Category: VCU Business Society – Alumni

Why I Give – Rose Gilliam

Rose Gilliam

Rose Gilliam graduated with honors from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business in 1995. She earned a bachelor’s degree in finance after seven years of hard work and balancing school with a full-time job and a family. Today, Rose is Argent Credit Union’s CEO/President and oversees a $205 million dollar organization with over 23,000 members.

 A loyal donor to the School of Business annual fund, Rose has consistently increased her giving each year and has been a member of the Investors Circle for the past five years.


Why do you give?

I was born and raised in Chesterfield County and I’ve enjoyed seeing VCU grow and change for the better. It’s been good for the community and everyone that has been through VCU. When I give back to VCU it feels like a way to help provide opportunities for current students and give back to the community at the same time.

The VCU da Vinci Center is a perfect example of one of those opportunities and something that the School is doing to make students more well-rounded and marketable. When you get into the working world, you need to be able to work with other disciplines. Programs like the da Vinci Center also help current students to gain experience working on a team and help them to see the bigger picture of a project.

Progressive education opportunities such as this make me proud to be a lifetime member of the VCU Alumni.

What was your experience like as a student?

I was at VCU for one year before getting married, and I ended up choosing to leave school because it seemed like too much at the time with full-time school, a part-time job and being a new wife. When I finally went back to school, it was because I knew I needed a degree to advance in my career. Originally I had planned to focus on accounting, but at the urging of my mentor at Argent, I went with finance because it allowed me to have a more complete look at the whole organization.

It was a long road to my degree with a lot of sacrifice and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband, my parents and my in-laws. I went to school at night and took a couple courses each semester. I appreciate every single class I was able to complete. It took me seven years to finish my degree, but it was worth it.

Do you have any advice for current students?

Take advantage of opportunities for internships or part-time jobs in your field of study. It will help prepare you for the real world. Learn everything you can and don’t take your education for granted. It will give you tools that will help you in your career and in the future.

Read about previously featured friends and alumni:

Erica Billingslea
Trish and Jon Hill

Tom Snead speaks, inspires at StartUp VCU event

The journey any VCU student embarks on after his or her very first day of class has limitless possibilities. When former VCU Board of Visitors Rector and VCU School of Business building namesake Thomas G. Snead first arrived in Richmond to attend VCU, he said he had very few aspirations other than being a Richmonder.

Sponsored by StartUp VCU, Snead spoke to entrepreneurial-minded students involved with the growing student organization at a special event held at the new School of the Arts building The Depot.

Snead addressed a crowd of nearly 30 students Monday night, describing his time at VCU and how he became who he is today
Snead addressed a crowd of nearly 30 students Monday night, describing his time at VCU and how he became who he is today

Snead, who graduated from VCU in ’76 with a degree in Accounting, described how he came to attend VCU after growing up as, “a farm boy” in rural Virginia.

“I thought I had died and gone to heaven,” Snead said. “I had never seen so many lights in my entire life at the time.”

StartUpVCU President Jack Alden and Vice-President Carmine Di Maro said they chose to have Snead speak at their event last week after personally getting to know him this last year. Alden said both he and Di Maro felt Snead’s story was inspiring and wanted him to share it directly with organization members and the student population.

“We wanted to have somebody who has really given back to their community share their story,” Alden said. “It really rings true his message of hard work and following the journey wherever your path might take you. You never know where you might end up.”

During his presentation, Snead described how he came to become one of the most recognizable and influential members of the Richmond business community. After meeting his future wife, Vickie Snead, on a blind date during his second semester of college, Snead said he was encouraged by her to aspire for a good career out of college.

Snead said he had been seeking a degree in General Studies, but decided on Accounting before returning to school in the fall as a sophomore. After earning good grades his second year, Snead said one of his professors encouraged him to apply for an internship with KPMG, an audit, tax and advisory firm which wielded great influence in Richmond area business at the time.

“It changed my life. They gave me a job,” Snead said, offering that same encouragement to students Monday night. “Take those internships. They’ll open your mind. Do whatever it is you have to do. It opens doors and you will learn a lot.”

From internship to job offers to nearly annual promotions, Snead would eventually become President and CEO of Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield and serve as an executive for several other companies and businesses until choosing to retire in 2006.

VCU alum ’11, Kwaku Osei gave a short presentation before Snead addressed the audience. Currently working for Venture for America, Osei said students who consider themselves non-traditional in their professional approach can still learn tons from taking internships and exploring opportunities outside of their comfort zone.

Osei, Di Maro, Alden and Snead
Osei, Di Maro, Alden and Snead

Osei, who worked for Deloitte Consulting as an analyst immediately after college, said he left the highly reputable and prestigious firm and took an over 50 percent pay cut in order to work for the non-profit, Venture for America. Osei now works in Detroit and proudly works to make a difference in the revitalization of the city.

“There’s going to be a lure of accepting the job offer with the most money or prestige,” Osei said. “But what I want to tell you is to go for the job which will have the most meaningful experience.”

Citing the unique experience VCU and Richmond have to offer students, Osei said students who make the most of their experience at VCU have much to offer the business world.

“You guys here tonight can go head-to-head with anyone,” Osei told his audience. “I’ve been around people from Harvard and Yale and I’ll tell you, they have nothing on me or you.”

VCU Engineering and StartUp member Andrew Batz said he was extremely excited to hear Snead and Osei speak. Batz, who joined StartUp VCU when it was founded in Fall 2012, said the organization has offered him a platform to try and network with business students and mentors who can help him realize his inventions and products to their full potential.

Working in conjunction with StartUp VCU, Batz said a team of him and members from the organization entered the StartUp Weekend competition in Charlottesville last year and won a second place prize for their business plan.

Entering its second year as an organization, Di Maro, who founded the club, said they’re still looking to recruit new students and raise their profile. He said the organization is looking to partner with the newly established, university-wide VCU Squared venture creation initiative as one way to complete that goal.

Marketing junior Wave Wheat attended Monday night’s event hoping to become more involved with StartUp VCU and to hear Snead and Osei speak. Wheat said he has aspirations of being a creative brand manager and possibly opening a niche retail clothing store one day.

“I feel as if everyone in their own right should, if not now, start being entrepreneurial minded at some point in their lives,” Wheat said.

After the event, Di Maro said he hopes events like these continue to inspire students to become more involved with the university and make something of themselves.

“I can count about 20 or 30 people who were not motivated or out in the community doing great things when I met them,” Di Maro said. “As a result of coming to our club and whatever else it may be in their lives, I’ve seen so many people who were just skating by now excelling past imaginable belief. Seeing that transformation makes all the many hours of work worth it.”

-Story by Chris Suarez, student journalist

Business Students Expand Cultural Experience With New International Business Club

VCU students, faculty and staff recognize a diverse and multicultural professional work environment brings innovation, perspective and an often unique, exciting dynamic to the office and classroom.

For Business students Matt Soignoli and Tahira Riaz, those lessons and values are being adopted for a larger scope as the duo hope to establish and popularize the International Business Club.

Soignoli, who grew up in the Richmond area, and Riaz, a Pakistani emigrant and U.S. resident of 14 years, both approached the Office of Student and Alumni Engagement  earlier this year expressing interest in starting a student organization focused on international business.

“The idea stemmed from two people at once,” said Student and Alumni Engagement assistant director Claire Calise, who met and spoke with Riaz and Soignoli separately within a day of each other earlier this semester. “They came together and magic started to happen.”

Within a week of approaching Calise, the new International Business Club was represented at the biannual B.O.S.S. Fair to recruit other students interested in engaging business abroad. At the event, the new IBC co-presidents, Riaz and Soignoli found 20 dedicated and passionate students hungry to learn more about international business.

“I think for our business students in particular, something we’ve stressed often is that we are operating in a global economy,” Calise said. “Just because you’re working for a business in New York doesn’t mean you won’t have an international experience – whether it’s traveling abroad or working with an international client, it’s something that’s starting to hit students. They don’t work in a bubble anymore.”

Riaz is a Junior and new to VCU, transferring from Reynolds Community College this semester to earn a degree in Business Administration & Management. Riaz currently operates a private business with her husband, buying wholesale water-pipe tobacco – known as shisha or mu’assel – to sell to various hookah lounges and tobacco shops in the Richmond area.

Riaz said she moved from Pakistan to Northern Virginia 14 years ago, only relocating to RVA in recent years.
Riaz said she moved from Pakistan to Northern Virginia 14 years ago, only relocating to Richmond three years ago.

Though only six months into Riaz and her husband’s most recent business venture, she said they’ve found one interested client in the area. Because of her experience in purchasing and selling imported goods, Riaz believes she could help other students interested in broadening their business experience to the international level.

“I’m motivated, very passionate, and when I want something, I go do it,” Riaz said. “More and more people I’ve met at VCU, they share that passion. I think VCU can take that passion and use it.”

Sharing that passion is co-founder Soignoli. Currently in his senior year, he plans to finish earning his degree while doing a study abroad program in the spring at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. Initially declaring a degree in Psychology after transferring to VCU from Radford University, Soignoli decided to pursue a degree in Business Administration with a focus on International Management to accompany his Psychology degree.

Soignoli said he plans to visit Miami and New York over winter break to network with professionals before his trip to China next year.
Soignoli said he plans to visit Miami and New York City to network with professionals before his trip to China next year.

“I have a passion for culture and learning about the world,” Soignoli said. “I’ve lived in Richmond most of my life. I just know there’s so much more out there. I want to go out and see it myself.”

Soignoli said once he completes the nearly 150 credits for his two degrees, he plans to re-enroll at VCU to earn an MBA. After that, Soignoli, who is 22, said he would like to study internationally for his doctorate degree before he is 30. His plan, he said, is to become a professor or work for an international non-profit.

“I’m really interested in physical and mental health. I’d love to work for a non-profit that directly helps others” Soignoli said. “But ideally, I’d like to do it myself and teach others.”

Office of Student and Alumni Engagement director Doug Knapp said recent success of new programs such as the International Consulting Program are reflective of student interest in international business. Since the ICP began in 2013, more than 80 students have traveled to Cyrpus, Greece, Spain and the Czech Republic. While abroad, students in the program consult with businesses small and large, such as a family-run restaurant, a winery, PepsiCo and EuroJet.

Riaz and Soignoli said they have numerous ideas for what the club could do and what it should be. Much like Knapp suggests, the co-presidents want to recruit a diverse group of students to share their cultural heritage and teach one another about common professional habits and practices in their native countries and regions. In addition to internal cultural exchange, both leaders said they’d like to invite speakers from local businesses who are engaged in international business to impart wisdom and advice.

“At our first meeting, we asked members what they want this club to look like,” Riaz said. “They told us they wanted to go to the companies that are working in the United States and in other countries which have branches everywhere. They said they want speakers to come and talk about other cultures and languages.”

The IBC will hold elections for an executive board next month. Having only met as an organization twice since recruiting its current core members, Riaz and Soignoli, they have laid out the framework for an organization which could elevate multicultural understanding and appreciation in the School of Business and the international business community.

“I’d like to see the club gain prestige and earn a reputation of being something fun that everyone knows about at VCU and at other universities,” Sognoli said. “I want it to be known as something that creates opportunities for others.”

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

Why I Give – Erica Billingslea

Erica Billingslea

Erica Billingslea ’13 is a Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business alumna who earned her master’s degree in Economics. After graduating, Erica put her degree to work landing a position as an Investment Analyst for the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).

In the fall of 2013 and notably in her first year out of VCU, Erica made a pledge to the School of Business Annual Fund. She used installment giving to spread out her gift over several quarters enabling her to make a larger gift.


Why did you give?

I loved my time at VCU. It also just feels good to give back. I know that my education was made possible through the generosity of the alumni who came before me. So it’s important for me to give back and pay it forward so the incoming class can benefit like I did.

What experiences at VCU helped inspire your philanthropy?

I think the difference between undergraduate and graduate is that with my graduate degree, I knew what I wanted to do in my career. Both Darlene Ward in Career Services and economics professor Dr. Ed Millner were helping me achieve my goals for my education and career path. We laid out a plan for what I wanted to do with my degree and they offered to make connections to help me get there. I was able to land internships at firms that didn’t normally accept interns, which led to a natural transition to the VRS after graduation.

I also participated in the Ram to Ram mentoring program and I’m still in contact with my mentor even after graduating. I think that’s a wonderful program and great resource, but not enough students take advantage of it.

Both of these experiences helped to build and strengthen my connection to the school, and to know that I had individuals at the school who were committed to me and advancing my career.

What advice do you have for current students or other recent graduates?

The faculty are there for you, and they’re willing to go to bat for you. Take advantage of all of the resources that VCU and the School of Business have to offer. Know what you want, go for what you want, and engage others to help when needed.

And most importantly, give back! Installment giving is a painless way to give.


Read about previously featured friends and alumni:

Trish and Jon Hill

Remembering Ed Coffman, Ph.D.


In memoriam: Edward Coffman, Ph.D.

Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

When asked upon his retirement, “If you could sum it all up in one word, what does the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business mean to you?” Edward N. Coffman, Ph.D., said, simply, “proud.”

Edward “Ed” Coffman made the School of Business proud, too. Coffman, an alumnus who passed away July 24 at the age of 72, taught in the Department of Accounting for 46 years, five of which he served as chair.

“This is a sad time for the School of Business community,” said Dean Ed Grier. “Ed was one of those professors who truly relished teaching and interacting with his students. He loved the school, and was loved in turn.”

Even as an administrator, Coffman remained faculty-oriented and deeply respectful of others, said Philip Olds, Ph.D., an associate professor of accounting who taught with Coffman for 33 years.

“He believed that all major decisions should involve serious consideration of the views of faculty,” Olds said. “This characteristic came through most clearly in the five years he served as department chair. Some individuals, once they become an administrator, seem to forget what they believed when they were faculty members; Ed never did that. As chair, he always said that he saw his role as an advocate for the views of the department’s faculty.”

Coffman grew up in the small town of West Point, Virginia. After graduating from high school he worked at the local paper mill with other members of his family, including his father. When Coffman decided to attend college in 1962, he became the first in his family to do so.

At VCU, Coffman met fellow undergraduate Edward L. Flippen, now an attorney with McGuireWoods and a former rector of the VCU Board of Visitors. The two remained close friends for 52 years.

“There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his family and friends,” Flippen said. “Ed always put other people first, and yet, at the same time, he was able to be highly accomplished, doing his job effectively and efficiently. Not surprisingly, he was very popular with students, and developed strong relationships with the faculty.

“As highly accomplished as Ed was, he never bragged [about himself]. He bragged about his family, he bragged about his friends. He bragged about his VCU colleagues. He was the most humble person I have ever known.”

After earning both undergraduate and master’s degrees at VCU, Coffman taught in the Department of Accounting from 1966 to 1968. He left to pursue his doctorate at George Washington University, but in 1970 returned to his teaching position at the School of Business, where he spent the rest of his career. An avid Rams fan, Coffman also was a prolific author of academic books and journal articles. He was a visiting professor at universities across the globe, and received numerous awards, including the Outstanding Accounting Educator Award of the Virginia Society of CPAs.

Coffman witnessed many changes in the university during his tenure. The opening of the School of Business building in 1972 (now Grace E. Harris Hall) provided one of the first opportunities for the business faculty to teach and be housed together in one location. He saw the institution grow and develop into a major comprehensive university that is highly regarded locally and nationally.

Economics professor David Harless, Ph.D., served on several committees with Coffman and later collaborated on a research paper with him. He said that in all their interactions, he found Coffman to be a wonderfully positive person.

“Ed was so genuine: kind, empathetic, compassionate, cheerful,” Harless said. “He was also unflappable. Over the many years at VCU he had to deal with a variety of characters, some of whom were testy and hot-tempered. Ed was able to maintain his calm, positive demeanor even under trying circumstances.”

For instance, Harless recalls one graduate student who had a difficult personality. Not only was she difficult to work with, she was difficult to talk with. Were it not for Coffman’s help, Harless said, she could have easily slipped through the cracks and never completed her degree program.

“I took to calling him Saint Ed for a while,” Harless said.

Coffman’s accomplishments, modesty, openness and friendship so impressed Rasoul Tondkar, Ph.D., in 1979, that when Tondkar was interviewing for a faculty position, he chose VCU.

“When I arrived at VCU, he helped me with my teaching, research and service responsibilities,” Tondkar said. “Since that time I worked with him as a colleague for 32 years until he retired. Not only Ed cared about his colleagues, students, but also cared about total strangers.”

Once, while traveling to a research conference, Coffman and Tondkar were approached in the Charlotte, North Carolina, airport by a man who could not speak English. The man was trying to find his gate and airline.

“Ed started to help him,” Tondkar said. “I said, ‘Ed, we are going to miss our flight.’ His answer was, ‘I need to help this man.’ This is the way I always remember Ed. Eventually he assisted the man and we were the last passengers to board.

“I can share with you how much he has helped me personally and professionally and how much I have learned from him. I have been trying to do what he did for me to do for my students, colleagues and others so that Ed’s legacy of kindness, caring and generosity would continue forever. Finally, I can tell you that I sorely miss my friend and my mentor.”

Coffman is survived by wife, Nell; son and daughter-in-law, John and Carey Taylor; and numerous granddaughters, sisters, nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Ed and Nell Coffman Faculty Endowment Fund (select “other,” then type in “Coffman Faculty Fund”), or Community Missions, First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia.

Linda Williams contributed to this article.

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School of Business Says Goodbye To Retiring Faculty

Special thanks to all of the retiring faculty and staff who will be leaving this year; R. Jon Ackley, Robert Trumble, Randall Sleeth, Suzanne Gallagher, John Everett, Randolph Barker, Robert Wood and Ruth Epps (not pictured).

As the the Spring 2014 semester comes to a close with VCU and its new graduates parting ways, the School of Business will also be saying goodbye to eight of its faculty who are retiring this month.

Last week, the business school held a luncheon in the Snead Hall Atrium, where colleagues, friends and associates of those retiring were able to join them for the afternoon and hear a few words from Dean Ed Grier and Department Chairs about their departing peers.

“It’s a lot of service years between all of them,” Grier said. “We’re going to miss the 243 years of experience leaving.”

The eight retirees represent the departments of Accounting, Economics, Management, Supply Chain Management & Analytics and the VA Council for Economic Education (VCEE).

Dr. Jon Ackley, who’s retiring as an Associate Professor, served as department Chair for Management twice during his career and is responsible for organizing the popular “Business of NASCAR” class that was introduced a few years ago.

“Jon did what many of us aspire to,” said Supply Chain Management & Analytics Department Chair Chip Minor. “That is; take a passion and run with it. He truly puts the university and the school first.”

Dr. Randy Barker, a Supply Chain Management & Analytics professor will also be retiring this year. “Randy is one of those exceptional faculty who excelled in both research and in the classroom,” said Rich Redmond, Interim Senior Associate Dean.

Barker, among many other things, is well known for the research he and his wife conducted on the benefits of having dogs in the workplace.

Also retiring is Dr. Randall Sleeth, a professor whose embrace of Service Learning increased university outreach into the city of Richmond and taught students the value of community involvement.

“Randy has been instrumental in getting students involved in community service,” said Department of Management Chair Doug Pugh. “He’s really leaving behind a legacy.”

Bob Wood, a Management professor will also be retiring this year. “Bob may be best known as the person who developed the Strategic Dilemmas projects for teaching in our Fast Track MBA program.  Strategic dilemmas are in-depth consulting projects our MBA students conduct for local organizations.  They’re a fantastic learning opportunity for students and also provide real value for participating organizations,” said Department of Management Chair Doug Pugh.

Dr. John Everett, a retiring accounting professor said that after 30 years of teaching, he’s excited for new experiences. Everett said the make up of the student body has changed tremendously since his arrival. He believes the university is creating many more opportunities than it ever has before, not just for local Richmonders, but for young people throughout the region.

“VCU has changed for the better over the years,” Everett said. “A rising tide lifts all boats and VCU has done just that.”

Everett said one of the things he will miss most is being in a classroom setting and teaching for “teaching’s sake.” In recognition of his accomplishments, President Rao has appointed Evertt as Professor Emeritus.

Also among those retiring is Dr. Ruth Epps. According to Rich Redmond, Interim Senior Associate Dean, “Ruth was a leader in the school, having served as Department Chair and as a full professor in the Department of Accounting. She will be greatly missed.”

Suzanne Gallagher, the Director of theVCU Center for Economic Education will also retire this year.  “As the Director of the VCU Center for Economic Education for the last 24 years, Suzanne’s unwavering commitment to economic education has made a positive impact on countless teachers, students, and colleagues.  Though she has earned national awards and recognition for her work, Suzanne’s enthusiasm and genuine personality will be remembered and cherished most by those with whom she has worked.  I am grateful for her many contributions to the success of the Virginia Council on Economic Education and the VCU Center,” said Daniel R Mortensen, Executive Director of the VCEE. 

Fellow retiree Dr. Robert R. Trumble, a management professor and former dean, spoke for many when he said that he’ll miss the camaraderie found in working and socializing with other professors and students he’s met during his tenure. Bob looks forward to world travel adventures with his wife and family upon his retirement.

Among this year’s retirees are a few faculty members who were here to witness the 1968 merger between the Medical College of Virginia and Richmond Professional Institute establishing Virginia Commonwealth University.

We thank all of those retiring this year for their dedication and service to the students, the School of Business and the University and wish them nothing but the best in their retirement.

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

*Click on images below for the full version.

Shaka Smart Talks Leadership at Investors Circle Event

Despite the recent resurgence of rumors saying Shaka Smart is leaving VCU for another high-caliber college basketball program, the beloved coach is here to stay.

Last week, The VCU School of Business Foundation hosted a dinner for the school’s Investors Circle at the Jefferson Hotel. Invited to Tuesday night’s dinner was Coach Shaka Smart, who participated in a Q-and-A session with moderator Dr. Jean B. Gasen, Executive Director of the School of Business Center for Corporate Education.

The theme for Tuesday night’s discussion, “Instilling Leadership On and Off The Court,” had Dr. Gasen ask Smart questions regarding the basketball team, Smart’s impression of the student athletes he’s mentored, his coaching philosophies and core values on and off the court.

DSC_5062Having graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon University and earned his master’s in Social Science from California University of Pennsylvania, Smart developed a love for quotes from historical figures. Playing off his well-known admiration of poetry, history and motivational speaking, many of Dr. Gasen’s questions were preluded with quotes from writers and historians such as Sun Tzu and Robert Frost.

Dinner guests had an opportunity to see and hear Smart in a much more intimate setting with the coach answering questions with personal vignettes, recalling stories about being an assistant-coach at Florida University and Clemson and learning to become a leader and mentor for his student-athletes.

Smart also talked about his own family and being a father to his two-year old daughter Zora as well as being heavily influenced by his mother who raised him and his five siblings as a single parent.

DSC_5083When asked by a dinner guest what the greatest feeling Smart has felt as Head Coach, Smart replied that it hasn’t been winning and earning accolades, but instead seeing the student-athletes he watched grow and develop make something of themselves.

“Last week when we were recruiting in California, me and the team were watching Troy Daniels with the Houston Rockets on TV in the playoffs,” Smart said. “I don’t think I had ever been more proud watching him play.”

During Game 3 of the Houston Rockets playoff series with the Portland Blazers, VCU alumnus and A-10 record holder for the most three point field goals in a game, Troy Daniels hit a game winning three-pointer with 11.0 seconds left on the clock.

“I know Troy is going to succeed – in basketball or whatever he does – because he’s a hard worker and knows how to follow directions,” Smart said. “I know it sounds simple, but it makes a world of difference.”

DSC_5077After the dinner and discussion period, guests and members of the Investors Circle were invited to meet and take pictures with Smart.

For members of the Investors Circle, events and dinners such as these provide social and recreational outings for the network comprised of local businesses, charities and VCU alumni.

“It was fantastic. I completely enjoyed it,” said Davenport & Co. Senior Vice President and Head of Business Development Clay Hilbert. “We were founded in 1863 here in Richmond. We’ve been here a long time and we’re happy to be a part of the growth here in Richmond. I think VCU has done a phenomenal job in helping improve the city. We’re big supporters of the School of Business.”

While some members of the Investors Circle are individual donors, many local companies and businesses, such as Davenport & Co. donate to the school and offer invitations to Investor Circle events throughout the year to their employees.

DSC_5070Brandon Hey, a VCU alumnus from 2011 and current underwriter for Markel Insurance, said he was invited to Tuesday night’s dinner through his employer.

“It was a great event and so well put together. I really enjoyed it,” Hey said. “He [Shaka] was a very good speaker. I liked how he applied his coaching staff, the outside work force and the students into his answers.”

Individual memberships costs for the Investors Circle begin at $1,000 and Corporate at
$2,500. For more information, please visit or contact Katy Beishem at 804.827.0075 or  

To read the event coverage from the Richmond Times Dispatch, click here.

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

VCU Business Alumni Society Hosts 5th Annual Golf Open

This past Friday, April 25, the VCU Business Alumni Society hosted the fifth annual Golf Open at the Independence Golf Club located in Midlothian.

Golf Open Committee and staff members Claire Calise, Doug Knapp and Doug Hanson

The Alumni Society invited students, alumni and local businesses to play 18 holes at “The Captain’s Choice” golf outing. School of Business students were able to interact with players at several holes and pass out prizes.  This gave them a chance to interact with the players and network.

“The Alumni Board isn’t only just raising money but a lot of corporate and business members are communicating with and enjoying meeting our students. We’re getting the VCU message out there,” said Doug Knapp, the Director of VCU School of Business Student and Alumni Engagement.

Proceeds from the Open will benefit the Society’s Scholarship Fund and various student and alumni development programs.  Many corporate businesses such as Dominion, BranCore Technologies and Altria Client Services sponsored the Golf Open and sent employees from their companies to play the course.

Andy Iracane and David Walker from Dominion

Dominion employee, Andy Iracane, said that “VCU is a good customer of ours. This is the perfect type of event to work with good customers.  Getting behind events of good customers are events that Dominion likes to sponsor.  Especially since a lot of employees are alumni or have some type of affiliation with VCU.”

Each player’s ticket included lunch, range balls, a welcome bag full of free items, 18 holes of golf on the course, drinks, a dinner reception and many more prizes.

DSC_0014Once registered, players were automatically entered into a raffle with multiple prizes. Some of them included restaurant gift certificates, car cleaning kits and a basketball signed by Shaka Smart and the VCU men’s basketball team.  A few of the holes also had their own prize for skills such as longest drive and a hole-in-one.  On hole nine a player could win a two-year lease of a Mercedes with a hole-in-one.

For more information on the Office of Student and Alumni Engagement along with upcoming events and ways to get involved, click here.

-Article by Amy Calhoun, student journalist

Beta Alpha Psi Rolls Out New Alumni Committee at Spring Luncheon

Beta Alpha Psi Zeta Epsilon Chapter President Barry Norris speaks with
Beta Alpha Psi Epsilon Zeta Chapter President, Barry Norris speaks with VCU Associate Vice President for University Alumni Relations, Gordon McDougall and Mike Gracik, Managing Partner at Keiter.

Accounting Honors Society Beta Alpha Psi held their spring luncheon at the Jefferson Hotel last week, honoring seniors within the organization who will graduate in the next month.

VCU Associate Vice President for University Alumni Relations, Gordon McDougall, was invited to speak at Friday’s lunch to talk about the newly organized Beta Alpha Psi Epsilon Zeta Chapter Alumni Committee and the merits of having a more emboldened alumni organization.

“You are linked with this university for the rest of your life,” McDougall said. “Its reputation will rub off on you and you are the ambassadors for the reputation of this university. Everyday, when you go to work, you brand Virginia Commonwealth University … You should feel a responsibility to be the best you can be with your education, being an informed citizen in the community where you’ll live in.”

The formation of an alumni committee for members of VCU’s Beta Alpha Psi Epsilon Zeta chapter was developed in order to bolster alumni-student relations and generate more support for the honors society and it’s student-members.

During the luncheon, soon-to-be-graduates of Beta Alpha Psi were surprised with the announcement from Amy Gray, Director, Student and Young Alumni Engagement, that Beta Alpha Psi is paying the membership fee for their first year in the VCU Alumni Association.

Students who enroll into the VCU Alumni Association are welcome to join secondary alumni associations as well, reflecting membership in other shared interest or academic university organizations like Beta Alpha Psi, or geographic regions, such as VCU Qatar.

McDougall announces the new VCU Alumni Association McDougall says the Alumni Association also welcomes current students and alumni participation in defining and establishing other affiliations that can be considered under the VCU Alumni Association.

“This idea is to create a system where the alumni relate by their affinity under the umbrella of the VCU Alumni Association,” said McDougall.

McDougall and other members of the VCU Alumni Association encouraged event attendees — many of whom were VCU alumni invited by way of their association to corporate partners of the School of Business — to become members and stay further connected with their alma mater.

Liz Watson, a VCU graduate who now works for Altria as a financial analyst, said she’s not currently a member of the alumni society, but says she’s interested in joining because she believes strongly connected alumni networks help new graduates network to find career and project opportunities.

DSC_4975“I think it’s good to have a mixture and diversity of experience and disciplines,” Watson said. “Especially with the globalization of business now. Just because you’re in finance now, doesn’t mean you’ll never need to know someone with a medical or engineering background.”

Beta Alpha Psi member Chris Maka said other alumni-related organizations such as Ram to Ram mentoring helped him land his summer auditing internship and could lead to a potential career in the coming months post-graduation.

Maka says he’s excited to become a member of the Alumni Association and is planning to continue his membership beyond the year which has already been paid for him.

“A few of my friends have already graduated and a few of them are already members,” Maka said. “I’ll stick around, because I like the idea of connecting with other Rams, and it’s investing back into my college which has already given so much to me.”

For more information on the Beta Alpha Psi Epsilon Zeta Chapter, click here.

For more information on joining VCU Alumni, click here.

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

School of Business Awards Ceremony


On Friday, April 11th, the School of Business held its Awards Ceremony in the Snead Hall Atrium recognizing outstanding students, faculty and staff.

We want to congratulate all of the award recipients for their hard work and dedication in furthering themselves as well as the School.  We are proud to have such incredible individuals a part of the School of Business community.

Below is a list of all of the award recipients along with an image gallery.



Find out more about the Office of Student and Alumni Engagement here. 

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