Professor’s gift supports Brandcenter students

One day Brandcenter professor Peter Coughter came home from work and told his wife, C.F., he wanted to give back to Virginia Commonwealth University in some way.

“He is a natural teacher and has enjoyed teaching at VCU,” she said. “He has gotten so much from the students there and wanted to give back to them in a concrete way.”

In 2007, the couple made a $50,000 commitment to establish the Coughter Scholarships at the VCU Brandcenter. Two need- and merit-based scholarships in the amount of $5,000 are awarded each year to two second-year students to lessen the burden of tuition costs. The gift will fund scholarships for two students each year for five years.

While C.F. gives her husband all the credit for coming up with the idea for the gift, she looks forward to meeting the recipients when the couple hosts end-of-the- year graduation barbecues at their Richmond, Va.-area home.

“It’s fun for me because I can put face[s] to the names,” she said.

Like many VCU students, this year’s scholarship recipients, Whitney Martinez and Kendall Beveridge, planned to finance their entire graduate education in the creative brand management track through loans. With this scholarship help, their debt load after graduation in May will be lighter.

Soon, Martinez will search for employment at advertising agencies in California with hopes to land a position on the client-side of advertising. She said her parents are thrilled about the scholarship.

“It has helped a lot,” she said. “I definitely appreciate the generosity of the Coughters.”

Beveridge looks forward to a career in nonprofit communications but said she is keeping her options open. Agency recruiters will visit the Brandcenter to meet students and see their work in April.

“A lot of [students] come here because the school has very good relationships in the industry,” Beveridge said. “But the professors know there is a big need for tuition assistance. It’s so nice to get this gift.”

Both scholarship recipients are enjoying taking their first class this semester with professor Coughter — a presentation-skills course, which both said is immensely popular among students.

“Peter Coughter has a big presence at the Brandcenter,” Martinez said. “Although most students don’t have him until their final semesters, everyone knows who he is. I think it builds anticipation for his classes.”

Coughter said he and his wife made the gift to the Brandcenter because they believe it’s the right thing to do. “These students are trying to do something meaningful with their lives,” he said. “A lot of kids need the help.”

Scholarship support for students is among Brandcenter Director Rick Boyko’s highest priorities.

“Nothing is more important than the young people we teach,” Boyko said. “When faculty members support the school in a significant way, it sends a powerful message to our alumni, friends and students about the importance of giving back.”

To make a gift to the Brandcenter, contact Beth Harrington, senior director of development, at (804) 828-8384 or