Opportunity VCU Campaign Launched
VCU and MCV Alumni Associations to help raise $50 million for scholarships
Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009
The Virginia Commonwealth University Alumni Association and the MCV Alumni Association of VCU today announce Opportunity VCU, a campaign to raise $50 million for student scholarships and fellowships across all academic units.
The alumni associations will spearhead this effort in partnership with the university to raise money for undergraduate and graduate scholarships and graduate-student fellowships.
The alumni associations say the scholarships are needed more than ever as the cost of higher education continues to rise and the amount of support VCU receives from the state continues to decline. Association officials note that this year VCU will receive $25.4 million less state support than it did in fiscal year 2000, despite enrolling nearly 9,000 more students.
All forms of financial aid for VCU students exceed $270 million. About 70 percent of VCU’s entering full-time freshmen apply for need-based financial aid. Only 11 percent, or 187, of those students with financial need will have that need fully met. On average, VCU undergraduates receive $10,685 in financial aid. Additionally, 70 percent work full or part time.
“The Opportunity VCU campaign strives to build scholarship funding so students will not be forced to decide if they can afford their education,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “The university calls on alumni and friends, many of whom struggled financially when they were students and therefore understand the needs of today’s students, to help VCU continue to reward deserving students with this much-needed scholarship and fellowship support.
“Offering more merit-based scholarships also will help VCU to continue to attract the most motivated students to our campus as a first-choice university,” Rao said. “I am grateful to our alumni associations for taking on this challenge.”
All the university’s schools will participate in Opportunity VCU in addition to their ongoing annual and capital fund-raising priorities. Gifts can be designated for a specific school or department; to the Opportunity VCU fund, a university-wide scholarship fund; or to the alumni associations’ scholarship funds.
The leaders of the alumni associations welcome the challenge and recognize its importance.
“Our two alumni associations saw the need to increase privately funded student financial support so we can reach our alma mater's goals of raising our academic profile, providing essential support for our deserving students, while adding value for all alumni degrees,” said VCU Alumni Association President Donna Dalton (M.Ed.’00). “We believe the time is now for the associations’ current and former leadership to seize this opportunity. Although we are humbled by the challenge, we are confident of success. We look forward to inviting all alumni to join us in supporting the students of today and tomorrow.”
“With the unemployment rate continuing to creep up and more and more families facing difficult economic decisions, the Opportunity VCU campaign comes at the right time,” said MCV Alumni Association President Dr. James Revere (D.D.S.’65). “As alumni, we remember the lean times during our college years. Some of us were fortunate to receive scholarship or fellowship support to make pursuing our degree a little easier. Either way, as alumni, we now have the responsibility and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the next generation of VCU students.”
Rao has set alumni engagement as a top priority and is asking for their support at this critical juncture. He has already talked with more than 500 alumni at three Richmond-area events.
“No university is stronger than one that is engaged with active alumni,” Rao said. “My wife, Monica, and I are gratified that our alumni leadership has decided that the time has arrived for our alumni and friends to expand our partnership in shaping the future of this great institution and the future of our deserving students.”
The last major scholarship effort at VCU occurred from 1999 through 2001. During the Merit Scholarship Campaign, which featured a dollar-for-dollar match from the VCU Alumni Association and the VCU Foundation, 111 endowed scholarships were created. In total, the Campaign for VCU, which ran 1999 through 2007, produced 250 individual scholarship funds across both VCU campuses.
More information about Opportunity VCU is available at www.advancement.vcu.edu.
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 223 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.