Make it real
At Virginia Commonwealth University, we talk a lot about “making it real.” This is not just a tagline for a billboard. It is a declaration that education is an active experience and that knowledge is to be discovered, not recited. It is an emphatic belief that our obligation is not simply to grant degrees but to change lives — and, in doing so, to challenge the norm.
As we envision what VCU can become in the decades ahead, we need you to engage with us now.
Make it ambitious
The largest fundraising campaign in VCU’s history, The Make It Real Campaign for VCU funds the critical initiatives that will become points of distinction for VCU long into the future, touching every aspect of VCU: students, alumni, faculty and staff, patients, caregivers, researchers, schools, libraries, centers and institutes, athletics and the community here in Richmond and far beyond.
Make it matter
Your participation helps fuel growth in three major areas
Attract, support and retain the finest students and faculty through scholarships, professorships and endowed chairs. Provide students with purposeful, hands-on learning and living experiences and faculty with support for start-up research ideas.
Create new interdisciplinary partnerships and centers of excellence to offer students and faculty the right environments for meaningful research and learning experiences that will expand the university’s ability to solve complex local and global challenges through inquiry and discovery.
Provide world-class facilities, equipment and materials to expand the university’s research capacity. Increase the impact and sustainability of VCU’s community partnerships and its resources in education, health and workforce development.
Make it transformative
People. Innovations. Environments.
Your gift supports our students and the alumni they will become. Your gift funds breakthroughs and discoveries that result from our research. And your gift enriches lives and drives economic development within our community.
Stephanie Warshawsky (B.S.’18/H&S)
“If it's been a long day, if it's been raining, if you've been banding for six hours and your fingers hurt and you're tired, you can come back to the lodge and start a fire and just relax. It’s like home; it's a beautiful place.”
VCU’s Panama avian mangrove ecology class took Stephanie Warshawsky from avid birdwatcher to avian ecologist and ignited her passion for studying birds, which she hopes she will take into a career as a researcher or teacher. A biology major in her senior year, she is part of the Prothonotary Warbler Monitoring Project team, collecting information to add to a 30- database to if climate change is altering the birds’ behavior.
“We gather data on when eggs are hatched, arrival date, whether birds are returning from previous years,” she says. “We band them and take blood samples as well as a variety of other body measurements. The more data we have, the more we can predict future climate-change-related .”
With the Inger Rice Lodge at the VCU Rice Rivers Center, which opened in 2017, Warshawsky, who lives an hour away in Hanover County, Virginia, no longer has to wake up quite as early to catch the birds at sunrise – something she does three or four times a week during breeding season. The $2.3 million facility was made possible in part with a $1.8 million donation from Inger Rice and provides temporary accommodations for Warshawsky and up to 21 more researchers, students and other collaborators from VCU and further afield.
“It’s nice to have a space where we can stay that’s so , especially if we need to gather data for days in a row,” Warshawsky says. “And it’s neat because you get to interact with other researchers and see how their work could contribute to your study or just the overall big picture.”
Tatenda Ndambakuwa (B.S.’18/H&S)
“There are technology and systems in place that can bring efficiency to food production. There’s no excuse why anyone should be going to bed hungry. We are trying to bring that technology to the ground and help make food production more efficient.”
Growing up in Zimbabwe, Tatenda Ndambakuwa vividly remembers the food crisis in 2008 that left her and millions of others facing starvation. So when she came to VCU, the senior math major drew on classes, professor support and other resources to co-found a startup and create an app, Shiri, that would help prevent that from happening again.
Shiri enables African farmers to use their phones to upload data about their farm’s livestock and crop management, seed and feed access, milk production, cattle pricing and other things. With widespread adoption, the app would allow for real-time analyses of Africa’s food-production system.
“We will be able to reach people – even in remote areas – from their phones,” Ndambakuwa says. “And we can tell things like how much farmers are producing, and is it efficient? With that data, you could tell we’re approaching a crisis.”
As an international student whose family could not afford to send her to college, Ndambakuwa benefits immeasurably from scholarships that, she says, “give me the peace of mind to focus my energy on studying, participating in school activities and being the best well-rounded student I can be.” Her app, in turn, could impact the efficiency and success of food production across a whole continent.
Brent Monseur (M.D.’16/M)
“VCU was a great place I could combine my childhood loves of space and medicine. A clerkship at NASA helped me find a way to fuse the two. ”
With a deep commitment to giving patients more control over their reproductive choices, Brent Monseur came to VCU to become an OB-GYN.
But it wasn’t until his fourth year of study, when he participated in NASA’s Aerospace Medicine Clerkship, that he realized he could combine his career path with another childhood passion: space.
As Monseur interacted with his patients on the wards, he witnessed the effects family planning of increasing numbers of women putting off motherhood for their careers, he explains. Working with the physicians who look after those we send into space, he discovered that astronauts face similar obstacles with contraception and fertility preservation.
Now an OB-GYN resident physician and reproductive biologist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, he hopes to specialize in fertility medicine as it relates to astronauts. “I envision investigating issues of spaceflight contraception and delayed childbearing due to career goals and cosmic radiation,” he says.
A first-generation college student whose family did not have sufficient financial means to pay for his education, Monseur says the scholarships he received at VCU helped by lessening the number of loans he needed to take out.
“Scholarships made my dreams less daunting,” he says, adding that even post-graduation they are helping him reach his goals. “I have a lower monthly payment, allowing me to set aside money to attend and present research at national conferences across the country.”
About this campaign
The Make It Real Campaign for VCU was publicly launched Sept. 22, 2016. It counts donations as far back as July 1, 2012, and runs until June 30, 2020. It is the largest universitywide campaign in VCU’s history.
Frequently asked Questions
Why is VCU conducting a comprehensive capital campaign?
Private philanthropy is critical to the university's mission and vision. Gifts from alumni and friends enable VCU's students, faculty, caregivers and researchers to achieve their goals and impact society. To that end, a comprehensive campaign is a strategic initiative designed to strengthen the university by engaging all areas of campus and by reaching out to our alumni and friends to make a real difference to the future of VCU.
What is the campaign goal?
The ultimate goal of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU is to change lives … of our students, our patients, our community and the world. VCU will measure the success of this campaign not only by the amount raised but also by the number of alumni and other community members engaged, the number of scholarships and faculty funds created and much more. The largest fundraising campaign in VCU’s history, the Make It Real Campaign for VCU funds the critical initiatives that will become points of distinction for VCU long into the future. The campaign touches every aspect of VCU: students, alumni, faculty and staff, patients, caregivers, researchers, schools, libraries, centers and institutes, athletics and the community.
Our $750 million goal is as ambitious as our vision for the future.
Can I designate my gift to a specific school or program?
Yes, the Make It Real Campaign for VCU supports all areas of the university. The comprehensive nature of the campaign means that you can make a gift to the area of your choice — Athletics, Massey Cancer Center, your school or college or a scholarship fund, for example — and your gift counts toward the campaign’s goal.
How does the capital campaign support faculty?
Faculty support is critical to the long-term vision for VCU. We have dedicated researchers, scholars and caregivers. All three pillars of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU — People, Innovations and Environments — are designed to support faculty through endowed positions, research support and world-class facilities.
How does the campaign support students?
The Make It Real Campaign for VCU is all about students. The most obvious support for students is through scholarships. Other funds raised during the campaign help our students challenge the norm by providing them access to the best faculty available; research opportunities; state-of-the-art facilities; collaborative, innovative hands-on experiences; and the freedom to explore their passions.
Why should I support VCU?
Making a philanthropic gift is a very personal decision, one that comes after careful thought and consideration. Perhaps you are a proud VCU graduate or an individual who has experienced outstanding care through VCU Health or you are simply passionate about art or music or basketball. Perhaps you want to alleviate a student's struggle of juggling classes and work by providing scholarship assistance. At VCU, our goal is to help our alumni and friends find their passion and help them achieve that vision through giving. Whatever your reason, be assured that every gift, no matter the amount, has the potential to change lives.
Does each school or unit at VCU have a campaign goal?
Yes. Because the Make It Real Campaign for VCU is a comprehensive fundraising initiative, every school and unit has established a goal.
How long will the campaign last?
The Make It Real Campaign for VCU officially started July 1, 2012, and ends June 30, 2020.
- Lisa (M.D.’01/M) and Zach Ellis
- Darlene and George (B.S.’78/B) Emerson
- Marsha and Bill (B.S.’69/B; M.S.’74/B) Ginther
- Terrell (B.F.A.’87/A) and Elliott Harrigan
- Kathleen and John Luke
- Kathie and Steve Markel
- Nancy (B.S.’80/P) and Ron (B.S.’80/P) McFarlane
- Elaine and Baxter (D.D.S.’70/D) Perkinson
- Vickie (B.S.’76/B) and Tom (B.S.’76/B; H.L.D.’12) Snead
- Jackie Stone and B.K. Fulton
- Kathy and Rick Wagoner
- Fredrika Jacobs
- Natalie Newfield
- Mark Newfield (B.S.’87/B)
- Jerry Kluft (D.D.S.’73/D)
- Brian White
- Mary Doswell
- Trevor Cox
- Bill Mattox (B.A.’80/H&S)
- Sherry Peterson (M.S.W.’73/SW)
- Stephanie Holt (B.S.’74/E)
- Pam Faggert (M.B.A.’86/B)
- Mike Gracik
- Gail Johnson (B.S.’67/N; M.S.’76/N)
- Ron Davis (B.S.’73/P)
- Katharine Webb (M.S.W.’73/SW)
- Dale Kalkofen (M.A.E.’76/E)
- Tracy Kemp Stallings (B.S.’85/N; M.H.A.’95/AHP)
- Wilsie Bishop (B.S.’70/N; M.S.’78/N)
Senior Advisory Council
- Margaret and Al Broaddus
- Lou Harris
- Kay Coles James and Charles James
- Fran and Jim McGlothlin
- Ramona and Jim Neifeld (M.D.’72/M)
- Susan and Randy Reynolds
- Inger Rice
- Dawn and Stuart Siegel
- Carolyn and John Snow
- Lois and Eugene P. Trani (H.L.D.’09)
- Bobbie and Jim Ukrop
- L. Douglas Wilder (H.L.D.’93)
- C. Kenneth Wright (H.L.D.’11)
By the numbers
The Make It Real Campaign for VCU is already more than halfway toward its goal of $750 million. Here's a snapshot of what we have achieved together since its quiet launch July 1, 2012.
|Unit||Total goal||Total dollars raised||% of total goal raised|
|College of Engineering||$35,000,000||$67,478,353||192.8%|
|College of Health Professions||10,000,000||$12,446,129||124.5%|
|Humanities and Sciences||$15,300,000||$14,544,799||95.1%|
|Massey Cancer Center||$120,000,000||$103,436,944||86.2%|
|VCU Health System||$150,000,000||$35,690,303||23.8%|
*Numbers as of March 14, 2019.