Wilder alumnus funds scholarship

Eric Witzig (M.S.’95/GPA) recently pledged $28,000 to the Make It Real Campaign for VCU to establish a scholarship for criminal justice students in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. The program’s first undergraduate scholarship, the Eric W. Witzig Scholarship in Criminal Justice will give preference to first-generation students and students with demonstrated financial need.

Part of the inspiration for the scholarship, Witzig says, came from his father, a first-generation student who earned a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate in engineering.

“My grandfather stopped going to school after eighth grade, so my dad was the first in our family to go to college,” he says. “For VCU first-generation students just starting out like this, it’s a lot to handle.”

His own rewarding graduate experience inspired him, too. He worked as a homicide detective for the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department for more than 20 years before beginning a career at the FBI in 1989. In 1992, Witzig enrolled in VCU’s criminal justice program, then part of the College of Humanities and Sciences. Fortunately, he could take classes through the FBI Academy rather than commuting to campus to meet his requirements.

“My graduate experience was infinitely superior to any other experience I’ve ever had,” he says. “There was a tremendous amount of learning taking place, and I enjoyed every bit of it.”

Witzig became a supervisory intelligence analyst for the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division in 2004. He retired from the FBI in 2012 and now serves as a director and vice chairman of the Murder Accountability Project, a nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness about accurately accounting for and reporting information on unsolved homicides.

Witzig is pleased that his scholarship will support student success. “This is a contribution I’m proud to make,” he says. He knows students can face serious challenges, “but we want you to succeed and make your own contributions to society.”

To learn more about the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, contact James Wasilewski, director of development, at (804) 828-6205 or wasilewskijr@vcu.edu.