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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, *
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.
Product group from well-managed
forests, controlled sources and
recycled wood or fiber
www.fsc.org Cert no. BV-COC-069111
© 1 996 Forest Stewardship Council
Fall 2009 • Volume I|>, Number I
Assistant Vice President,
University Alumni Relations
Gordon A. McDougall
VCU Alumni Association
Diane Stout-Brown (B.S.W. '80/SW)
Kristen Caldwell (B.S. '94/MO
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; firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters to the editor should be sent to Shafer
Court Connections. Virginia Commonwealth
University, 827 W. Franklin St., P.O. Box
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Contributions of articles, photos and
artwork are welcome, however, Shafer Court
Connections accepts no responsibility for
© 2009. Virginia Commonwealth University.
An equal opportunity, affirmative action university. 090505-OO
VCU Shafer Court Connections
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
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
such as water-efficient fix-
tures and environmentally
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
President Michael Rao,
Ph.D., greets students at
Cary and Belvidere
Residential College during
Aug. 15 move-in day.
"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
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
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,"
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
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."
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
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
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
By Erin Egan
men a voice
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,"
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,"
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 www.vcu-mcvalumni.org.
Fa!! 2009 i C
[face to face]
VCU ALUMNA BRINGS COMMUNITY
O fCG ! TOGETHER TO FEED THOSE IN NEED
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
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,"
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
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
.sportsbackers.org) or the Richmond
Road Runners Club (www.rrrc.org) for
more information. For details about
getting involved through the VCU Alumni
Association, visit www.vcu-mcvalumni.org.
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
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,"
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,"
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
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
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
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 www.growbydegrees.org.
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
.jumpbecause.com 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
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
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
"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
24 i VCU Shafer Court Connections
The World .
^brought tq you by
VCU Alumni Association
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
Aug. 18-Sept. 2
Aug. 25-Sept. 3
Aug. 29-Sept. 22
Paris and London (via Eurostar train)
Scandinavian and Russian Splendors Cruise
Grand Journey Around the World
Ancient Greece and Turkey Island Life Cruise
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. firstname.lastname@example.org.
and sewine machines
Alumni return for Reunion Weekend
il r :«
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
Seven new alumni
join the VCUAA
(top, from left)
Mary H. Allen,
Robert A. Almond,
Elizabeth W. Bryant,
(bottom, from left)
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."
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 www.vcu-mcvalumni.org and look for the
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.
Make a dent. VCU
THANK A TEACHER
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 •www.vcu-mcvalumni.org • (804)828-2586
My VCU degrees
allow me to
make a dent
in the world of
crime solving by
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
as a professor,
I believe I made
a difference by
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
their families by
using the skills I
honed at VCU is
how I've made
a dent. Being an
of the alumni association also
provides opportunities to help
others by making personal and
- Gaurav "G" Shrestha, CFP (B.S. '03/B),
Virginia Asset Management,
VCUAA lifetime member since 2006
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 toVCU-ALUM@vcu.edu.
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
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.
• > < .'•"■'»
Update your record and share the news
Save time! Visit the VCUAA Web site to update your contact, employment and personal information.
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Mail your update to: Office of Alumni Relations, Virginia Commonwealth University,
924 W. Franklin St., P.O. Box 843044, Richmond, VA 23284-3044; or fax (804) 828-8197;
or e-mail email@example.com; or visit www.vcu-mcvalumni.org.
Get access to additional alumni-
only features by registering
online. It's fast. It's easy. It's free.
Visit www.vcu-mcvalumni.org and
click on "Register." Once your
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Plus, we'll keep you informed via
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Send information about your professional and personal
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to Shafer Court Connections, Virginia Commonwealth University,
924 W. Franklin St., P.O. Box 843044, Richmond, VA 23284-3044.
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
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.
Recently published alumni and faculty members
I SHALL BE
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
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 Forbes.com 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
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
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
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
Kathleen Winters (B.M. tos/A) began a master's degree
program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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
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
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
"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.
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
Mary H. Allen (B.S. '80/E)
Robert A. Almond (B.S. '74/E; M.S. '85/E)
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)
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)
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
Christopher R. Jones (B.S. tol/En), School
Dale C. Kalkofen (M.A.E. '76/A), School
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
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 (B.S.so/B: 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
Jenkins remembers Valentine's Day
1978 fondly. Washington walked up to him
and said, "It's Valentine's Day. Where is
"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
promotion to cit
living in Virginia
Beach, Va., at the
time, saw her name
the cute, dimple-
cheeked girl from
his college years.
He decided to con-
in hopes of recon-
Pe ?, t !? g ' , Keith Jenkins and Mai
We ta ked and ... , . , , .
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
New lifetime members
William B. Adams, M.D.
Lara G. Addison
Ajay Adhikari, Ph.D.
John R. Alexander Jr.
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
Keefe R. Coble
Donna E. Coghill
Felecia I Coleman
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
Beverly P. Glover
Bobby A. Gordon
Janet L. 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
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.
Justin L. Poklis
Pamela H. Poole
Kamesha L. Price
Mark A. Robbins
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.
Arnette A. Steele
Laura E. Stevenson
Sarah Werner Swope
Jessica B. Troutman
Franklin R. Wallace Jr.
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
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
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.
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
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
For more information, call (804) 828-4685
or visit www.usca.vcu.edu/greektife.
Mark your calendars for these Virginia Commonwealth University
and VCU Alumni Association events. For more alumni activities,
go to www.vcu-mcvalumni.org, www.vcu-aaac.org or visit
http://events.vcu.edu for campus happenings.
Book signing with Judith Fox, author
of "I STILL Do: Loving and Living
Barnes & Noble @ VCU on the Monroe
Theatre VCU — "Ain't Misbehavin"'
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
VCU Libraries: Centennial anniversary
of the founding of the Equal Suffrage
League of Virginia
The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia
Stuart C. Siegel Center
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
Black History Month at VCU
Chill and Grill*
VCUAA Board of Directors Meeting*
Arnaldo Cohen, piano
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
Feb. 21-March 21
Theatre VCU — "The Grapes of Wrath"
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
The Richmond Piano Trio
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
Browns-Lyons Lecture with Jack D. Spiro, Ph.D.
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
Jupiter String Quartet
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
"' VU ^^1
i N v
Jupiter String Quartet
Details to follow in the spring magazine
and at www.vcu-mcvaluiuni.org.
Theatre VCU — "The Who's Tommy"
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
VCUAA Board of Directors Meeting*
Pieter Wispelwey, cello
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
* 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
U.S. Postage Paid
Permit No. 869
Looking for a new job? Thinking about a career transition?
The VCU Alumni Association has teamed up with CareerBeam to offer
professional career counseling services to our alumni.
With CareerBeam, you can:
• Access research on millions of companies and industries. Search-
able databases offer valuable information such as sales figures, key
contacts, trends and competitors for 18 million companies and 22
million contacts in hundreds of industries around the world.
• Evaluate your skills and career interests. CareerBeam's unique
career assessment tools factor in your values, talents and personality
to help you develop — and achieve — professional goals.
• Create professional resumes and cover letters. Whether you're
writing a first-time resume or updating a previous one, use
CareerBeam to develop effective tools for your job search.
Start your complimentary CareerBeam
account today at www.vcu-mcvalumni.org.
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