photo of Business alumna Karen R. Evans

Scholarship honors alumna’s legacy

A new endowed scholarship in the VCU School of Business honors the memory of alumna and local entrepreneur Karen Riefner Evans (B.S.’83/B). The fund was created by Evans’ husband, Jim, while Karen was in treatment for cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of bile duct cancer.

“Karen’s treatment options were increasingly limited as her illness progressed, so we spent some time talking about the legacy she wanted to leave behind,” Jim says. “She loved the idea of helping business students with entrepreneurial aspirations.” 

After graduating from VCU with a degree in finance, Karen worked for several years in the corporate world before realizing that her true calling was as an entrepreneur. Over the next 35 years, she started and managed four successful small businesses, including an accounting and bookkeeping business, Karen Evans LLC.

“Entrepreneurs are risk-takers,” Jim says. “It takes courage to forge your own path the way Karen did.”

The Karen R. Evans Endowed Scholarship received memorial donations from more than 50 donors in the months surrounding Karen’s death in January 2018. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a full-time student with a demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship. It is renewable for up to three additional years if the recipient maintains a 3.0 GPA in School of Business courses.

Jim hopes that the award will inspire students to take risks in their career pursuits.

“If this scholarship can provide an incentive for students to take that leap and pursue entrepreneurship, they may discover that it can pay off,” he says. “Karen’s career is proof that it can be done.”

To learn more about the School of Business, contact Shannon K. Duvall, chief development officer, at (804) 828-1035 or