Graphic promoting the 2018 Volunteer Service Awards

Alumni Volunteer Service Awards

The biennial Alumni Volunteer Service Awards recognize and honor alumni for their outstanding accomplishments and service to the alumni organization and to the university. The 2018 recipients were honored Oct. 19. View photos from the event.

2018 recipients


Austin Stewart, sociology major, medical humanities and nonprofit management minor, Class of 2019

Photo of Austin Stewart“Service above self” is a life motto for Austin Stewart. He considers volunteerism an integral part of his identity and has carried that forward into his time at VCU.

“I volunteer not for a thank you or a smile,” Stewart says, “but to know you have the power to change the lives of others around you.”

VCU has provided much more than an education, including professional development, an understanding of the importance of philanthropy and networking, and the chance to progress his work ethic, he says.

Stewart quickly made himself a key member of Students Today Alumni Tomorrow, VCU Alumni’s student organization. He has served as a member of STAT’s Leadership Council, served as director of spirit and traditions and now is the group’s vice president. Before joining the VCU Alumni team as a student employee in fall 2017, he donated countless hours of volunteer service to the office.

His work on specific projects and events includes planning programs such as the Homecoming parade and tailgate, helping launch the Traditions Keeper mobile app, learning how to request funding from the Student Government Association and volunteering at the university’s Thank a Donor Day and during Class Giving Week.

Stewart, who also is a student donor, says he wants his support for VCU to go far beyond personal nostalgia about “the best days of my life.”

“By supporting your alma mater,” he says, “you are helping someone gain a valuable asset: a quality education.”

VCU Alumni GOLD Award

Andrew Hobson (B.S.’12/En)

Photo of Andy Hobson

Andrew “Andy” Hobson has a talent for planning events and programs that connect VCU engineering alumni, students, staff and faculty with members of the larger community.

He expanded the VCU Alumni Engineering Alumni Board’s Third Thursday networking events by partnering with companies such as QuibicaAMF and Anthem and inviting speakers from local industry, VCU and other nearby universities. The talks strike a balance of learning and fun, such as one about reproducing a beer from the Jamestown settlement. He helped to create the College of Engineering’s inaugural Alumni College event, which gave alumni the chance to go back to school for a day and learn about hot topics such as blockchain, a key technology behind the creation and use of cryptocurrencies including BitCoin.

He’s also brought a sense of fun to one-off events. For example, last summer, he organized a cleanup event of the James River at Ancarrow’s Landing in Richmond, Virginia, and closed it out with a celebratory reception with a jazz band at nearby Legend Brewing Co.

As president of the Engineering Alumni Board from 2016-18, Hobson also served on the VCU Alumni board of governors, and he actively supports the VCU College of Engineering as a member of the Engineering Dean’s Society.

Hobson says he was inspired to give back by his experiences with older alumni, who helped jump-start his career in the HVAC industry. He is an officer of the Richmond chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers and helped start a student chapter of the organization at VCU.

“I hope that the progress we made and the events we created while I was president of the Engineering Alumni Board will inspire more students to stay involved after they graduate,” Hobson says.

Eugene H. and Rosalia C. Hunt Alumni Pride Award

Joseph Lowenthal Jr. (B.F.A.’55/A)

Photo of Joe Lowenthal

Joe Lowenthal’s passion for his alma mater, Richmond Professional Institute, and VCU, the university RPI became when it merged with the Medical College of Virginia, is great enough to create enduring monuments.

In 2007, he joined the RPI Alumni Council of VCU Alumni and promptly began helping envision “Tableith,” a spiral sculpture now located between Ginter House and Scott House on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus. Lowenthal helped research and compile the information on each of Tableith’s 51 discs (one for each year of RPI’s history), among other tasks.

After Tableith was completed, Lowenthal devoted his volunteer hours to an RPI History Wall project. In 2013, as head of the committee developing the project, he began a four-year labor of love overseeing the conceptual, fundraising and construction phases of the exhibit, located in the University Student Commons. Dedicated in April 2017, the history wall focuses on the people and places of VCU’s RPI heritage and a timeline of significant events in the institution’s history.

Lowenthal supported these initiatives to preserve RPI history as a donor as well, giving to the RPI Sculpture Fund and the RPI Heritage Campaign, among others.

Lowenthal has also manned RPI Alumni Council booths at various events, assisted in planning RPI reunions from 2008-18, chaired the RPI Alumni Council from 2014-18 and served on the VCU Alumni Board of Governors from 2014-18 and on the board’s Outreach and Engagement Committee.

As RPI marked its last Reunion class in April 2018, Lowenthal now is supporting the formation of the new VCU Alumni Emeriti Society, which will bring together alumni from both campuses who have a deep connection to VCU’s roots. He is also a part of the Life Member Society of VCU Alumni.

“As long as I am able, I will continue to do my part,” he says.

VCU Alumni Outstanding Program Award

Military Veterans Alumni Council Veterans Day Reception

Photo of Saif Khan

The Veterans Appreciation Reception held on VCU’s campus Nov. 10, 2017, was the first event organized by the VCU Alumni Military Veterans Alumni Council, which offers the opportunity for alumni and student veterans to connect with one another through their shared bond of military service.

The reception included distinguished guests Dan-Viggo Bergtun, president of the World Veterans Foundation, and Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, adjutant general of Virginia. Saif Khan (B.S.’07/H&S), an Iraq War veteran and the first president of the Military Veterans Alumni Council, says the reception gave VCU and the organization “global visibility and a chance to highlight our mission.”

The council is currently reaching out to alumni who are veterans, inviting them to participate in networking, to serve as mentors to current student veterans and to get more engaged with the VCU community. The council is one of several universitywide programs aimed at helping veterans at VCU.

“It makes me proud to learn that the university I attended is listening to the needs of our veterans and making changes to make military to civilian transition easier,” Khan says.

He adds that a strong network of alumni who are veterans will help VCU become an even more military-friendly school and attract more veterans to attend as students. The reception, which will be held annually, will help to cement and showcase those bonds.

“My goal is to ensure we make our veterans feel at home at VCU and provide them with all the resources they need to be successful as they graduate from VCU,” Khan says.

VCU Alumni Service Award

Franklin R. Wallace Jr. (B.F.A.’87/A; M.P.A.’08/GPA)

Photo of Franklin Wallace

The depth and breadth of Franklin Wallace Jr.’s service to VCU is rivaled only by his service to the community.

His long list of achievements includes co-founding a nationally recognized nonprofit small business incubator and training facility; serving as director of Project Tutor, an academic partnership between VCU and Richmond’s 13th District Juvenile Court for court-referred juvenile offenders; and helping VCU AmeriCorps develop and gain recognition.

Under Wallace’s leadership, VCU AmeriCorps received the Governor’s Community Service and Volunteerism Award for Outstanding National Service Program. The program was also recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service as the No. 3 program in the country based on membership and program outcomes.

Wallace’s service to VCU’s alumni community has had a far-reaching impact as well. He was the first two-term president of the VCU Alumni African-American Alumni Council. In that capacity, he helped increase the organization’s membership to record heights and led the successful development of annual reunions, professional development activities and mentoring programs. He also joined the organization as a Life member and today is a part of the VCU Alumni Life Member Society.  

He followed that with six years of service as an officer-at-large on the alumni association’s board. He served as chair of the service and engagement committees, aided the development and growth of VCU Alumni regional and shared interest affinity groups and helped guide the organization to its current form.

In his role as director of operations at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, he recently oversaw the complete renovation of the Raleigh Building, which will be used for classrooms, labs, meeting rooms and faculty and staff office space.

He encourages alumni to stay involved and help steer this growing university toward a bright future. “The most accessible and rewarding way for most alumni to show their Ram pride is to find a way to participate in and impact the university’s mission,” Wallace says.

Elaine and W. Baxter Perkinson Jr. and Vickie and Thomas Snead Jr. Alumni Award for Extraordinary Service

Ken Thomas (B.S.’91/B) and Pat Thomas

Photo of Ken and Pat Thomas

Pat and Ken Thomas are devoted donors, advocates and supporters of the entire VCU community and have been for more than two decades.

“Pat and I have always valued a college education, and we appreciate being able to give back to help others attain their educational goals,” Ken says.

Their support has made a difference to many aspects of VCU. The couple made gifts to support the construction of Snead Hall, the Siegel Center and the Basketball Development Center. The couple has faithfully contributed to the Ram Athletic Fund for more than 20 years, and their initial donation made the VCU Alumni Legacy Scholarship possible. The Thomases are associate members of the School of Business Investors Circle, the President’s Club and the Founders’ Society, and both belong to VCU Alumni’s Life Member Society.

Ken also gives generously of his time. He served on VCU Alumni’s board from 2005-17, including as treasurer, vice president and president. In particular, he applied his business acumen to assist in the process of moving the former VCU Alumni Association to an umbrella organization, VCU Alumni. He also served on the fast track M.B.A. advisory council, on the board of the Business Alumni Society and as an ex officio member of the School of Business Foundation board.

He finds it particularly satisfying, he says, to direct and participate in activities that encourage more alumni to become involved with their alma mater.

The Thomases are proud to see VCU grow into a nationally recognized university and outstanding research institution. Always the devoted Ram fan, Ken adds, “The Final Four appearance in 2011 was nice as well.”

Edward H. Peeples Jr. Award for Social Justice

Sarah Huggins Scarbrough, Ph.D. (M.S.’07/GPA; Cert.’07/GPA; Ph.D.’12/GPA)

Photo of Sarah Scarbrough

While studying criminal justice and public policy and administration at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU, Sarah Scarbrough, Ph.D., worked on dissertation research at the Richmond City Justice Center that changed the course of her life.

While she was glad to see the progress the inmates made in turning their lives around, she also noticed them struggling because of a lack of support, money, clothing, jobs, phones, transportation or other resources.

“I really developed a strong calling to work in this field — to provide a voice for the voiceless and to be a small part in providing an opportunity for change within a marginalized population,” Scarbrough says. “After over 2,000 research hours in the jail, I just hadn’t had enough.”

She became program director in the Richmond Sheriff’s Office in the Richmond City Justice Center in 2013. Three years later, she created REAL (Recovering from Everyday Addictive Lives) Life, a nonprofit organization that assists individuals who have been impacted by incarceration, homelessness or addiction. The next year, the organization opened a community center and the REAL House, which provides sober housing for those exiting incarceration. In January 2018, funding for the nonprofit allowed Scarbrough to leave other employment and devote herself to REAL Life full time.

Scarbrough’s time at VCU gave her a springboard into her work. Professors at the university “supported me when I didn’t even support myself,” she says.

She’s proud of how VCU has become “a leading voice in Richmond” on these social justice issues. By working together, Scarbrough says, members of the Richmond community can help future generations experience less addiction, crime and homelessness.

MCVAA Hodges-Kay Service Award

Michelle R. Peace, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’05/M)

Photo of Michelle Peace

Michelle Peace, Ph.D., served as president of the MCV Alumni Association of VCU through a crucial period. She steered the organization through a major shift, to an inclusive model that does not require paid membership. So much change was occurring that the organization asked her to stay past her original two-year term, making her tenure as president 2015-18.

Peace is proud of the searching and exploration that MCVAA board members engaged in around the organization’s past, present and future. She expects this work to lead to “a stronger, more creative, more engaged, more supported, more vital, more excited institution,” she says.

Peace is no stranger to leadership. Aside from her time as president of MCVAA, she has been a member of MCVAA’s board since 2008. She currently serves as president of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists, an international not-for-profit professional organization that puts on a major conference in the discipline each year.

Aside from volunteering her time, Peace has been a loyal donor to VCU. She has supported the Student Professional Development and Travel Fund in the forensic science department, the Medicine Annual Fund and the Department of Forensic Science Annual Fund, among other initiatives at the university. She also belongs to the Life Member Society of VCU Alumni.

Her academic career has centered on VCU. She helped to develop the university’s undergraduate program in forensic science. In 2007, she became associate chair of the department and has since served as interim chair.

She likes to encourage members of the VCU community to get involved and have a voice.

“If you hope for anything,you can probably find an outlet for that at VCU, with all of its diversity, expanse and depth,” she says. “The collective effort at VCU is worth any investment.”



Platinum sponsor

Nationwide logo 2014

Gold sponsor

 Wilder School logo

Silver sponsors

College of Engineering Foundation logoVCUarts 90th anniversary logoSchool of Business Foundation logo

About the awards

VCU Alumni honors individuals in nine categories. General contributions of board and/or committee member service and other volunteer support may qualify nominees. Additional criteria for specific categories are listed below. Any or all of these criteria will be considered and the overall strength of the nomination is more important than meeting each and every criterion. 

VCU Alumni Service Award
Awarded to an alumnus/alumna

Eugene H. and Rosalia C. Hunt Alumni Pride Award
Awarded to an alumnus/alumna

VCU Alumni GOLD Award
Awarded to a graduate of the last decade

Awarded to a student

VCU Alumni Outstanding Program Award
Awarded to a VCU Alumni affiliated group

MCVAA Hodges-Kay Service Award
Awarded to a graduate of one of the health sciences schools

Edward H. Peeples Jr. Award for Social Justice
Awarded to a graduate

Elaine and W. Baxter Perkinson Jr. and Vickie and Thomas Snead Jr.
Alumni Award for Extraordinary Service
Awarded to alumni and friends

Affiliated organization and unit awards
Alumni affiliated organizations and VCU units will recognize alumni volunteers for outstanding service during the ceremony.

Previous award winners

2016: Sarah Kilmon (B.S.'17/MC)
2014: Daniel J. Metz (B.S.'14/En)
2012: Alexandra McDougall (B.S.'13/H&S)

VCU Alumni GOLD Award
2016: Joseph R. Stemmle (B.S.’13/B)
2014: Timothy Nguyen (B.S.'11/B)
2012: Yesenia C. Villalta (B.S.W.'11/SW)

Eugene H. and Rosalia C. Hunt Alumni Pride Award
2016: Michelle Turner (B.S.’93/H&S)
2014:Frank J Shortall Jr. (B.S.'96/B)
2012: Paula B. Saxby, Ph.D. (M.S.'85/N; Ph.D.'92/N)

VCU Alumni Outstanding Program Award
2016:Alumni Charity Challenge
2014: Monroe Scholars Book Award Program, Robert A. Almond (B.S.'74/E; M.Ed.'85/E)
2012: Ram to Ram Program, Joseph E. Becht Jr. (M.B.A.'80/B); VCU Alumni Association's Richmond Promise Program, Eddie Robinson (B.G.S.'00/H&S; M.S.W.'03/SW)

VCU Alumni Service Award
2016: Timmy Nguyen (B.S.’11/B)
2014: B. Ellen Byrne, D.D.S., Ph.D.(B.S.'77/P; D.D.S.'83/D; Ph.D.'91/M; H.S.'91/D)
2012: Corinne F. Dorsey (Dipl.'54/N.; B.S.'65/N); Jon B. Hill (B.S.'85/B; M.B.A.'99; M.S.'12/B)

Elaine and W. Baxter Perkinson Jr. and Vickie and Thomas Snead Jr. Alumni Award for Extraordinary Service
2016: William M. Ginther (B.S.’69/B; M.S.’74/B) and Marsha C. Ginther.
2014: Mary C. Doswell and John (D.D.S.'79/D) C. Doswell II, D.D.S.
2012: Elaine N. Perkinson and W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., D.D.S.(D.D.S.'70/D); Vickie M. Snead (B.S.'76/B) and Thomas N. Snead Jr.(B.S.'76/B)

Edward H. Peeples Jr. Award for Social Justice
2016: David A. Gallagher (B.S.’97/B)
2014: Edward H. Peeples Jr., Ph.D.(B.S.'57/E)

MCVAA Hodges-Kay Service Award
2016: Tammy Swecker (B.S.’93/D; M.Ed.’05/E)
2014: Patricia B. Bernal (B.S.'80/N; M.S.'91/N); Alvin J. Schalow Jr. (B.S.'61/P) and Alvin J. Schalow (B.S.'61/P)
2013: Bronwyn M. Burnham (B.S.'89/P)
2012: Michael O. McMunn, D.D.S. (D.D.S.'77/D)
2011: Frederick T. Given Jr., M.D. (M.D.'53/M)
2010: Mary Shall, Ph.D. (Ph.D.'91/AHP)
2009: George W. Burke III, M.D. (M.D.'70/M)
2008: John C. Doswell II, D.D.S. (D.D.S.'79/D)
2007: W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., D.D.S. (D.D.S.'70/D)
2006: Henry W. Addington (B.S.'51/P)
2005: Barry Kirkpatrick, M.D. (M.D.'66/M)
2004: Corinne Dorsey (Dipl.'54/N; B.S.'65/N)
2003: Louise O. Brooks (B.F.A.'77/A; B.S.'82/AHP)
2002: Marianne Rollings (B.S.'63/P)
2001: Rebecca T. Perdue (B.S.'62/AHP)
2000: Ruth W. Campbell, M.D. (M.D.'57/M)
1999: W.C. Henderson, D.D.S. (D.D.S.'37/D)
1998: Bertha C. Rolfe (B.S.'47/P)
1997: Lindsay W. Butler (B.S.'22/P)
1996: Richard Barnes, D.D.S. (D.D.S.'77/D)
1995: Ralph M. Ware Jr. (B.S.'42/P)
1994: Harry I. Johnson Jr., M.D. (M.D.'53/M)
1993: Thomas W. Nooney Jr., Ph.D. (Ph.D.'70/M)
1992: Katherine C. Bobbitt (B.S.'56/N)
1991: Frances W. Kay (B.S.'59/N)