Department chair inspires facultywide giving

For faculty in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Nurse Anesthesia, giving back is second nature — every faculty member in the department has endowed a scholarship or other fund through personal giving. 

The generous facultywide philanthropy supports the department’s mission to advance the nurse anesthesia specialty through research, scholarship and public service.

“We attribute our establishment of endowments to the dynamic, visionary and caring nature of our dedicated chairperson, Michael D. Fallacaro,” said Suzanne Wright, Ph.D., CRNA (B.S. ’87; B.S. ’97; M.S.N.A. ’02; Ph.D. ’09), vice chair of academic affairs, director of doctoral education and director of the Center for Research in Human Simulation in the College of Health Professions’ Department of Nurse Anesthesia.

“He has created an environment that fosters giving, yet he has never mandated or even suggested we each create an endowment. In his everyday work, his message is clear, ‘Be relentless in your efforts to make this department, school and university a better place.’ He set the example by creating his own endowment.”

Endowments come in many forms. For example, endowed scholarships benefit students based on criteria established by a donor. Endowed lectureships, professorships and chairs are used to support distinguished teachers and researchers in strategic areas of the university’s curriculum. All endowments are created with a minimum gift of $10,000. The principal of the gift is invested and a portion of the earnings, usually 5 percent, is paid out annually. These named endowments last in perpetuity and help sustain academic quality by providing a guaranteed, never-ending source of financial support. 

“This is a monumental achievement,” said Cecil B. Drain, Ph.D., CRNA, FAAN, FASAHP, dean of VCU’s College of Health Professions. “It’s one of the reasons our nurse anesthesia program continues to be recognized as the best in the country.”

The group was recognized at an April 2013 ceremony where Fallacaro, D.N.S., CRNA, was invested as the inaugural Herbert T. Watson Endowed Professor in the Department of Nurse Anesthesia.


Col. Herbert T. Watson, professor emeritus and past chair of the department, also was recognized for his significant contributions to VCU and to the profession. His gift created the first individually endowed professorship in the department and the first of its kind in the nurse anesthesia specialty. 

“This extraordinary example of faculty philanthropy not only illustrates a culture of giving, but it is also proof of a heartfelt commitment to past, present and future patients,” said Sheldon M. Retchin, M.D., M.S.P.H. (H.S. ’79), senior vice president for VCU Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System. “Our nurse anesthesia students can be proud to be a part of such a caring environment and our university can be proud of the department’s leadership.”

To learn more about the Department of Nurse Anesthesia, contact Heather E. Millar, director of development, at (804) 828-5220 or

Endowments established by nurse anesthesia faculty:

  • Chuck Biddle Nurse Anesthesia Fund
  • Family Education and Wellness Fund established by Nickie Damico
  • Dr. Thomas Corey Davis Scholarship
  • Dr. Michael D. Fallacaro Patient Safety Scholarship Fund
  • Christian R. Falyar Endowment for the Advancement of Regional Anesthesia
  • Beverly George-Gay Scholarship Fund
  • Dr. William Hartland Jr. Fund
  • Elizabeth Glenn Howell Nurse Anesthesia Anatomy Camps, Workshops and Student Laboratory Fund
  • Lemont "Monty" B. Kier Nurse Anesthesia Fund
  • Dr. Suzanne Wright Diversity Fund