$2M gift supports H&S students, faculty

A $2 million gift to support the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University will establish a need-based student scholarship and support faculty professional development. The gift also will create a fund to train science majors in verbal and written communications, presentation and interpersonal skills.

Patricia T. Kirkpatrick, a retired Richmond, Virginia, native who now lives in Northern Virginia, made the gift on behalf of herself and her late husband, David W. Kirkpatrick, to support the College of Humanities and Sciences, which houses VCU’s core disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities and is home to two schools, 19 departments and programs and four institutes or centers. Nearly 60% of VCU undergraduates have at least one major in the college.

Kirkpatrick has always believed that “education is the great equalizer” and that expanding access to higher education will be key in making the world a better place.

“My husband and I, we didn’t have any children, so I was musing over what to do with the estate,” she says. “In my opinion, we are headed so far backward [as a country] that it’s hard for me to believe. We’re fighting battles on science, on civil rights, on human rights, on women’s rights that were won when I was a child. We’re going back over history and fighting them again. So I decided [expanding access to education] is what I wanted to do, and I hope it will change people’s lives.”

An initial gift of $50,000 will establish the David W. and Patricia T. Kirkpatrick Scholarship, a need-based scholarship for students in good academic standing who are majors in the College of Humanities and Sciences. A preference will be given to students who have an interest in serving or bettering the lives of underrepresented minorities, such as people identifying as African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Latinx or LGBTQIA+, or those who have interest in serving or bettering the lives of women. Awarding of the scholarship will begin this fall.

A $1.95 million estate gift will be used to increase the Kirkpatrick Scholarship and to create the endowed David W. and Patricia T. Kirkpatrick Faculty Fund and the endowed David W. and Patricia T. Kirkpatrick Science Communications Fund.

The Kirkpatrick Faculty Fund will be used for professional development and incentives to increase the recruitment, retention and advancement of College of Humanities and Sciences faculty. The fund could provide support to promote diversity and inclusion in the highest academic ranks as well as to VCU’s Eminent Scholars program, which recognizes midcareer faculty and rewards them for scholarly contributions to their discipline, the college and VCU.

The Kirkpatrick Science Communications Fund will provide funding for curriculum development and class instruction for students in science majors to learn communications skills to improve academic and career outcomes.

A version of this article was previously published by VCU News.

To learn more about the College of Humanities and Sciences, contact Bethanie Constant, senior director of advancement, at (804) 828-4543 or constantb@vcu.edu.