Make it real. Campaign for VCU.

Make it




Make it real. Campaign for VCU.

Make it


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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

Our progress:
Our goal: $ 750 Million

Our progress

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.

Here’s how your gifts are helping our progress

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. 

Look at what we have already achieved together

Supporting Students

Ciara McMillian (B.A.’16/A)

“I would like to start my own school of theater, so that I can introduce people like me, who come from places like Mississippi, to things that other people may have said they could not do.”

McMillian’s home state is a “tough place” for education. “The system is failing there,” she says. “They’re failing the kids by not giving them the opportunities they need to succeed. They make your dreams very small.”

To keep alive her dream of becoming an actor, she looked north, to VCU.

A turning point came with a particular class in her senior year as a performance major. Solo Performance, for which she had to write and perform her own piece, taught her how to “not be afraid to give the world my point of view. I cannot tell you how much I grew as an artist.”

With the higher tuition costs of an out-of-state student, McMillian’s Richard and William Newdick Scholarship helped tremendously in restoring her ability to dream big and challenge the norm. Fulfilling her dream of her own theater school will mean she can help others do the same.


Funding Breakthroughs

Alan Dow, M.D. (M.S.H.A.’05/AHP; H.S.’04/M)

“We know that almost 400,000 people a year die from medical errors. That’s a horrific number. We’re trying to create better, safer health care experiences.”

As VCU assistant vice president of health sciences for interprofessional education and collaborative care, Alan Dow, M.D. (M.S.H.A.’05/AHP; H.S.’04/M), works to bring together students training to be doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals in innovative ways to improve patient care.

“Health care is about having the best team taking care of the patient,” he says.

Dow holds the Ruth and Seymour Perlin Professorship of Medicine and Health Administration, created by a gift from Jonathan Perlin (M.D.’90/M; Ph.D.’91/M; M.S.’97/AHP), which both supports and validates his efforts.

One of his many innovations is an online geriatric-care course where students must work together using differing information to come to an agreement on the best course of care. Dow believes methods like these help bolster a health care practitioner’s “psychological safety,” giving them the confidence to speak up about concerns or offer new ideas.

“That confidence,” he says, “is a really big part of providing better patient care.”


Enriching Lives

Enriching Lives

“We have a couple of former players who are in the NBA. They tell us this [facility] is nicer than some NBA practice facilities.”

Before the new Basketball Practice Facility opened in 2015, the VCU men’s and women’s basketball teams practiced in a gym without air conditioning, then disperse across campus, to the cafeteria, to the weight room or to their studies.

The new facility, on West Marshall Street, has been a literal game-changer. The $25 million building, of which $14.5 million was funded privately, comprises courts with high-tech equipment; a weight room; a sports medicine room with hydrotherapy tubs; players’ lounges; a dining area; and coaches’ offices.

Aside from the obvious improvement in comfort and convenience, men’s basketball forward and criminal justice graduate student Mo Alie-Cox says it’s helped him become a better player, thanks to its 24/7 access and coaches on tap. The new facility has helped with his schoolwork, as he comes to the facility after his study room closes at 10 p.m., and it has improved communication among his teammates on the court because the players are spending more time with one another off the court.

And it will continue to have a positive impact on the team by attracting the best new recruits. “As a high school student coming in and seeing this,” Alie-Cox says, “It’s going to make you think, ‘This is some place I want to get better at.’ ”


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.



Steering Committee

  • 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.

$587.4M Total raised during campaign
94,702 Number of campaign donors
Piggy bank
29,048 Number of alumni donors to the campaign
53New endowed chairs and professorships
256New endowed scholarships and student support funds
71New endowed faculty support and research funds
Increase in the number of gifts from alumni since the start of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU
Number of gifts from alumni
  • 8,064
  • 9,403
  • 9,269
  • 9,230
  • 10,320
  • 11,294
  • 10,261
  • FY12
  • FY13
  • FY14
  • FY15
  • FY16
  • FY17
  • FY18
Total goal numbers by unit
Each row includes unit name, total goal amount dollars, total dollars raised and total goal percentage raised.
UnitTotal goalTotal dollars raised% of total goal raised
Allied Health Professions$10,000,000$8,051,25380.5%
Honors College$5,000,000$1,701,64434.0%
Humanities and Sciences$15,300,000$12,545,76482.0%
Life Sciences$10,500,000$9,820,43493.5%
Massey Cancer Center$120,000,000$93,502,76477.9%
Social Work$2,250,000$1,911,81485.0%
VCU Health System$150,000,000$26,947,47218.0%
OVERALL TOTALS$750,000,000$587,392,55678.3%

*Numbers as of April 16, 2018.