Alumni associations help raise scholarship funds

Whitney Conroy grew up hearing about Virginia Commonwealth University. So when the time came she naturally applied to the VCU School of Pharmacy. Her mother, Trish Smith Conroy (B.S. ’78), was thrilled.

Now as a second-year student, Whitney’s decision to carry on the family tradition is paying off. During Reunion Weekend in April 2009, Whitney was awarded the MCV Alumni Association of VCU Legacy Scholarship. The Legacy Scholarship supports a child or grandchild of a dues-paying member of the MCV Alumni Association of VCU. The VCU Alumni Association also provides Legacy Scholarships.

“This scholarship meant a lot to me because it recognizes that my mom went to nursing school here, and I am following in her footsteps,” Whitney said. “It also recognizes my accomplishments, the things I have achieved. I very much appreciate this help.”

The leaders of the MCV Alumni Association of VCU and the VCU Alumni Association hope to help even more students like Whitney. The associations, in collaboration with the university’s schools, launched Opportunity VCU, a campaign to raise $50 million for undergraduate and graduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

The leaders of the alumni associations welcome the challenge ahead.

“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 and providing essential support for our deserving students, while adding value for all alumni degrees,” said VCU Alumni Association President Donna Dalton (M.Ed. ’00). “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.”

MCV Alumni Association of VCU President Dr. James Revere (D.D.S. ’65) echoes Dalton’s appeal for student support.

“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,” he said. “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.”

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, the leaders agree, noting 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 the university’s schools will participate in Opportunity VCU in addition to their ongoing annual and capital fundraising 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.