Thalhimer gift creates legacy in business school

Virginia Commonwealth University junior Ian Bennett is a standout in the School of Business. Studying financial technology, economics and statistics, Bennett has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout his college career. In 2008, his hard work was rewarded. He won a Charles G. Thalhimer Family Scholarship.

Raised in Midlothian, Va., Bennett comes from a family of five children with divorced parents. For him, financing his education has been a struggle. With the aid of the Thalhimer Family Scholarship, however, Bennett said he has more time to devote to his studies, his community and his future.

“Since I don’t have to worry about finances, I can talk to more industry professionals, working on my career,” he said.

The Thalhimer Family Scholarship was established in 1986 as a part of the Thalhimer Family Endowment Fund. The scholarship provides recipients with funding for one year’s tuition and fees as well as a stipend.

Charles G. Thalhimer Sr. had recently retired from Thalhimer Brothers when then-president of VCU Edmund F. Ackell, M.D., D.M.D., asked for his help raising funds for the university. Thalhimer’s wife, Rhoda, who passed away in 2003, had served on the board of the VCU Foundation for more than 20 years and had encouraged his participation. Thalhimer accepted Ackell’s challenge, beginning with a significant gift of his own, which created the Thalhimer Family Endowment Fund.

“I know how vital VCU is to the community,” Thalhimer said. “It’s been a great part of my life, seeing things develop the way that they have and staying involved.”

The Thalhimer Fund also allows the school to bring in an annual scholar-in-residence and an executive-in-residence for lectures.

Each year, Thalhimer and his son, Harry, try to meet with the recipients of their family scholarship. “Meeting them has been incredibly impressive,” the younger Thalhimer said.

Bennett said he was honored to meet Thalhimer family members at a number of events held to honor scholarship donors and their recipients.

“They seemed genuinely interested in my success, my future outlook. I felt overwhelmingly thankful more than anything,” he said.

The Thalhimer family has been extremely generous to the university over the years, not only aiding the School of Business but also providing support elsewhere, from creating an endowed chair in the School of the Arts to providing crucial funding throughout the School of Medicine, including research at the VCU Massey Cancer Center.

“Our university is fortunate to have such an extraordinary family take an interest in our students and our programs,” said Ken Blaisdell, executive director of the School of Business Foundation. “When the history of VCU is written, the Thalhimer family will be seen as playing a pivotal philanthropic role, literally helping to change the character and reputation of the institution.”

To make a gift to the School of Business, contact Ken Blaisdell, executive director of the School of Business Foundation, at (804) 828-1487 or