Ratcliffe's memory alive by contributing to 
a scholarship set up in his name in the 
Virginia Commonwealth University School 
of Business. When Holland learned the 
scholarship might not be awarded this fall, 
he made a gift to keep that from happening. 

Ratcliffe was a lawyer by training but did not 
like the adversarial nature of the profession, 
Holland recalls. Instead, he made a career 
in the insurance business, specializing in risk. 

At 39 , Ratcliffe volunteered to serve during 
World War II. He turned down an appoint- 
ment as a judge advocate's general "to be in 
the war," Holland says. He joined the Army 
Air Force's 388th Bomb Group and trained 
pilots in England. 

After the war, Ratcliffe continued in the 
insurance industry and wrote a book that 
became the standard textbook for insurance 
students at the time. He gave lectures on the 
subject and started teaching at community 

"When he came to what most would 
consider retirement age, he was offered 
a position at VCU to teach insurance," 
Holland says. 

Ratcliffe spent several years on the fac- 
ulty, retiring in the late 1970s. At the time, 
he established the Davis Ratcliffe Insurance 
Award, which provides scholarship assistance 
to a meritorious student in the insurance 
and risk management program. 

This year, though, the faltering economy 
jeopardized the distribution of many schol- 
arships given to VCU students. 

As investments plummeted, the School of 
Business Foundation needed about $22,000 
to ensure all of its scholarship recipients would 
receive their awards this fall. A letter to donors 
asking for help raised almost half of that. Some 
gave enough extra money to make sure their 
scholarship endowments would have enough 
money to provide for students next year, too, 
when the shortfall is projected to be even 
greater. Then, the foundation allocated unre- 
stricted funds to ensure all School of Business 
scholarships would be awarded this fall. 

"As always, our dedicated donors and 
alumni accepted our challenge and made sure 
our deserving students would not need to 
make the difficult decision about whether they 
could afford to continue their education," says 
Kenneth C. Blaisdell, Ph.D., associate dean 
for external affairs and executive director 
of the School of Business Foundation. 

Donors step in to fund underperforming 
scholarship endowments 

Likewise, scholarships managed by the 
VCU Foundation experienced a deficit of 
about $88,000. Donors were asked to make 
one-time gifts to ensure their scholar- 
ships would be given this fall, and many did. 
Additionally, deans of several Monroe Park 
Campus schools allocated unrestricted funds 
to bolster scholarships for their students. 
Combined, that left a shortfall of about 
$50,000, says Thomas C. Burke, execu- 
tive director of the foundation. The VCU 

Foundation board of trustees voted to allocate 
unrestricted funds to make up the difference. 

"It's been a true team effort with donors, 
deans and the foundation helping to meet 
most of our scholarship needs," Burke says. 

The gift made by Holland and his wife, 
Brenda. ensured that School of Business 
senior Amanda E. Mozingo would receive the 
Ratcliffe Award this fall. 

To Mozingo, scholarships have made a 
world of difference. 

"The financial help I have 
received from the Davis Ratcliffe 
Award and other national and 
local insurance-related schol- 
arships has provided support 
and encouragement for both 
me and my family," she says. "I 

not need to make the difficult 

decision about whether they could 
afford to continue their education. 

- Kenneth C. Blaisdell, Ph.D. 

am honored to represent these 
organizations in my endeavors 
and extremely grateful for the 
support that will allow me to 
graduate without a great amount 
of debt." 

As state support shrinks, the 
university depends more and 
more on the generosity of its 
alumni and friends to fund scholarships, 
professorships and other pressing initiatives. 
"Scholarships are vitally important as 
they allow students with academic promise, 
and perhaps financial need, the oppor- 
tunity to pursue a degree and excel at 
Virginia Commonwealth University," says 
President Michael Rao, Ph.D. "Many of our 
proud alumni depended on scholarships, 
too, and see the need to give back and help 
the next generation follow the same path. 
We are grateful for their willingness to make 

Higher education 
support campaign 

Grow By Degrees, a Virginia Business 
Higher Education Council campaign, 
advocates for more funding support 
for higher education in Virginia. This 
campaign emphasizes the need to 
increase the number of Virginians who 
earn degrees from public colleges, uni- 
versities and community colleges to 
ensure better income for individuals 
and economic prosperity for the com- 
monwealth. For more information or to 
become involved in Grow By Degrees, 
go to 

hr c*st of *-q« 

,ndth<\VACCrr. U . <b*D*b< \ alu* "no 

a difference in the lives of our students, especially 
during these chaDenging economic times." 

To make a gift to any scholarship fund, visit 

Melanie Irvin Solaimani (B.S. 'g6/MC) is a 
contributing writer for Shafer Court Connections. 

Fall 2009 -- 

hen four friends snapped a photo 
of themselves jumping on the 
beach, they had no idea they were 
creating an Internet sensation that would 
sweep the globe. 

Sarah Branigan, Lily Christon, Erin Johnson 
and Paula Ogston — who met through mutual i 
friends while attending and'; working at 
Virginia Commonwealth University — needed 
a break from school and work one Winter day. 
They ventured to Virginia Beach and, shot 
photos of one'another for fun. 

"Someone caught another person in the 
.air and' we thought, 'That's so cool/'' says 
Ogston, a graduate student in the Department 
of Psychology. "We^ started taking pictures 
of these different kinds of poses and jumping 
around the beach." ; . - £ 

The four continued tb jump everywhere 
they went — from cookouts' and camping 
to spring break in North Carolina — and 

Web site. In April 2008, National Public Radio 
stumbled on the photos and interviewed 
Branigan for its "Weekend America" show. 

After the story aired, the group turned 
the camera on others and opened up www for submissions. They 
spread the word locally among their friends 
and posted fliers in businesses, but they 
quickly began receiving photos from all over. 

"In the beginning, At was really funny 
because it was just us, or people that knew 
us," , -says Branigan; administrative director 
arid instructor in the Department of Art 
Education. "Now it's people' that none of us 
know from all over the world. It's been a really 
organic process." 

Today, visitors can search for photos from 
Antarctica, Brazil, Oregon and Thailand and 
see people jumping for everything from 
birthdays and travel to reuniting with friends. 

emorial jumps, where 
they jump for a particular person," says 
Christon, also a graduate student in psychol- 
ogy. "Lots of people jump for love. The 
ones of us are good memories of being 
With friends." 

As the jumps keep coming in, the four 
women haven't lost the spirit of fun they 
captured in tfie beginning. They celebrated 
their one-year "jump-iversary" with a shot of 
the groufvin outlandish animal masks looking 
but on the James River in Richmond's Oregon 
Hill neighborhood. 

"Anytime we get together and do jumps, 
it brings us back to why we started it," says 
Branigan. "It's kind of like an art project, but 
it's also a social experiment and it's just 
a thing that, happened." 

: Kim Witt is a contributing writer for Shafer 
Court Connections. 

24 i VCU Shafer Court Connections 

The World . 

^brought tq you by 
VCU Alumni Association 

4 >**,. 


ti nations 

:!0^»..-. ■"*•!.*, 


2010 Trips 

Jan. 25-Feb. 4 Peru 

March 19-27 Monumental Rome 

April 20-29 Treasures of Morocco 

April 22-30 Holland and Belgium River Life Cruise 
April 30-May 10 Sicily 

May 18-26 Provence 

Italian Lakes and Dalmatian Coast 

Alumni Association 

Commonwealth University 

Aug. 6-14 
Aug. 18-Sept. 2 
Aug. 25-Sept. 3 
Aug. 29-Sept. 22 
Sept. 5-13 
Sept. 15-23 

Paris and London (via Eurostar train) 

Scandinavian and Russian Splendors Cruise 

Canadian Maritimes 

Grand Journey Around the World 
Ancient Greece and Turkey Island Life Cruise 

Oct. 17-30 
Nov. 29-Dec. 7 

Mediterranean Inspiration Cruise 
Holiday Markets on the Danube 

For more information call (804) 828-2586 or visit 


News, highlights and event photos from the 

Virginia Commonwealth University Alumni Association. 

Common connection realized at reunion takes alumni to Honduras 

Reunion Weekend offers alumni the chance to visit campus, 
catch up with old friends and sometimes take an unexpected path 
in life. At the 2008 reunion dinner, two alumni reconnected 
over a common interest in helping others that led them on a series 
of trips to Honduras. 

Weldon Hazlewood (B.S. 
67/B) and Alice Gaskill 
Taylor (B.F.A. '66/A) dated in 
high school, but neither realized 
they both attended Richmond 
Professional Institute after 
graduating. They hadn't seen 
each other in 45 years when 
Taylor spotted Hazlewood's 
name on the attendance sheet 
and sought him out. 

While catching up, Taylor 
mentioned several mission 
trips she took to Honduras. 
She brought donated fabric 
and sewing machines with 
her and taught the women of the small villages near San Pedro Sula 
how to sew. She returned home with hand-sewn bags, which she 
sold, raising nearly $4,000 that she sent back to the communities. 
As a former student of RPI's fashion department, the project was 
a perfect fit. 

Weldon Hazlewood makes friends with 
children in the village. 

Taylor also told Hazlewood she was in search of someone to plant 
small vegetable gardens in residents' yards. 

"Since I was a master gardener, I quickly volunteered, " Hazlewood 
says. "Their need for vegetables is so great." 

The two left in latejanuary 2009 for a 17-day trip. Coincidentally, 
a group from Indiana was also there on a mission trip, and with 
Hazlewood's assistance, they set up 20 gardens with tomatoes, beets, 
carrots, mustard greens and peppers. During a subsequent visit with 
Taylor in May, Hazlewood continued to instruct residents on how 
to maintain the plants and helped add IO new gardens. 

Hazlewood and Taylor continue to reach out to fellow alumni 
to support their efforts in Honduras. 

"There is a group of girls 
that always meet at the reunion, 
and one who joined for the 
first time this year has expressed 
an interest in going with us," 
Taylor says. "As evidenced by my 
chance meeting with Weldon, 
one can never predict the out- 
come of attending!" 

// you would like to join 
Hazlewood on a November 
gardening trip to Honduras. 

Alice Gask.ll Taylor bring* donated fabric CaU ( 8 °^ 275~0374 or e-mail 

to the women. 

and sewine machines 

Alumni return for Reunion Weekend 

il r :« 

i i 
Reunion Weekend, April 24-27, on the Monroe Park Campus featured events 

and activities for Richmond Professional Institute graduates and for those 

in the 25-year graduating class. 1 1 ll- 

Festivities began with a reception at the Colony Club on Friday evening (l). 
Saturday's events included a concert in Shafer Court featuring Latin music by v 
Bio Ritmo (2 and 3), tours of VCU and Richmond, a preview of upcoming alumni 
travel programs and a dinner at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 

Those who participated credited the university with enhancing their 
lives because of their educational experiences at VCU and expressed much 

The African-American Alumni Council also came back to campus for Reunion 
Weekend. The annual outing to Crump Park attracted its largest crowd ever, 
with more than 200 people. The event also included the council's first Powder 
Puff ladies football game (4) before the men's annual flag football contest. 

26 i VCU Shafer Court Connections 

[alumni connections] 

Seven new alumni 
join the VCUAA 
board including 
(top, from left) 
Mary H. Allen, 
Robert A. Almond, 
Elizabeth W. Bryant, 
(bottom, from left) 
Raymond E. 
Honeycutt, Natalee 
A. Wasiluk and James 
E. Williams. Not 
pictured: Julia M. 

Alumni association welcomes new board members 

The VCU Alumni Association board of directors met in May 
to elect four directors: 

• Mary H. Allen (B.S. '80/E), health and physical education 
instructor, Midlothian High School, Midlothian, Va. 

• Elizabeth W. Bryant (B.S. '84/MC; M.S. '04/MC), 
reporter, ABC 13 WSET-TV, Lynchburg, Va. 

• Natalee A. Wasiluk (B.F.A. '86/A), personnel administrator, 
VCU School of World Studies 

• James E. Williams (B.S. '84/H&S; M.S. '96/H&S), chief 
of police, Staunton Police Department 

Three alumni also joined the board by presidential appointment: 

• Robert A. Almond (B.S. '74/E; M.S. '85/E), special project 
coordinator, Virginia Department of Education, Richmond, Va. 

• Julia M. Cain (B.S. 'oi/En) 

• Raymond E. Honeycutt (B.S. '76/E), principal, St. Bridget 
School, Richmond, Va. 

Newest grads stamp their Passport to the World 

In May, more than 500 graduates and their guests commemorated 
their VCU experience with a party at the Science Museum of Virginia. 
Your Passport to the World — sponsored by the VCU Office 
of Alumni Relations, the VCU Division of Student Affairs and 
Enrollment Services and the VCU Student Government Association 
— was held the Wednesday before graduation as the centerpiece 
of a week of Commencement activities. 

"The idea behind Commencement Week was to make gradua- 
tion more than just a Saturday morning affair," says Rob Brodsky, 
director of membership and marketing for VCU Alumni Relations. 
The inaugural party, which he expects to become a tradition, 
"was a fantastic way for graduates to cap off their experience at VCU." 

Benefit spotlight: 

Short-term health insurance 

Your VCU Alumni Association provides access to a variety 
of essential services. One of those services — short-term health 
insurance — is especially relevant in today's economic climate. 

New graduates and alumni currently out of work could be 
facing a common dilemma — no medical coverage. GradMed, 
a short-term solution provided by American Insurance 
Administrators, one of the industry's leading carriers, offers 
immediate coverage that can last up to 18 months. Limita- 
tions apply, but for most situations, GradMed will provide 
the coverage you need. 

Don't go without medical insurance. As a VCU graduate, 
you have a better option. 

VCU alumni receive a special group discount for GradMed. 
To learn more visit and look for the 
"Featured Benefit." 

Spirit sculpture. Created by alumnus Tim Blum (M.F. A. 94/A). 
VCU's newest, large-scale, interactive sculpture — "Ram's Horns' 
— stands outside the University Student Commons as a symbol 
of school spirit. 

Fall 2O09 

Make a dent. VCU 



Kw/ ff. w"7^.t" *™5*^*> ' r " 

street-smart solutions to local and globaLchallenges. As members of the VCU Alumni Association, 
we offer leadership, service and financial support to preserve and enhance the university's mission 
of producing graduates whose expertise enables them to drive excellence where they live. 
We create change. We move the needle. We make a dent. 

>Join today • • (804)828-2586 

My VCU degrees 
allow me to 
make a dent 
in the world of 
crime solving by 
providing infor- 
mation, evidence 
and testimony 
in murder investigations and 
criminal trials throughout the 

- Leah LE. Bush (M.S. 79/H&S; M.D. 

'84/M), chief medical examiner, 

commonwealth of Virginia, 

VCUAA member since 2000 

Just as VCU 
prepared me for 
lifelong learning, 
as a professor, 
I believe I made 
a difference by 
preparing stu- 
dents for life and 
a career. Today, 
my active participation in the 
alumni association allows me to 
support VCU and say 'thanks. ' 

- Eugene Hunt (B.S. '59/B; M.S. '61/B), 

VCU professor emeritus, 

VCUAA lifetime member since 2005 

Helping people 

live comfortably 

and protect 

their families by 

using the skills I 

honed at VCU is 

how I've made 

a dent. Being an 

active member 

of the alumni association also 

provides opportunities to help 

others by making personal and 

professional connections. 

- Gaurav "G" Shrestha, CFP (B.S. '03/B), 

financial adviser, 

Virginia Asset Management, 

VCUAA lifetime member since 2006 

[alumni connections] 








Affiliate news 

RPI Alumni Council plans for 2010 reunion 

Join Richmond Professional Institute 
alumni at Reunion Weekend April 23-25. 
20IO. A special celebration will honor the 
50-year Class of i960. If you graduated in i960 
and would like to help plan the reunion, call 
(804) 828-7020 or e-mail 

RPI alumni also can join the RPI Alumni 
Council, which is dedicated to keeping the 
foundation of VCU alive and helping RPI 
graduates maintain their friendships and 
involvement with the university. 

Hampton Roads alumni chapter reactivates 

This summer, alumni from Hampton 
Roads met to reactivate the areas chapter. 
If you'd like information about the chapter, 
contact Pamela McKinney (B.A. 'oo/A) 
at (757) 376-7456 or teammckinney@msn 
.com, or Alfye Ingram (B.S. '89/H&S) 
at (757) 485-5936 or 

Council promotes events for young alumni 

Alumni ages 35 a nd younger are invited 
to join the Young Alumni Council. During 
the 2009-IO academic year, the council will 
be hosting several events and involvement 
opportunities for young alumni, including: 

• A pre-basketball game social 
Community-service projects, including 
volunteering at the SunTrust Marathon 
and the Ukrop's Monument Avenue lok 

• Wine tasting/cooking class 

Chill and Grill during Homecoming 
Career services programs 

• A social and group attendance at a 
spring Theatre VCU production 

If you'd like to receive notices of council 
meetings and events, call (804) 828-ALUM 
(828-2586) or write 

Mass Comm alumni enjoy networking event 

More than 75 graduates and professors 
of the School of Mass Communications 
attended a networking social May 7 at Burford 
Advertising headquarters in Richmond, Va. 

Doug Burford (B.S. '65/MC), who has 
won the Ad Man of the Year award and is an 
author and philanthropist, and his family and 
staff at Burford Advertising hosted the event. 

Alumni from the classes of 1965 through 
2009 caught up with friends and colleagues. 

"A lot of our alumni were wondering if 
there was a way through the school to connect 
with other alumni, regardless of graduating 
year," says Michael Hughes, assistant direc- 
tor of development for the school. He hopes 
to make the socials a regular occurrence. 
To receive information on upcoming 
events, contact Hughes at (804) 827-3761 

VCU Business Society honors retiring dean 

School of Business alumni surprised retir- 
ing Dean Michael Sesnowitz, Ph.D., by making 
him an honorary member of the VCU Business 
Society, the business alumni organization, and 
naming him Alumnus of the Year. 

Society board President Steven B. 
Brincefield (M.S. '74/B) presented the 
award in April as part of the annual Business 
Honors Ceremony. 

Sesnowitz plans to return to the classroom 
in the fall of 2010. During his nine-year 
tenure as dean, he contributed vision and 
fundraising efforts for the Monroe Park Campus 
Addition, featuring a new facility for the School 
of Business. He also helped create the School of 
Business Foundation and led the school through 
a successful reaccreditation visit. 

Ceremony honors board-certified teachers 

The VCU School of Education honored 
43 Richmond-area teachers who achieved 
certification from the National Board for 
Professional Teacher Standards in 2008. 

The teachers from the city of Richmond 
and Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico 
counties received pins from their local school 
superintendents to recognize the culmination 
of their yearlong certification process. 

National Board Certification is a volun- 
tary professional-development process that 
recognizes accomplished teachers who meet 
rigorous standards of performance. The 
pinning ceremony takes place each January 
and is sponsored by the Metropolitan 
Educational Training Alliance, a partner- 
ship of Richmond-area schools and the VCU 
School of Education. 

Fall 2009 

• > < .'•"■'» 

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Mail your update to: Office of Alumni Relations, Virginia Commonwealth University, 
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Charles A. Peachee Jr.* (M.S. '52/H&S) retired after 
serving as a clinical psychologist for 55 years. He was 
a charter member of the Virginia Academy of Clinical 
Psychologists and the Richmond Academy of Clinical 
Psychologists, as well as, with his wife, Nancy (M.S. 
'54/H&S), a founding member of the Virginia 
Psychological Association. 


John Jay Schwartz* (B.S. '69/B), managing director 
of commercial real estate consulting and brokerage 
firm Have Site Will Travel, was elected chairman 
of the Henrico County Board of Real Estate Review 
and Equalization for 2009. 


Leah Bush, M.D.,* (M.S. '79/H&S, M.D. WM) chief 
medical examiner for the commonwealth of Virginia, 
is the chair of the Department of Legal Medicine 
in the VCU School of Medicine. 

Sherran Deems (B.F.A.'72/A : M.F.A. '93/A) teaches 
courses in the drawing minor at the Savannah College 
of Art and Design. 

Patricia Green* (M.S.W.'74/SW), founder and chief strat- 
egist of I C Linkages, was selected to join the Leadership 
America class of 2009, one of the longest -running 
national women's leadership programs in the world. 

Nick Poulios (MA. '79/ B), vice president for patient 
access for Elan Pharmaceuticals, is the creator of the 
Ultimate Patient Access function. 

Kenny Sink (B.F.A. *76/A) owns KreativeDept. a Studley. 
Va. -based advertising firm. Two of his recent poster 
campaigns for Studley Store have received recognition 
in two international graphic arts annuals — the 38th 
Creativity Annual Awards and the 2009 Graphis Poster 


Col. Rudy Burwell (B.S. '86/MQ served as the chief 
of media operations for Multi-National Corps-Iraq 
and was selected for promotion to colonel in the U.S. 
Army. Following his assignment in Iraq, he returned to 
Washington, D.C., in July 2008 to work at the Pentagon 
as the chief of planning support for Army Public Affairs. 

Tammy H. Cummings (B.S. '85/MQ was promoted 
to senior vice president and chief human resources 
officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. She 
is responsible for the bank's regional human resources 
operations, policies and initiatives. 

Anthony Deldonna (B M 'bo/A) is on the musicology 
faculty at Georgetown University, where he specializes in 
18th-century Italian music, with an emphasis on opera. 

Kirk Laughlin (B.S.'67/MC) launched Next Coast Media, 
a media consultancy business, in September 2008. 
He consults with technology marketers, business-to- 
business media brands and marketing agencies. 

J. Mark O'Shea (M.S.W. '86/SW) is a clinical social 
worker in private practice in Chesterfield, Va., and was 
elected as a distinguished-practitioner member of the 
National Academies of Practice. The NAP comprises 
distinguished practitioners and scholars from all of the 
primary health professions and only 150 individuals 
can be elected to membership. 

Second career addresses language barriers in health care 

At age 50, after owning a couple of hair salons and raising three children with a husband 
she describes as "perfect," Vilma Seymour (B.A. '07/H&S) decided to fulfill a lifelong 
dream of obtaining a college degree. 

"When I told my family I was going back to school I made an announcement over dinner 
and they asked me to please not be the geek in the front row saying 'I know the answer,' 
and that's exactly what I did," she says. "I had a real motivation, I knew what I wanted to do 
and I was focused on my goals." 

Seymour, a longtime volunteer in the Latino community, is putting her Spanish degree an 
her desire to help others to work at the VCU Medical Center's Office of Language Services. 
There, she helps eliminate communication barriers for patients and families with limited 
English proficiency, as well as oversees communication devices and interpreters for hearing- 
impaired patients, families and surrogate decision-makers. In addition, all bilingual staff 
or volunteer interpreters providing services to the medical center are required to attend 
one of the two on-site competency trainings she offers throughout the year. 

Seymour knows firsthand the need for the services she provides patients. When her 
mother from Puerto Rico fell ill with congestive heart failure, Seymour served as her inter- 
preter. Seymour says she didn't even know how to say "congestive heart failure" when her 
mom passed away of the disease 17 years ago. Today, she hopes to help others experienc- 
ing the same situation. 

"I am doing it in my mother's memory. She's really my guiding light, daily," Seymour says. 
"I'm very proud that VCU Medical Center recognizes the importance of having this service 
and training for anybody who comes in and interprets for our patients and providers." 

Martha Gomez (back, third from left), Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Vilma Seymour visit with fifth- and sixth- 
graders during a pilot Multicultural Summer Enrichment Camp that Seymour developed. 

Fall 2000 

Recently published alumni and faculty members 


Cliff Edwards, Ph.D., professor of religious studies, wrote "Mystery of The Night Cafe," a new book on the 

spirituality of Vincent Van Gogh. 
Ronnie Greene's* (B.S. '86/MC) nonfiction environmental justice narrative, "Night Fire: Big Oil, Poison Air, 

and Margie Richard's Flight to Save Her Town," was one of three finalists for the Harry Chapin Media Award. 
Edward G. Kardos, director of development for the VCU School of Dentistry, has authored his second book, 

a collection of short stories. "Zen Master Next Door, " published by Humanics Publishing Group, comprises 

"17 parables for enlightened everyday living." The book also discusses the importance of maintaining a balance 

in all aspects of life — mental, physical and spiritual. 
Sara E. Lewis (M.A. 62/A) released "James City County," the newest addition in Arcadia Publishing's Images 

of America series. The book explores America's first county through 200 vintage images. 
Steve Mickle (B.F A.'71/A) and his wife. Kyle Edgell, a caricaturist, published "Die Laughing!" which provides 

humorous healing through a lighthearted view of a grave situation. The book was endorsed by famed physician 

Patch Adams. M.D. 
Charles N. Smith, Ph.D.,* (B.S. '77/H&S; M.S. Bl/AHP) released his latest political work, "The Last Shall Be the First," 

in 2008. The book focused on why then-Sen. Barack Obama could and would be the next president of the U.S. 

Cameron Stiles (B.F A. 8i/A) was inducted into the 
American Society of Interior Designers College of 
Fellows at its 2008 annual conference. Fellowship is 
the highest national honor available to ASID members. 


Stephen J. Beckett (B.S. '94/H&S; MX WE) received 
an $II.OOO grant from the R.E.B. Awards for Teaching 
Excellence to travel to Antarctica to learn about its 
influence on the rest of the Earth and its inhabitants. 

HeloYse B. "Ginger" Levit* (M.A. '98/A) was named 
to the list of Influential Women of Virginia 2009, 
sponsored by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. Levit is an art 
dealer and historian at atelier, a private art gallery open 
to corporate and private collectors, interior designers, 
museum professionals and art dealers. 

Sophia L. Minor (B.F.A. 97/A) of Roanoke, Va., is the 
first titleholder from Virginia to win the national 
American Elegance pageant. The pageant celebrates 
women of all ages, and delegates forgo the traditional 
swimsuit competition for a personal expression seg- 
ment where they bring awareness to a subject of their 
choosing. Minor addressed the stereotypical images 
of beauty in America. 

Keith Parker (B.A. 90/H&S.- M.U.R.P. '93/H&S) was recently 
hired as the president and CEO of VIA Metropolitan 
Transit in San Antonio. He was previously chief execu- 
tive of the transit authority in Charlotte, N.C. 

Mary E. Perkinson (B.F.A. '9l/A ; B.S . b3/F_n) received the 
Distinguished New Engineer Award from the Society 
of Women Engineers. The award honors women engi- 
neers who have been actively engaged in engineering 
in the first 10 years of their careers. Perkinson, an 
engineer with Northrop Grumman in Newport News, 
Va., received her company's Model of Excellence Award 
in 2004. for her work in helping improve retention and 
provide a more supportive environment for entry-level 

David G. Russell (B.M. 90/A) continues his career as 
a film scorer and composer in Hollywood. His most 
recent accomplishment was providing music for 
"Farrah's Story," which premiered on NBC on May 15. 
2009, and chronicles Farrah Fawcett's 2 1/2 year fight 
against cancer. 

Melissa Wood (B.S. 97/MC) is vice president for com- 
munication and marketing for SOLUS-Solutions 

and Technologies, which was selected as one of 20 
semifinalists in the Boost Your Business 


Carolyn Belefski (B.F.A. 04/A) and Joe Carebeo 
(B.F.A '05/A) operate Curls Studio, where they produce 
a weekly comic strip called "Curls" and wrote and 
illustrated comic books "Kid Roxy" and "Black Magic 

Lisa Boyette Braswell (B.S. 02/En) is employed as 
an IRTA fellow with the National Institutes of Health. 

Jared Broussard (B.M. be/A) is enrolled in the Master 
of Music program in trumpet performance at the 
University of Texas at Austin. 

Sarah Bushey (B.M. 07/A) finished her master's degree 
at the University of Florida and began a doctoral pro- 
gram in musicology in fall 2009- 

Adam Butalewicz (B.M. 07/A) finished his master's 
degree and began pursuing his D.M.A. at College- 
Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati 
in fall 2009. 

Joe Grant III (M.F.A. 06/A) is head of the Glass Program 
in the 3-D Area of Studies in the School of the Arts 
at Illinois State University, Bloomington/Normal. 

Virginia Griswold (B.F A. 04/A) was accepted to Alfred 
University's M.F.A. program with a full scholarship. 

John Hartmann (B.M. too/A) is the director of marketing 
and external relations for the VCU Department of 
Music. His responsibilities include promoting VCU 
Music, overseeing the Web site, managing the box 
office and maintaining and pursuing relationships 
with alumni and friends. 

Ryan Hereth (B.F.A. '07/A) has been a resident at Cub 
Creek Foundation, a nonstock Virginia corporation 
dedicated to the advancement of ceramic arts. Hereth 
exhibited his work, along with the other residents, at 
the Heart of Virginia Festival in Farmville, Va., on May 
2. 2009. 

Sarah Holden (B.F.A. be/A) had work in her first 
international exhibit and is eligible for three different 
awards at the Port Moody Art Awards in Port Moody, 
British Columbia. She also had work in the "Fibers 
Expanded" exhibit at the Luke and Eloy Gallery in 
Pittsburgh. Pa. 

Katie Mudnall (M.F.A. 05/A) received the first University 
of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Arts Wood/ 
Furniture Area Resident Artist Program award for 

Eric Jacobs (B.M. b7/A) completed his master's degree 
at Rice University and began pursuing his D.M.A. 
at the University of California in fall 2009. 

Kathleen Kennedy (B.F.A. be/A) is working as a studio 
assistant for two artists, Nancy Worden and Gina 
Pankowski, in Seattle. 

Allyson Keyser (B.M, 06/A) is pursuing a D.M.A. at the 
University of North Carolina-Greenville and placed 
in the semifinals at the National Trumpet Competition. 

Heath Matysek-Snyder (B.F.A. bo/A) is enrolled in 
a one-year residency at Designated Objects Tasmania 
in Hobart, Australia. He was in a juried exhibit, 
"Tasmanian Wood Design Collection Biennial Acquisi- 
tive Exhibition," which opened in Hobart and moved 
to Launceston. Matysek-Snyder has also been a visiting 
artist at the University of Tasmania's Art School in the 
Furniture Design Department and proposed and was 
selected for a public art commission in Tasmania for 
the new pediatrics wing of the Royal Hobart Hospital. 

Matt McCutchen (M.M.'00/A) earned his Ph.D. in 
music education from Florida State University. 

John Mlynczak (B.M. 05/A) is living in Baton Rouge, 
La. , and works as a teacher and freelance trumpeter 
in southern Louisiana, regularly subbing with the 
Louisiana Philharmonic in New Orleans, the Baton 
Rouge Symphony and various show orchestras. 

Ravi Naalla (M.S. b5/En) is an SAS programmer for 
biostatistics and clinical management with Cubist 
Pharmaceuticals in Lexington, Mass. He and his col- 
leagues on the Ecallantide Clinical Team were named 
Team of the Year at the company's annual awards ceremony. 

Lizzie Perkins (M.F.A. 04/A) had her work "Ida" chosen 
for the BIGG: Breakthrough Ideas in Global Glass 
exhibit sponsored by Steuben Glass at the OSU Urban 
Arts Space and Hawk Galleries in Columbus. Ohio. 

Richard Knox Robinson's (M.F.A. be/A) short film, 
"The Beekeepers," was screened at the 2009 Sundance 
Festival. He is an award-winning photographer based 
near Charlottesville. Va., and his still photography 
has appeared in publications such as Smithsonian, 
National Geographic Traveler, Time and 
The Washington Post Magazine. 

Jodi-Ann Russell (B.M. b7/A) was awarded a piano 
faculty appointment at Richmond Music Education 
Center in Glen Allen, Va. 

Kimberly Ryan (B.M. 05/A) is attending the Cleveland 
Institute of Music as a Master of Music student in viola 

Ryan Schell (B.A. 07/A) was appointed as assistant to the 
executive director of the American Bach Soloists in San 
Francisco, Calif. 

Nanda Soderberg (M.F.A. 07/A) worked at the Pilchuck 
Glass School in Washington as a gaffer for Whitfield 
Lovell and Elizabeth Turk during the summer. 

Jay Sykes (B.M. bl/A) received the Goochland Middle 
School Teacher of the Year award from Goochland 
County Public Schools in Virginia. 

Elizabeth Talbot (B FA. 06/A) received her M.F.A. 
from the University of Connecticut in May 2009 and 
was one of five graduate students to show their work 
in "The 2009 Master of Fine Arts Exhibition" at the 
William Benton Museum of Art at the university. 

Travis Townsend (M.F.A. bo/A) was featured in "Penland; 
Great Teachers, Great Artists" at Habatat Galleries in 
Tysons Corner, Va., from April 28-July 17. 2009, and 
will be included in the Cedarhurst Wood Project at the 
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, IU., and 
the "Transformations" Raphael Prize show at Pittsburgh s 
Society for Contemporary Craft. Townsend was also 
awarded the Virginia A. Groot Foundation grant and 
was published in Lark Books' "500 Tables." 

Adam Welch (M.F.A. 03/A) has works featured in the new 
Lark Books publication "500 Ceramic Sculptures." 

32 I VCU Shafer Court Connections 

Katie Whelan (B.S. '06/H&S) is a volunteer for Friends 
of the Orphans. Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Region. She 
recently left for a year of service in Honduras at one of 
the charity's nine orphanages in Latin America and the 

LaTonya Whitaker (B.S 05/MC) received the Rising 
Star Award from the Virginia Chapter of the Society 
for Marketing Professional Services. The award is 
given to a marketing professional with fewer than five 
years' experience who has a demonstrated commit- 
ment to the field and industry and has shown an 
aptitude for leadership through intense involvement 
and contributions. 

Kathleen Winters (B.M. tos/A) began a master's degree 
program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 
this fall. 

Conschetta Wright (B.S.'07/N- M.P.H.'09/M) received 
a Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in an 
eight-week immersion program in Tunisia. Wright 
recently graduated with a master's degree in public 
health and plans to use the experience to help offer 
culturally competent care to patients who speak 

In memoriam 

Faculty and staff 

Sony a Clark, chair of the Department of Craft and 
Material Studies, had work included in the "Uber 
Portrait" exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum in 
Bellevue, Wash. ; the Illinois exhibit at McLean 
County Arts Center in Bloomington, 111. ; the 
Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, N.Y. , as part 
of the exhibit "Dress Codes: Clothing as Sculpture," 
curated by Barbara Bloemink; the group exhibit 
"Hair on Fire" at the Halsey Institute at the College 
of Charleston in South Carolina; and the Architecture 
and Design Museum of Los Angeles exhibit "Upcycling: 
reclaiming past lives." 

Susie Ganch, assistant professor in the Department 
of Craft and Material Studies, participated in 
"RE/ACTION(S)" at Craft Alliance, a group show 
in St. Louis, curated by Gail M. Brown. 

Bryan Hooten (MM O6/A), adjunct professor of jazz 
and music theory, recently released his CD, "Framing 
the Void," by his quartet, Ombak. which features VCU 
faculty member Brian Jones on drums, VCU alumnus 
Trey Pollard (B.M. 05/A) on guitar and former VCU 
student Cameron Ralston on bass. 

Adam Larrabee (M.M. 98/A), guitar instructor in the 
Department of Music, is featured on Eric Satie's new 
recording "House with Four Chimneys." 

Tony Martucci, professor of jazz drums in the VCU 
Department of Music, released a new CD titled 
"Long Street Charm." 

William R. Muth , Ph.D., assistant professor in the 
Department of Teaching and Learning, was granted 
a $3,000 Research Initiation Award from the VCU 
School of Education. Since receiving the award in 
2007. Muth has systematically studied a summer 
program sponsored by Hope House that works to 
strengthen relational bonds between children and 
their imprisoned fathers. 

Allan Rosenbaum (M.F.A.WA) and Lydia Thompson, 
professors in the School of the Arts, have works 
featured in the new Lark Books publication 
"500 Ceramic Sculptures." 

James Smith-Parham, voice instructor and vocal 
coach with the Department of Music, served as stage 
director for the Operafestival di Roma's production 
of "Suor Angelica" for his third season with 
the company. 

Charles West, coordinator of winds and percussion 
for the Department of Music, gave master classes at 
the National Conservatory of Peru this past summer. 

Kenneth Wood, assistant professor of voice with the 
Department of Music, sang the roles of Don Basilio 
and Don Curzio in "The Marriage of Figaro" at the 
Operafestival di Roma and served as co-director 
of the opera scenes program. 


Jeanne E. Guza (48/B), of Richmond, Va., March 24, 

2009, at age 8l. 
Maxine R. Lakin (BS.'42/E), of Sparta, Va.June 14, 

Nancy B. Leaghty (B.S.49/B), of Midlothian, Va., 

March 8. 2009. 


June F. Bass* (B.F.A. 53/A), of Richmond. Va., Feb. 17, 

2009, at age 77- 
Thomas E. Belvin (Cert °5l/A), of Williamsburg, Va., 

Jan. 7, 2009, at age 85. 
Owen L. Burks (B.S.'sa/E). of Roanoke, Va.. Feb. 29. 

2008, at age 73. 
Wamer J. Callahan Jr. (B.F.A. '5l/A; M.S. 52/A), 

of Colonial Heights. Va., March 5, 2OO9. 
Heath C. Clarke Jr. (Cert.'56/B), of Richmond, Va., 

June 3, 2009, at age 78. 
Donald G. Cronan (Cert. 51/A), of Oswego, N.Y., 

Jan. II, 2009, at age 84. 
Harper S. Darden (Cert. '5i/A : B.M. 53/A), of Glen Allen, 

Va., April 12, 2OO9, at age 82. 
William P. Dulaney(B.S.56/B), of Glen Allen, Va., 

April 21. 2009. 
Anne T. Foster (B.S. 57/H&S; M.Ed. 74/E). of Richmond, 

Va., April 4. 2OO9, at age 93. 
Louis V. Gordon Jr. (B.S. '52/B), of Powhatan. Va., 

Feb. 23. 2009, at age 82. 
James R. Grubbs Jr. (B.S.'se/H&S), of Richmond, Va., 

April 12. 2009, at age 76. 
Aubrey L. Lucas (B.S.'si/B; M.S. WB), of Colonial 

Heights, Va.,Jan. II, 2OO9, at age 82. 
Edythe D. Owen* (B.F.A. 'so/A), of Virginia Beach. Va., 

March 9, 2009, at age 80. 
Howard B. Padgett (B.S '50/B), of Rockville. Va., 

March 3, 2009, at age 83. 
Donald H. Snodgrass (BS 59/E), of Fuquay-Varina, 

N.C., Feb. 4, 2009, at age 76. 


Lawrence L. Blake (B.S 67/B), of Prince George, Va., 

March 28, 2009, at age 65. 
Dorothy B. Carneal (B.F.A. to/A), of Sandston, Va., 

May 31, 2009, at age 71- 
Lucius T. Chapin (A.S. 68/En), of Richmond, Va., 

April 14. 2009, at age 64. 
Laura E. Crabtree (A. A '66/W&S), of Sandston, Va., 

June 4, 2009, at age 65. 
Ann S. Garnett (B S. 61/H&S), of Fredericksburg, Va. , 

June 13, 2009, at age 66. 
Donald T. Harris (B.S. 62/B), of Charlotte, N.C.. 

Feb. 7, 2008. 
Barry L. Jones (BS 69/B), of Bradenton, Fla., 

March 3, 2009, at age 63. 
Elwood C Kelley (B.S. to/H&S), of Rockville, Va., 

March 8, 2009, at age 69. 
Judith H. LonglBS 66/E), of Virginia Beach, Va., 

April 20. 2009. 
Diane CD. McClaugherty* (B.F.A 6.2/A), of Great 

Falls, Va., Jan. 28. 2OO9. 
Barbara H. McDaniel* (B.S.6S/B). of Punta Gorda, 

Fla., Jan. 9, 2OO9, at age 65. 
Marian M. McDonald (B.S. 65/H&S; M.S.W .67/SW), 

of Annapolis, Md., Nov. II, 2O08, at age 81. 
Richard G. Orander (B S 68/B), of Raleigh, N.C., 

March 24, 2009, at age 74. 
Dale E. Roe (B.S 69/E), of Poquoson. Va.. Feb. 22. 

2009, at age 62- 

Alumna hits career high note 

As a teenager who loved to sing, Eva 
Dillon (B.A. '82/A) envisioned turning her 
talent into a career and in 1976 enrolled 
in Virginia Commonwealth University 
to pursue a degree in music. 

The first job she landed out of col- 
lege, however, was in advertising. She 
quickly found that the other skills she 
had learned at VCU - collaboration and 
leadership, for example — were just as 
important and applicable. 

"I believe you can learn valuable skills 
of many sorts in school and apply them 
to any variety of professions," Dillon says. 

Dillon made a name for herself in the 
publishing world, working as vice presi- 
dent and publisher of Jane magazine and 
then serving as the launch publisher of 
Cookie and positioning it as the first fam- 
ily lifestyle magazine to bridge luxury and 
mass advertising. In 2002, Advertising 
Age named Dillon a "Woman to Watch." 

In March 2007, Dillon joined Reader's 
Digest as president and group publisher. This 
year, much of her focus centered on finding 
strategies to keep the magazine fresh and 
relevant, which, she says, has been rewarding. 

All the hard work seems to be paying 
off. Reader's Digest won the National 
Magazine Award for general excellence in 
April, beating Martha Stewart Living, Real 
Simple, National Geographic and Time. 

"In the magazine world, it's like getting 
the Oscar for Best Picture," Dillon says. 

Dillon lives in New York with her hus- 
band, James, but visits Richmond and 
the VCU campus frequently. Many of her 
six siblings live in the area and four are 
VCU alumni. 

"I always reflect on how much the sur- 
roundings have changed and how much 
they've stayed the same and how the expe- 
riences I had shaped my life, which turned 
out great," she says. "Thanks, VCU!" 

Eva Dillon (second from right) chats with her team 
at Reader's Digest (from left) Melissa Morales, 
Heddy Pierson and Nick Cook. 

Alumni association 


Donna M. Dalton (M.Ed. 'oo/E), president 
Kenneth A. Thomas (B.S. '91/B), president-elect 
Mary E. Perkinson (B.RA. '91/A; B.S. '03/En), 

Thomas H. Beatty (B.A. '93/H&S), secretary 
Paul D. McWhinney (B.S. '74/SW; M.S.W. '79/SW), 

officer at large 
C. Dandridge Massey (B.S.'92/B), immediate 

past president 


Mary H. Allen (B.S. '80/E) 

Robert A. Almond (B.S. '74/E; M.S. '85/E) 

(presidential appointment) 
Peter A. Blake (B.A. '80/H&S; M.S. '88/MQ 
Elizabeth W. Bryant (B.S. '84/MC; M.S. '04/MC) 
Leah L.E. Bush, M.D. (M.S. '79/H&S; M.D. '84/M) 
Julia M. Cain (B.S. tol/En) 

(presidential appointment) 
Rejena G. Carreras (B.F.A. '70/A; M.A.E. '80/A) 
William L. Davis (B.S. '74/H&S; M.S. 79/H&S) 
David R. Dennier(B.S. '75/B) 
Gregory B. Fairchild (B.S. '88/MC) 
Aaron R. Gilchrist Jr. (B.S. '03/MC) 
Stephanie L Holt (B.S. '74/E) 
Raymond E. Honeycutt (B.S. '76/E) 

(presidential appointment) 
Christopher R. Jones (B.S. tol/En) 
Stephen H. Jones (B.S. '75/B) 
Shirley R. McDaniel (B.G.S. '99/H&S) 
Elizabeth J. Moran (M.P.A. '92/H&S) 
John S. Philips (M.S. '78/B) 
John Jay Schwartz (B.S. 69/B) 
Vickie M. Snead (B.S. 76/B) 
Jacqueline Tunstall-Bynum (B.S. '82/H&S) 
Natalee A. Wasiluk (B.F.A. '86/A) 
James E. Williams (B.S. '84/H&S; M.S. '96/H&S) 

School and affiliated group 

Franklin R. Wallace (B.F.A. '87/A; M.P.A. to8/H&S), 

African-American Alumni Council 
Eugene H. Hunt (B.S. 59/B; M.S. '61/B), 

RPI Alumni Council 
Gaurav "G" Shrestha (B.S. 03/B), Young Alumni 

Joseph E. Becht Jr. (B.S.'80/B), School 

of Business 
Christopher R. Jones (B.S. tol/En), School 

of Engineering 
Dale C. Kalkofen (M.A.E. '76/A), School 

of Education 
Elizabeth M. McAdam (B.S. '05/H&S; M.S.W. '07/SW). 

School of Social Work 

Julian H. Sinault III (B.S. '60/E), of Richmond, Va., 

April 30. 2009, at age 74. 
Alan R. Tye (B.S.'w/B), of Henrico, Va., Jan. 29, 2009, 

at age 75. 
Gerald Wilson (B.S. 69/H&S), of Newport News, Va., 

Jan. II. 2008, at age 64. 


Danny L. Athans (B.S.Vs/H&S), of Richmond, Va., Jan. 

23, 2009, at age 56. 
Raymond Elwood Beverley (B.S. '71/B), of Richmond, 

Va., March 21. 2OO9, at age 60. 
John B. Boatwright III (B.S. '7S/H&S), of Richmond, 

Va., Feb. 9. 2009, at age 56. 
Early L. Bowden Jr. (B.S. '77/B), of Manakin-Sabot, Va., 

Feb. 28, 2009, at age 63. 
Charles W. Clary (B.A.79/H&S), of Lexington, Ky., 

April 2, 2009, at age 54- 
Erman F. Clower (M. B.A. 76/B), of Sandston, Va., May 

8, 2009, at age 64. 
John H.N. Cockburn (B.S. 71/B), of Columbia. S.C., 

March 21. 2009, at age 60. 
Jean P. Copeland (M.Ed. 7o/E). of Chesterfield, Va., 

May 12, 2009, at age 72. 
Theresa W. Davis (M.S.W. 75/SW), of Portsmouth. Va., 

April I, 2009. at age 58. 
George A. Freese Jr. (B.S. 73/B), of Hopewell, Va., 

May II. 2009, at age 74. 
Carol Grim (B.F.A. 73/A), of Richmond, Va., March 29. 

2009. at age 57. 
John H. Hardage (1-1. S 72/B), of Raleigh, N.C., May 

18, 2009, at age 69. 
Mildred C. Helms (B.A. 60/E; M.Ed. 71/E), of Richmond. 

Va. , April 25, 2009, at age 77. 

Michael S. Huffman (B.F.A. '74/A), of Smithfield. Va., 

Jan. 14, 2009, at age 62. 
George J. Kadzis, D.D.S. (B.S.'74/H&S:D.DS,'78/D). 

of Tallahassee, Fla.. March 2, 2OO9. at age 56. 
Alfred J. Marcussen (72/H&S), of Richmond. Va., 

March 20, 2009, at age 85. 
Anne Pitts McCabe (M.Ed. 71/E), of Richmond. Va., 

Feb. 7. 2009. 
Amy N. McFall (B.F.A. 75/A), of Gloucester, Va., June 

8, 2009. 
Anne K. McKenney* (77/A). of Richmond, Va., March 

24. 2009, at age 83. 
Earl W. Moore (B.S. '75/B), of Richmond. Va., April 7, 

2009, at age 68. 
Patrick M. O'Hare* (B.S. '70/H&S; M.S. '78/H&S), of 

Midlothian. Va., June 5, 2OO9. at age 73. 
Edgar P. Phillips Jr. (B.S.74/MC), of Chesterfield, Va., 

May 20, 2009, at age 66. 
Edna K. Spain (B.S. 77/B), of Merrells Inlet, S.C., May 

21, 2009, at age 62. 


Richard S. Braxton (B.S. '81/B). of Richmond, Va., May 

28, 2009. at age 59. 
Kevin O. Ferguson (BS 84/E), of Chester, Va., Feb. 1. 

2OO9. at age 49. 
Roxanne Friend, Ph.D. (M.S.'89/H&S;PLD.'92/I-I&S), 

of Hope. R.I., May 22. 2OO9, at age 57. 
Richard R. Gallahan (B.S.'82/E), ofWoodbridge, 

Conn.. Jan. 30, 2009. at age 55. 
Edmund E. Hamilton (M.P.A. to/H&S), of Richmond, 

Va., Jan. 17, 2009, at age 75. 
Constance M. Hill (B.S.'82/H&S). of Lightfoot, Va., 

March 8, 2009, at age 52. 

34 ! VCU Shafer Court Connections 

Barbara M. Huxter (B.G.S. 84/H&S), of Palm Bay, Fla., 

March 3, 2009, at age 79. 
Elizabeth S. Johnson (B.A. 'si/H&S), of Richmond. Va., 

Feb. 22. 2009. at age 90. 
Rosemary H. Kelso ( M.S.W.'ro/SW), 

of Richmond, Va.. May II, 2009, at age 54. 
Kimberly A. Montgomery (B.S. '84/H&S), of Lynchburg, 

Va., Jan. 20. 2OO9. at age 47. 
Mike Schlegel ('85), a former center on VCU basketball 

teams, died at age 45. Schlegel scored 1,173 points 

during four seasons as a Rams starter, making him 

one of three I.OOO-point scorers in his class. 
Ava M. Thomas (M.P.A.'82/H&S), of Richmond, Va., 

May 8, 2009, at age 53. 
Linwood E. Wingfield Jr. (B.S. WB). of Richmond. 

Va., March 14, 2009, at age 43. 
Richard W. Wright (B.S.87/MC), of Seattle. Wash., 

Feb. 19, 2009. at age 45. 
Robert F. Zahradnick (M.S/82/H&S), of Sandston, Va.. 

April 15. 2009, at age 75. 


Anthony D. Benedict (B.F.A. 94/A). of Manassas. Va., 

Feb. 23. 2009. at age 38. 
David Blood (B.S. Va/B), of Lansdowne. Pa. .June 4, 

2009, at age 39. 
Troy E. Clark (B.S WB), of Tampa, Fla.. Jan. 17, 2009. 

at age 37. 
Hester L. Dorer, Ph.D.* (M.S. 98/H&S ; PkD. 01/H&S), 

of Richmond, Va., Feb. IO. 2009, at age 54. 
Pat Garrison Dungan* (B.F.A. v5/A), of Suffolk, Va., 

Feb. 9, 2OO9, at age 56. 
Nancy L. Farmer-Hoisington (M.S.W. WSW), 

of Alexandria, Va., March 7, 2OO9, at age 58. 
George M. Hall (B.S.'vo/B), of St. Augustine. Fla.. 

March 15, 2009, at age 52. 
Jarrel E. Hanson (B.S. '93/B), of Virginia Beach, Va., 

May 28, 2009, at age 45. 
Kristie M. Kemerer (B.S. WE), of Arnold. Md., 

May 27. 2009, at age 38. 
Charline Oliff (M.Ed. 97/E). of Palmyra, Va.. Feb. 24, 

2009, at age 58. 


Austin M. Adams (B.S. "03/H&S). of Richmond, Va., 

May 18, 2008, at age 32. 
Lynn B. Barco (B A.'oi/H&S), of Richmond, Va.. 

May 27. 2009. at age 46. 
John H. Grassmick (B.RA. 'OO/A), ofLuray, Va., 

Dec. 17, 2008, at age 34. 
Keegan Francis Merrick (B.S. os/H&S), Jan. 22, 2009, 

at age 31. He served as an animal control officer for the 

city of Richmond and, in 2006. was named Officer of 

the Year by the Virginia Animal Control Association. 

He also helped to organize and spearhead the Virginia 

Animal Fighting Task Force. 
Michael Nadeau (B.S.'OO/En), of Kalamazoo, Mich., 

March 31, 2009, at age 40. 
Andrew C.Stevens (B.A. 'oi/H&S), of Glen Allen, Va., 

Jan. 30, 2OO9, at age 31. 
Jacelle L. Winston (Cert 07/B). of Richmond, Va., 

March 23, 2009, at age 27- 

Faculty and staff 

Manley Elliot Banks II, Ph.D., associate professor of 
political science in VCU's L. Douglas Wilder School 
of Government and Public Affairs, died Aug. 21. 2009, 
at age 56. Banks joined VCU Jan. I, 1987, and taught 
courses in city politics, U.S. government, voting rights 
issues and urban economic development policies and 
also served as an honor code coordinator for the 
College of Humanities and Sciences. He was a member 
of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists 

and Minority Scholars Concerned About Voting Rights 
Issues. Banks received his undergraduate degree from 
Morehouse College in Atlanta and his master's and 
doctoral degrees from the University of Texas. 

Martha D. Berliner, Ph.D., of Virginia Beach. Va., died 
March 4, 2009, at age 80. She served as chair and professor 
in the Department of Biology and as professor of micro- 
biology and immunology from 1982 until 1987. While at 
VCU. she co-founded a plant biotechnology laboratory. 

Thomas C. Campbell Jr., Ph.D., retired business 
professor, diedjuly 8, 2009, at age 89. He taught 
economics at West Virginia University and served as 
dean of the Business and Economics School from 
1961-1968 when The Ford Foundation asked him to 
go to Kenya to help the government write its first five- 
year economic plan. In 1980 he moved to Richmond 
and taught part time at VCU. Upon retiring, he did 
volunteer work at the Virginia Historical Society. 

Robert Dilworth, Ed.D., of Richmond. Va., diedjune 
6, 2009. at age 72. Following a 31-year career in the 
U.S. Army, he joined the VCU School of Education, 
where he taught adult education and human resource 
development. He retired as associate professor emeri- 
tus in 2005. Over the years, he earned three master's 
degrees and a doctorate and became known interna- 
tionally for his work with action learning. 

Clarence L. Dunn, Ph.D.. of Richmond, Va., died Feb. 
3. 2009. at age 86. He received three degrees from 
the University of Illinois in Urbana. He taught briefly 
at his alma mater, followed by 26 years as a professor 
at Louisiana State University, where he served as head 
of the accounting department, as associate dean of the 
College of Business Administration and as assistant 
vice chancellor of academic affairs. He retired from 
LSU in May 1978 and then taught at VCU for IO years 
ounting before retiring in May 1987. 


sor 01 acco 

Thomas O. Hall Jr., Th.D., VCU professor emeritus, 
diedjuly 20, 2009, at age 85. He joined Richmond 
Professional Institute, the precursor to VCU, as an 
adjunct professor and developed a department of 
philosophy and religious studies, which he chaired 
for 17 years. Hall left the department to develop the 
university's honors program. He earned his Bachelor 
of Divinity, Master of Theology and Doctor of Theol- 
ogy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological 
Seminary. During his career, Hall received the 
Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council 
of Higher Education in Virginia and the Distinguished 
Service Award from VCU. The College of Humanities 
and Sciences established the Thomas O. Halljr. 
Honors Scholarship Fund in his name. 

James T. Moore, Ph.D., emeritus professor of history, 
died April I. 2009, at age 63. He joined the VCU 
Department of History as an instructor in 1970 and 
became its chair in 1981. He received his undergradu- 
ate degree from the University of South Carolina and 
his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. While at 
VCU, he taught courses in U.S. history and received 
the College of Humanities and Sciences' Lecturer's 
Award and the college's Distinguished Teaching Award. 
He also wrote "Two Paths to the New South: The 
Virginia Debt Controversy, 1870-1883" and co-edited 
another book, "The Governors of Virginia. 1860- 
1978." The James Tice Moore Scholarship in History 
for Teachers was established in his honor in 2008. 

James A. Wood, Ph.D., of Richmond, Va., died March 
14, 2OO9, at age 69. He was a graduate of Georgetown 
University and the University of Virginia, where he 
received a Ph.D. in mathematics. His 45-plus-year 
career included nearly 40 at VCU as professor of 
mathematics and director of graduate studies. 

Friends of VCU 

J.B. Bourne Jr., of Sandston. Va., April 30, 2009. 
Stuart G. Christian Jr., of Richmond, Va., Feb. 8, 

Leslie Grandis. of Richmond, Va., March 30, 2009. 
Nancy C. Lesac, of Richmond, Va., Jan. 19, 2009. 
Ernest E. Rosenthal, of Richmond, Va., May 31, 2009. 

Shafer Court sparks reunion 

Instant chemistry sparked between 
Keith Jenkins (B.S. '80/B) and Mabel 
Washington (B.S. '81/B) when they met at 
Virginia Commonwealth University in 1978. 

"I liked Keith from the moment I laid 
eyes on him," Washington says. "We 
never dated, but I always talked about 
this cute guy I had a 'crush' on." 

At the time, Jenkins says, he thought 
of Washington as "just a freshman." The 
sophomore business major never really 
thought anything serious would develop 
with the young girl he regularly saw at the 
dining hall. 

Jenkins remembers Valentine's Day 
1978 fondly. Washington walked up to him 
and said, "It's Valentine's Day. Where is 
my chocolate?" 

"I can't remember what I said to her, but 
I finally gave her chocolate, in February 
2007," Jenkins says. 

When he graduated, the two went 
their separate ways. Jenkins pursued 
a career in sales, while Washington took 
a different path, in local government. The 
two thought they'd never see each other 
again, but neither forgot the other. 

In 2004, Sh r 
Court Connect 
noted Washington's 
promotion to cit 
council clerk 
Newport News 


living in Virginia 
Beach, Va., at the 
time, saw her name 
and remembered 
the cute, dimple- 
cheeked girl from 
his college years. 
He decided to con- 
tact Washington, 
in hopes of recon- 

Pe ?, t !? g ' , Keith Jenkins and Mai 

We ta ked and ... , . , , . 

Washington celebrate 

communicated via their first anniversary 
e-mail on a daily this month. 
basis. Our conver- 
sations confirmed that he was the guy 
for me," Washington says. 

And 30 years after their first chance 
meeting on campus, the couple tied the 
knot Oct. 18, 2008. 

Fall 2009 1 

[class notes] 

New lifetime members 

William B. Adams, M.D. 

Lara G. Addison 

Ajay Adhikari, Ph.D. 

John R. Alexander Jr. 

Damon Allen 

Linda D. Brown-Burton 

James O. Burgess 

Mason L. Burnette 

Chris S. Canavos 

Colleen W. Carney 

Julie J. Carwile 

Ryan M. Castillo 

James P. Charnley 

Peter Clancy 

Keefe R. Coble 

Donna E. Coghill 

Felecia I Coleman 

Charles Conyers 

Joice E. Conyers 

W. Gray Corbett Jr. 

Catherine C Cottrell 

Trina B. Davis 

Patricia D. Dickinson 

Stephen Y. Dickinson 

Sharon Ann Dodson-Longest 

Tanisha S. Dorsey 

Barbara S. Eadeh 

James C. Edwards 

Susan A. Edwards 

Bonnie S. Eisenman 

Donna D. Elder 

Larry G. Elder, J.D. 

John C. Emory Jr. 

Lea W. Emory 

Charles E. Faison Jr. 

Stanley J. Feuer 

Judy M.K. Fitch 

Juliana R. Franklin 

Leah A. Fremouw 

Lynn L. Garmew 

Richard H. Gibbs 

Kenneth C. Giles 

Betty Ann Lee Gillelan 

Marion Gittings 

Beverly P. Glover 

Bobby A. Gordon 

Janet L. Haase 

Randall Haase 

Allison Aheart Haymore 

John H. Haynes 

Mary M. Hoffman 

Raymond E. Honeycutt 

Anita L. Iyer 

Gloria J. Jackson 

Kathryn Briscoe Kelley 

Brenda L. Kirk 

Min J. Lee 

Larry L. Longest 

Robert P. Malyska 

Percy M. Mansfield III 

Sarah Kelly Mansfield 

James A. McDonough Jr. 

Morgan Elizabeth McDowell 

Cynthia H. McMullen 

Laura Michaels 

Stephen W. Michaels 

Catherine L. Moore 

Colleen A. Moore 

Louis W. Moore 

William Brent Moore 

Ralph D. Neal, Ph.D. 

Denise M. Ortiz 

Josephine B. Owusu-Sakyi 

R.A. Pace Jr. 

Joan M. Pellegrini, Ph.D. 

MaryAnne Pennington 

Vicki Phillos 

Justin L. Poklis 

Pamela H. Poole 

Kamesha L. Price 

Mark A. Robbins 

Morris Roberson 

Edwin S. Robertson 

Cynthia M. Rudell 

John A. Sankey III 

Patricia G. Sankey 

James E. Schepmoes 

Thomas W. Schleicher 

Corinne Renee Shelton-Adams 

Kristen L. Sheriff, DPI. 

Tara E. Silver-Malyska 

Robert A. Simms 

Cynthia A. Simpson 

Curtis A. Sisson 

Elizabeth V. Sisson 

Lesley A. Smith 

Nathan A. Smith 

Robin N. Snaden 

Lawrence J. Spencer, Ph.D. 

William D.Spillerll 

Arnette A. Steele 

Laura E. Stevenson 

Patrick Swope 

Sarah Werner Swope 

Jessica B. Troutman 

Alison Ullman 

Franklin R. Wallace Jr. 

Natalee Wasiluk 

Geraldine B. Watkinson 

Ralph E. Watkinson 

Robert S. Welch 

Kenneth W. Wester 

William B. Willaford IV 

Shirley B. Williams 

Aaron L. Winer 

Marian F. Winer 

Abbreviation key 

Alumni are identified by degree, year and 
college or school. An asterisk (*) identifies 
members of the VCU Alumni Association. 

College and schools 


College of Humanities and Sciences 


School of the Arts 


School of Allied Health Professions 


School of Business 


School of Dentistry 


School of Education 


School of Engineering 


L Douglas Wilder School 
of Government and Public Affairs 


Graduate School 


VCU Life Sciences 


School of Medicine 


School of Mass Communications 


School of Nursing 


School of Pharmacy 


School of Social Work 


School of World Studies 



List includes individuals who joined the VCU Alumni Association as lifetime members 
between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2009. 

A.A., A.S. 

Associate Degree 




Bachelor of Fine Arts 


Bachelor of General Studies 


Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies 


Bachelor of Music 


Bachelor of Music Education 


Bachelor of Science 


Bachelor of Social Work 


Doctor of Dental Surgery 


Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice 


Doctor of Public Administration 


Doctor of Physical Therapy 


Master of Arts 


Master of Accountancy 


Master of Art Education 


Master of Business Administration 


Master of Bioinformatics 


Doctor of Medicine 


Master of Education 


Master of Environmental Studies 


Master of Fine Arts 


Master of Health Administration 


Master of Interdisciplinary Studies 


Master of Music 


Master of Music Education 


Master of Public Administration 


Master of Public Health 


Master of Pharmaceutical Sciences 


Master of Science 


Master of Science in Athletic Training 


Master of Science in Dentistry 


Master of Science in Health 



Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia 


Master of Science in Occupational Therapy 


Master of Social Work 


Master of Teaching 


Master of Taxation 


Master of Urban and Regional Planning 


Post-professional Occupational 

Therapy Doctorate 


Doctor of Pharmacy 


Doctor of Philosophy 

36 I VCU Shafer Court Connections 

[THEN and NOW] 


' evolves along with university 

By Kelli Ander 

Students looking to find their niche on campus have 33 fraternities and sororities providing 
leadership, community service and academic experiences to enhance their college career 
at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Greek life continues to grow alongside university enrollment as more and more students join 
the close-knit groups to find that home away from home, says Carajenkins, VCU fraternity and 
sorority life coordinator. Since 2005, IO fraternities and sororities have joined the Greek life 
fold at VCU. 

"In only three years, we've almost doubled the community," she says. 

That's a far different student-life picture from when Ron Gentry (B.S. '70/MC) attended 
Richmond Professional Institute, now VCU. 

"At that time the school didn't have a lot of organizations or functions that brought people 
together and this was away to do that," says Gentry, who joined RPI's first unofficial fraternity, Phi 
Delta Omega, in 1966. Five years later, VCU recognized the local chapter when it affiliated with 
the international fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. 

The first chartered Greek-letter organization, however, came to campus a year earlier, in 197°- 
with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Each chapter established in the nearly 40 years since has kept pace 
with VCU's student population, offering men and women of different cultural backgrounds, philan- 
thropic interests and strong academic goals the chance to come together in brother- and sisterhood. 

"Our chapters reflect the diversity of VCU's student population," Jenkins says. 

Today, the reasons students Go Greek" remain very similar to 19 years ago, 
says Lynne Chambers, the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority adviser since 1990. 

"Back then, women were looking for a small group to connect with and 
opportunities for leadership development,"' Chambers says. "Today, 
VCU is a big university with a lot more opportunities for clubs and 
groups. But women are still looking for a small, cohesive group 
as a support system." 

Erin Halye, who is completing the graduate year of the five 
year extended teacher preparation program, joined a sorority as 
a sophomore because she wanted to get involved. Halye — who 
commutes from Midlothian, Va. — found Phi Sigma Sigma 
offered her opportunities and a family environment at VCU. 

"They showed me that being a sorority woman was a whole lot 
more and a whole lot better than I thought it would be," Halye says. 
"They do so much around campus and in the community." 

Those events include an annual Rock-A-Thon to raise money for 
the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation, which supports the National Kidney 
Foundation's U.S. Transplant Games and provides grants and scholarships 
for sisters as well as other philanthropic endeavors. 

Halye jumped right into leadership roles by serving as her sorority' 
president, director of operations for the Panhellenic Council and now 
as president of the Greek honor organization, Order of Omega. 

"I feel like I've gotten so much more out of my college experience with 
this," Halye says. "It's really helped me evolve as a leader and as a person." 

The fraternity and sorority community not only positively impacts 
campus culture and student life but also has lasting effects on membe 
development after graduation. 

"It's not just something you do for four years," Jenkins says. "It's the idea 
of lifetime membership and friendship. The fundamental purpose of frater- 
nities and sororities is to help make men and women better citizens." 

Gentry agrees: "My brothers were my closest friends at school and still are today." 

Kelli Anderson is a contributing writer for Shafer Court Connections. 

VCU Greek life turns 40 

Celebrate 40 years of VCU's fra- 
ternity and sorority community 
throughout 2010. Greek alumni 
are invited to participate in the 
on-campus celebrations. 

For more information, call (804) 828-4685 
or visit 


Mark your calendars for these Virginia Commonwealth University 
and VCU Alumni Association events. For more alumni activities, 
go to, or visit for campus happenings. 


Nov. 4 

Book signing with Judith Fox, author 

of "I STILL Do: Loving and Living 

with Alzheimer's" 

Barnes & Noble @ VCU on the Monroe 

Park Campus 
(804) 828-1678 

Nov. 5-22 

Theatre VCU — "Ain't Misbehavin"' 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 
(804) 828-6026 

Nov. 17-20 

VCU Libraries: Centennial anniversary 
of the founding of the Equal Suffrage 
League of Virginia 

Various events/locations 
(804) 828-IIO5 

The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia 


Dec. 12 

Winter Commencement 

Stuart C. Siegel Center 


Jan. 30 

Capucon-Angelich Trio 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 
(804.) 828-6776 



Black History Month at VCU 

Various events/locations 
(804.) 828-6672 

Feb. 6 

Homecoming Weekend 

Various events/locations 
(804) 828-1981 

RA Reunion* 
Location/date TBD 

Chill and Grill* 
Location/date TBD 

VCU Hoops* 
Location/date TBD 

VCUAA Board of Directors Meeting* 
Location TBD 
(804) 828-2586 

Feb. 20 

Arnaldo Cohen, piano 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 
(804) 828-6776 

Feb. 21-March 21 

Theatre VCU — "The Grapes of Wrath" 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 
(804) 828-6026 


March 10 

The Richmond Piano Trio 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 

March 25 

Browns-Lyons Lecture with Jack D. Spiro, Ph.D. 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 
(804) 828-IIO5 

March 27 
Jupiter String Quartet 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 
(804) 828-6776 

"' VU ^^1 

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Jupiter String Quartet 


Alumni Month 
Details to follow in the spring magazine 
and at 

April 8-25 

Theatre VCU — "The Who's Tommy" 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 
(804) 828-6026 

April 10 

VCUAA Board of Directors Meeting* 

Location TBD 
(804) 828-2586 

April 17 

Pieter Wispelwey, cello 

W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts 
(804) 828-6776 

April 23-25 
Reunion Weekend* 

Various events/locations 
(804) 828-2586 

* VCUAA event 

38 I VCU Shafer Court Connections 



Campus concerts: 1989 

Alternative funk-rock band the Red Hot Chili 
Peppers perform in the courtyard of Shafer Court 
on the Virginia Commonwealth University Monroe Park Campus. A focal 
point of Shafer Court, the brick stage that stood there from i960 to 2002 
served as a venue for art shows, lectures, protests, community gatherings 
and free weekly rock concerts featuring local and national performers. 


2009 1 39 


Virginia Commonwealth University 

Office of Alumni Relations 

924 West Franklin Street 

RO. Box 843044 

Richmond, Virginia 23284-3044 

Non-profit Organization 

U.S. Postage Paid 

Permit No. 869 


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