Dentistry school honors professor, ‘The First 100’

In celebration of the first 100 graduates of color from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, the school has launched a fundraising initiative to celebrate diversity, to promote awareness of the school’s dedication to providing access to health care for all and to encourage 100 percent participation among its alumni.

Known as “The First 100 Dentists of Color,” the new initiative includes the establishment of the Dr. Francis M. Foster Sr. Student National Dental Association Scholarship to celebrate the life and legacy of one of the school’s most beloved professors.

“Our family is humbled that the outpouring of support to honor our father’s legacy continues even after his passing in 2008,” said Carmen F. Foster (B.S. ’74), the eldest child of Francis Foster, D.D.S. “He would be so touched to know that the principles that guided his life as a native Richmonder from Jackson Ward would continue to be embraced, shared and lifted up through the generosity of others.”

Ralph L. Anderson, D.D.S. (D.D.S. ’70; H.S. ’75), and his wife, Judy Cephas Anderson, were the first to contribute to the scholarship endowment with a generous $10,000 gift in honor of Foster, a longtime family friend, and in support of “The First 100” initiative.

“To have our families still connected after several generations and to carry it forward and still be interactive in the community is a double blessing on many levels,” Anderson said. “My wife and I thought the idea to contribute to a scholarship at the school, especially to honor Dr. Foster, who was such an iconic member of the African-American community, was a perfect match.”

Anderson is grateful for the education he received at VCU. He is the school’s third graduate of color, after James A. Booker Jr., D.D.S. (D.D.S. ’61; H.S. ’71), and Thomas Wright Jr., D.D.S. (D.D.S. ’69).

“VCU has one of the best dental schools in the country. The faculty is excellent and it’s a wonderful place to receive this type of education,” he said.

The Foster scholarship will be available for dental students who are members of the Student National Dental Association.

“Francis Foster stood for equality for everyone and was the most compassionate human being I have ever known,” said David C. Sarrett, D.M.D., dean of the VCU School of Dentistry and associate vice president for VCU Health Sciences-Faculty Affairs. “We are so very grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Anderson for celebrating his legacy and for celebrating ‘The First 100’ initiative in this generous way.”

To learn more, contact Barbara Payton (B.S. ’83), director of development for leadership annual giving, at (804) 827-1537 or