Alumni Stars
1 8 3 8 - 2 0 1 3
Aaron R. Gilchrist Jr. (B.S. ’03/MC),
morning news anchor, NBC4, Washington, D.C.
Cocktails and dinner buffet
Musical Performance
Theatre VCU
Recognizing alumni success
Throughout the worlds of art, business, education, service
and health care, Virginia Commonwealth University alumni
reflect the brilliance of the university. Their knowledge and
experience shine in all areas of human endeavor, illuminating problems, creating solutions and strengthening the
quality of our lives.
VCU Alumni invites you to join us in recognizing these
alumni for their achievements and the infinite possibilities
they bring to the future.
Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and the VCU Health System
W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., D.D.S. (D.D.S. ’70/D), president of VCU Alumni
2013 Alumni Stars
in order of appearance
Sainath R. Iyer
Stephen W. Harms
S. Dallas Dance
Raymond A. Dionne
School of World Studies
School of Social Work
School of Education
School of Medicine
Susan M. Learned
Jane G. Watkins
School of Pharmacy
School of Business
Joseph F. Damico
Oscar L. Martin Jr.
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government
and Public Affairs
Julian C. Metts Jr.
School of Dentistry
School of Engineering
Josephine L. Hargis
School of Nursing
Tonya S. Mallory
Angela T. Bacskocky
College of Humanities and Sciences
Arthur W. Layne
School of Mass Communications
School of the Arts
School of Allied Health Professions
Jesse Vaughan
Sainath R. Iyer
2012 Bachelor of Science
School of Mass Communications
2012 Bachelor of Arts
School of World Studies
“My education at VCU
was not just academic in
nature, but was an
education of the whole
Sainath R. Iyer arrived in Richmond from Fairfax, Va., in
August 2008, with a suitcase and a plan to help then-presidential nominee Barack Obama win the presidency. He left the
city with a stint as an intern at the White House, experience as a
national co-chair of Obama’s 2012 campaign and two bachelor’s
degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University.
The 23-year-old son of Indian immigrants graduated in 2012
with degrees in mass communications and international studies.
His passion for public service took him to Detroit, where he serves
in the Teach for America corps as an instructor at a chronically
low-achieving high school.
Iyer credits VCU for cultivating his interest in helping others.
“My education at VCU was not just academic in nature but
was an education of the whole student,” he says. “I learned a great
deal but, more importantly, through experience, challenges and
relationships, became a better person committed to improving
the welfare of others, particularly those who are most vulnerable
in our society.”
The path wasn’t without obstacles for Iyer, who says that two of
his most influential experiences at VCU were actually failures —
first, a 2.5 GPA his first semester that spurred him to improve to
a 3.85 GPA by the time he graduated. Second, a pre-law adviser
who told him that his first-semester transcript would make it
difficult for him to land at a top law school.
Iyer vowed to prove his adviser wrong. He improved his academic performance, served in leadership roles within several
student organizations, volunteered in the community and bolstered
his language proficiency to include Arabic, Tamil and Spanish.
The fall of his senior year, Iyer netted an internship in the
White House’s Office of Management and Administration. Later,
he became the only person younger than 30 tapped to serve as
one of 35 national co-chairs on Obama’s campaign. His fellow
co-chairs were mostly governors, Obama friends and Hollywood
Iyer still has dreams to follow and major goals to tackle including
those he was told might be difficult to achieve. This fall, he is
applying to a dual-degree Master of Public Policy/Juris Doctor
program at a top law and graduate school. He is also a candidate
for a Fulbright scholarship and a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship.
“I think my experience at VCU has been critical to my success,”
he says. “It has been significant in orienting my trajectory toward
caring about public service.”
S. Dallas Dance, Ph.D.
2002 Master of Education • 2007 Doctor of Philosophy
School of Education
When Baltimore County Public Schools hired S. Dallas Dance as
superintendent, the district hadn’t tapped a person his age for the
position in half a century. At 30, Dance was only five years removed
from earning his doctorate focused on educational leadership from
Virginia Commonwealth University, which led some to question
whether he had the experience to lead the 26th-largest school district in the country. But it didn’t take long to put those questions
to rest.
Under Dance’s leadership, team BCPS has taken significant steps
forward. Frequent, open and transparent dialogue has become a
hallmark of his administration and contributed greatly to the development of Blueprint 2.0, the school system’s newly created five-year
strategic plan. The plan is based on the new Theory of Action,
which Dance shared at the inaugural State of the Schools event
in May 2013. The Theory of Action states that, to achieve the school
system’s goal of ensuring that all students graduate globally competitive, BCPS must create equitable, effective digital-learning
environments and provide all students with opportunities to develop
proficiency in a second language.
Of course, communication has never been a problem for Dance.
By using social media and keeping a constant eye on his email, he
responds to faculty and staff, as well as the community, quickly and
effectively, all of which frees him up from behind his desk to visit
classrooms and meet with students and teachers. In fact, he even
teaches a series of high school English classes at BCPS, which was
something he started doing right out of college as a member of the
Highland Springs High School faculty in Henrico County, Va.
From there, he moved up the ranks to assistant principal at the
high school and then principal at Brookland Middle School in the
same county before moving on to become assistant superintendent
for Louisa County Public Schools. After working for Chesterfield
County Public Schools as the director of school improvement and
instructional support, Dance became chief school officer in the
Houston Independent School District before accepting his current
position, and each stop, he says, has contributed to the vision
he brings to BCPS as its new superintendent.
“Once they made me assistant principal, I never looked back,”
Dance told Baltimore magazine in July 2013. “As a teacher, I worked
with 150 kids. As an assistant principal, I worked with about 600
kids. As a principal, I worked with 1,200 kids. It was always about
making a bigger impact on young people.”
“Once they made me
assistant principal, I never
looked back. It was always
about making a bigger
impact on young people.”
Susan M. Learned, Pharm.D., Ph.D., M.D.
1997 Doctor of Pharmacy • 1997 Doctor of Philosophy
School of Pharmacy
“The education and
mentorship I received under
Jurgen [Venitz]’s direction
was by far the most
influential in providing
for me the professional and
leadership opportunities
I have subsequently
benefited from.”
While studying to earn her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and
Ph.D. at Virginia Commonwealth University, Susan M. Learned
remembers thinking she’d never finish the course work required
before she could really dig into her research. That’s because students focusing on clinical pharmacology had to take not only all
of the mandatory courses for the Department of Pharmacy and
Pharmaceutics but also those required for the Department of
Pharmacology and Toxicology in the School of Medicine.
She soon realized, however, thanks to her adviser, Jurgen
Venitz, M.D., Ph.D., professor and vice chairman of the Department
of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics, that the extra training would
benefit her in the long run. She calls choosing Venitz as her
graduate student adviser the smartest choice she made in her
“The education and mentorship I received under Jurgen’s
direction was by far the most influential in providing for me
the professional and leadership opportunities I have subsequently
benefited from,” Learned says.
At the first position she accepted out of graduate school as a
clinical pharmacokineticist at what is now GlaxoSmithKline,
Learned found she could immediately contribute outside of her
area of expertise.
“I could actively engage in development discussions, formulation design and challenges, clinical development, and toxicology,”
she says. “It is because of this breadth of education and experience that I was soon given opportunities to lead multidisciplinary
project teams.”
Those experiences exposed her work to senior stakeholders
and soon opened opportunities to lead clinical divisions within
the company. Throughout her career, Learned has headed teams
devoted to discovery and development of pharmaceuticals for a
range of treatments in the fields of neurosciences, oncology and
dermatology. She has also worked as head of scientific licensing
as part of GSK’s worldwide business development organization.
In 2010, Learned accepted an assignment to spearhead and grow
a clinical development arm of GSK in Shanghai.
With each opportunity she’s had to lead, Learned says she’s
tried to instill not only a love for the work, but a culture conducive to professional growth and success. In fact, many of her
staff, as well as the students she has mentored, have gone on to
lead their own teams. Still, she adds, it’s just as important to
take the time to have fun and celebrate with colleagues — something she’s valued since her time at VCU.
“I’m someone who strongly believes that celebrating success
(both small and large) brings teams together and helps to ‘gel’
people who may not otherwise find common ground,” she says.
“By taking time to celebrate small successes, we keep motivation
elevated and ensure a highly functional team atmosphere.”
Joseph F. Damico
1997 Master of Public Administration
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
2000 Master of Science in Health Administration
School of Allied Health Professions
Joseph F. Damico always realized what continuing his education
could do for his career. The key rested in finding the university
that could take him where he wanted to go.
“I made a strategic decision early in my career to select
Virginia Commonwealth University as the institution to help
me achieve my career goals,” Damico says. “I believe the programs I’ve graduated from, coupled with VCU’s outstanding
academic reputation, have significantly influenced my success.”
Before enrolling in the Master of Public Administration program
in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public
Affairs, Damico worked as a purchasing manager in what is
now called the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and
Developmental Services. After earning his M.P.A. and, later, his
Master of Science in Health Administration from the VCU School
of Allied Health Professions, Damico found opportunities to
embrace more responsibility.
Now, as deputy director of the state’s Department of General
Services, he oversees budget development and procurement
services, manages department resources and even serves as a
liaison for members of the General Assembly and legislative
“As soon as I completed my M.P.A., I was immediately selected
for a senior management position within my organization, which
then led to the executive-level position I hold today. I’m confident
the M.P.A. degree enabled me to compete for and be successful
in filling an executive-level position,” Damico says. “And, more
importantly, I believe the value of my degree was exponentially
elevated because it was earned at VCU.”
But for Damico, the benefits of an education earned at VCU don’t
rest solely with credentials. By participating in the Commonwealth
Management Institute and the Virginia Executive Institute, both
coordinated through VCU, Damico was able to network with other
senior and executive managers in the public sector. Similarly,
by staying active as chair of the M.P.A. program’s advisory
council, Damico says he can further network with public- and
private-sector leaders as well as identify students and recent
graduates who might be good fits for his department.
Above all, he says, what he’s developed through each of these
roles, and particularly through his education at VCU, is a personal approach to his work that exudes energy and positivity
without sacrificing expectation, enjoyment or gratitude.
“I believe the programs
I’ve graduated from,
coupled with VCU’s
outstanding academic
reputation, have
significantly influenced
my success.”
Julian C. Metts Jr., D.D.S.
1963 Doctor of Dental Surgery • 1965 Residency in Orthodontics
School of Dentistry
“We felt we had established
a track record … to create a
hospital dedicated to the care
of these children, those completely innocent and
at great risk for any hope
of normal lives.”
As a young man, Julian C. Metts Jr. prayed that he would find
a job that would allow him to make a difference. After graduating
from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry,
he found that opportunity in a private practice, located in
Bon Air and then Midlothian, Va., where he served the needs
of adults and children for more than 40 years. But in 1991, following a trip to Guyana, his prayers were answered on an even
grander scale.
As a dedicated member of the South Richmond Rotary Club,
Metts traveled to Guyana as part of a five-member fact-finding
mission aimed at assessing the country’s health care system.
During its journey, the group discovered innumerable ill or dying
children desperate for medical attention. On the trip home, Metts
remembers being deeply disturbed by what he had witnessed.
“I caught myself praying, ‘Lord, please do not bring me back
here again,’” he says.
But once home, Metts became consumed by thoughts of those
countless children. Helping them became his life’s focus.
Over the next eight years, Metts worked as part of an effort
that brought a few children per year back to Richmond, Va.,
where they received medical attention. He then helped to create
a travelling dental practice out of a passenger bus that was shipped
to Guyana, where it provided dental care.
For Metts, these efforts simply weren’t enough to satisfy his
conscience. In 1999, he founded the International Hospital for
Children, a “virtual hospital” that provides medical and surgical
treatment through a network of volunteers throughout the region.
“We felt we had established a track record and, most importantly for me personally, that the Lord clearly was speaking to
me to press forward, in business parlance ‘to take it to the next
level,’” he says, “to create a hospital dedicated to the care of these
children, those completely innocent and at great risk for any
hope of normal lives.”
Metts teamed up with friend and local pediatrician, Frederick
Rahal, M.D. (B.S. ‘53/P; M.D. ‘59/M; H.S. ‘62/M), to raise more
than $200,000 for adding executive leadership to IHC’s efforts.
While continuing his private practice, Metts spent every spare
moment advancing the organization’s support and agenda. Today
the organization, known as the World Pediatric Project, continues to serve children throughout Central and South America,
as well as in the Eastern Caribbean. In the past decade, the
project has grown from impacting several hundred to several
thousand children per year, totaling more than 50,000, with
5,000 surgeries, since its inception. One such success story was
the landmark 2011 surgery of conjoined twins, Maria and Teresa
Tapia of the Dominican Republic, who were born connected at
the chest and abdomen. The twins were separated successfully
at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and were given
a clean bill of health in 2012.
Angela T. Bacskocky
2009 Bachelor of Fine Arts
School of the Arts
Just four years into her career as a fashion designer, Angela
T. Bacskocky has followed a global path to fruition and notoriety. Her fashions have ventured from displays and shows in her
hometown of Richmond, Va., to France, London and Australia as
well as onto newsstands and TV screens worldwide.
In 2011, Bacskocky launched an eponymous fashion business
including a full line of apparel and accessories that appears on
runways and retail racks. Her designs have gained notice from
authorities such as Refinery 29 and Martha Stewart and have
appeared in publications ranging from local magazines to Teen
Vogue and Entertainment Weekly. In 2013, she joined “Project
Runway” as a cast member for season 12.
It comes as no surprise that her work draws international
attention, as it culminates from education and experiences gleaned
worldwide. Bacskocky’s skills cover all aspects of fashion design —
from trendspotting, research and styling to draping, patternmaking, couture garment construction and tailoring as well as
technical design and illustration.
While studying at Virginia Commonwealth University,
Bacskocky enjoyed the breadth of classes available, allowing her
talents to develop and expand.
“The departments, especially in the arts, encourage crossdisciplinary studies,” she says, “and if you’re eager to learn as
many different skills as you can, they’ve got the world to offer
She also capitalized on every opportunity to travel and study
at other institutions abroad. In 2006, she crossed the globe
to England, where she participated in an Artists and Writers
Workshop at Glasgow School of Art. In 2007-08, she visited La
Rochelle, France, where she immersed herself in an intensive
language program at Institut d’Etudes Françaises, and visited
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London,
where she studied menswear fashion design. Amid her travels,
she held internships at Felder Felder, as a design assistant, and
Alexander McQueen, where she produced designs that later
appeared at Paris Fashion Week. To paraphrase Tim Gunn,
fashion mentor from “Project Runway,” Bacskocky is making
it work.
“There’s an innate fear of not being able to make a living in
the arts, or having to sacrifice your greater vision in order to
be profitable,” she says. “I feel like I’m accomplishing both —
delivering a marketable product and uncompromised artistic
“There’s an innate fear of
not being able to make
a living in the arts, or
having to sacrifice your
greater vision in order
to be profitable. I feel
like I’m accomplishing
both — delivering a
marketable product
and uncompromised
artistic expression.”
Arthur W. Layne
1972 Bachelor of Science
College of Humanities and Sciences
1976 Master of Health Administration
School of Allied Health Professions
“I learned many years ago
that my health care legacy
would be the people who
I mentored. Helping others
reach their potential is
a special kind of reward.”
Arthur W. Layne sat in his office in the A.D. Williams Memorial
Clinic Building on the MCV Campus when he found out he’d been
accepted into the Master of Health Administration program in
the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Allied Health
Professions. And even though he was already working in a hospital
setting and had developed a base of knowledge, he says his heart
started to race.
“I knew then that my life and career would be changed forever,
and it was,” he says.
Layne immediately distinguished himself in the program,
being elected class president and earning the Charles P. Caldwell
Leadership Award in 1976. And, like most students in the M.H.A.
program can attest, Layne says the hands-on experience he
gained as a student (and in his professional work before enrolling) truly left an indelible mark.
“That foundation and my administrative residency taught me
that every individual can impact patient care and satisfaction,”
he says.
After leaving Richmond, Va., Layne went on to work as an
administrator at hospitals in North Carolina, South Carolina,
Texas and Arizona, where he now works as president of Intellimed
International Corp. The company provides strategic planning data
and marketing solutions to help health care providers better understand their service area and competitors. When asked what he
does at work, Layne replies that he “mostly gets paid to go visit
his friends.” Layne provides students and faculty in the School
of Allied Health Professions access to Intellimed data to use in
class projects, dissertations and scholarly publications.
He also spends one week each year mentoring students and
working with faculty in the M.H.A. program as an Executive in
Residence. Throughout the year, he is contacted by students and
alumni when they need access to data, a market analysis or help
in a job search.
It’s this connection to his alma mater that remains the highlight of his job, he says, because he gets to share his experiences
with those who will go out and make a difference of their own.
“I learned many years ago that my health care legacy would be
the people who I mentored,” he says. “Helping others reach their
potential is a special kind of reward.”
Stephen W. Harms
1982 Master of Social Work
School of Social Work
The career of Stephen W. Harms exemplifies the limitless possibilities for macro-level social work. Beginning with the first
master’s-level position with the Virginia General Assembly’s
Joint Audit and Legislative Review Commission, to deputy positions for two state governors and a deputy chief administrative
officer position for the city of Richmond, Va., his successes affect
change through social policy and administration.
“His career serves as a paramount example for anyone entering social work with the goal of making the largest possible
impact,” says Robert Schneider, Ph.D., emeritus faculty member
in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work.
Prior to earning his M.S.W., Harms served as a family case
worker, counselor and psychiatric aide. It was at that time that
two of his professors, Schneider and Charles Bernard “Bernie”
Scotch, Ph.D., recommended he make an impact through policy
and administration. The two propelled Harms into a position
with Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission,
ultimately leading to a 30-year career in macro-level work.
“VCU’s School of Social Work launched my career in public
service,” Harms says. “The vision and mentoring of two extraordinary professors, Drs. Scotch and Schneider, opened the door for
me to serve as a social worker in nontraditional settings.”
As an analyst, Harms proved his eye for detail by evaluating
agency programs and identifying methods for improving services and efficiencies to reduce costs. The results of his efforts
netted him a position as a legislative fiscal analyst for the Senate
Finance Committee of the Virginia General Assembly, where he
helped to establish state budget priorities and policy goals. Then,
in 2002, he signed on with the office of the governor, serving
first as deputy secretary of health and human resources, then as
deputy secretary of finance and finally as deputy chief of staff,
advising the governor and secretaries on policies and budgets in
human services and finance, and overseeing agency and program
In January 2013, Mayor Dwight C. Jones called upon Harms
to serve as interim deputy chief administrative officer for the
human services division of the city of Richmond. He accepted
and currently assists the mayor and chief administrative officer
in overseeing the operation of city departments providing human
Ultimately, Harms credits his mother, Alice Harms, who
served as a local elected official, for inspiring his career in public
service, and his wife and children for their patience and support.
“VCU’s School of Social Work
launched my career in public
Raymond A. Dionne, D.D.S., Ph.D.
1980 Doctor of Philosophy
School of Medicine
“I will always be very
grateful for the opportunity
that the faculty and VCU
provided for me that led
to a fulfilling career as
a clinical pharmacologist.”
A unique program and a strong professional network drew
Raymond A. Dionne to Virginia Commonwealth University.
Previously enrolled in a pharmacology program at Georgetown
University, his research involved evaluating new anticonvulsants
and analgesic drugs in rodent models. Unfortunately, progress
proved slow and the link to critical care seemed remote. Dionne,
who also worked part time as a dentist, considered giving up
his research career.
“I was having trouble finding the right balance between doing
research that was intellectually fulfilling and relevant to clinical
practice,” he says.
His clinical experiences demonstrated just how many patients
were afraid to go to a dentist. Dionne hoped to develop a scientific basis for safely using drugs for pain and anxiety in dentistry
by conducting clinical pharmacology studies. There was just one
“I could not find anyone in my small circle of dental and pharmacology colleagues who appreciated this need or knew of anyone
doing such research,” he says.
Enter VCU and its far-reaching connections. Dionne read
in Science magazine about a new training program at VCU. He
brought this to the attention of his mentor, Joanne Nuite, Ph.D.
“She said that she would ‘call Bill and get some more information,’” Dionne says. “Imagine my surprise that she knew Dr.
William Dewey [VCU faculty member] from their days at UNC.”
Dionne enrolled in a postdoctoral fellowship program at VCU,
which led to entry into the Ph.D. program in the Department of
Pharmacology and Toxicology. There, he benefited from the guidance of Dewey, now the department chair, and faculty members
Robert L. Balster, Ph.D., and Louis S. Harris, Ph.D.
“The support and wisdom of Drs. Dewey, Balster and Harris
at that pivotal point in my career was essential for the opportunity to pursue the scientific road less-traveled and sustain my
enthusiasm for translating unmet therapeutic needs into scientific inquiry that eventually informs and often results in changes
in clinical practice,” Dionne says.
After receiving his degree, Dionne joined the National Institutes
of Health, where he conducted clinical and translational studies as
a tenured investigator in the Intramural Research Program
for 34 years. He now teaches at East Carolina University’s
Brody School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine.
“I will always be very grateful for the opportunity that the
faculty and VCU provided for me that led to a fulfilling career as
a clinical pharmacologist,” Dionne says. “I attribute this largely
to the professional judgment and character of Drs. Dewey, Balster
and Harris in taking a gamble on a naïve but well-intentioned
young professional.”
Jane G. Watkins
1975 Bachelor of Science
School of Business
Twice in her life, Jane G. Watkins found inspiration and a
new sense of direction in places bearing the initials VCU. From
her days as a Virginia Commonwealth University freshman to
her current post as CEO for the Virginia Credit Union, Watkins
blazed a trail for businesswomen, as an accountant to an
executive leader, at a time when she says women were not as
welcome in her chosen field as they are today.
“In the 1970s, there weren’t very many women in accounting
and virtually no female executives,” Watkins says. “When one
of my professors pulled me aside and encouraged me to pursue
accounting, honestly, it had never even crossed my mind as an
option. That one conversation changed my life.”
Following graduation, Watkins landed a position as a staff
auditor with an area firm, then went on to become a financial
analyst and an accounting manager. As a child, she learned the
basis of great leadership and humility from her father, William
J. Gouldin Sr., who owned the Richmond, Va.-based flower shop
Strange’s Florist. In busy times — despite his position as owner —
Gouldin swept floors, delivered lunches and did whatever it
took to employ the same sense of service toward his employees
that his business provided for its customers. In 1982, just seven
years into her career, Watkins says she found a similar work
environment at the Virginia Credit Union. Her discovery led to
her finding a home there for more than 30 years.
Between 1982 and 2000, Watkins climbed the ranks from
accounting manager to president and CEO at the Virginia
Credit Union. Along the way, she built a network of professional
affiliations spanning from board memberships in local groups
and societies, to leadership roles among national committees
and organizations. Her efforts have garnered a number of awards,
including the YWCA Outstanding Women award for business
in 2009, Virginia Credit Union League’s Eugene H. Farley Jr.
Award of Excellence in 2010 and Virginia Council on Economic
Education’s J. Curtis Hall Award in 2011. In 2013, she was
inducted into the Virginia Career and Technical Education Hall
of Fame.
Watkins, current president of the VCU Foundation and member
of the VCU Real Estate Foundation, cites her husband of 25 years,
Tscharner, and her two sons, Ried and Mason, for keeping
her grounded throughout her success and for their ongoing support
of her career.
“When one of my professors
pulled me aside and
encouraged me to pursue
accounting, honestly, it
had never even crossed
my mind as an option.
That one conversation
changed my life.”
Oscar L. Martin Jr., Ph.D.
2009 Doctor of Philosophy
School of Engineering
“My VCU education was
top-notch and exposed me to a
diverse set of classmates,
professors and research
professionals. It also exposed
me to cutting-edge research,
laboratory facilities and
technical writing. I’m very
proud of my VCU experience.”
When he was named one of Style Weekly’s “Top 40 Under 40”
in 2012, Oscar L. Martin Jr. said he always wanted to be a college
professor. It just took a little while to find a way to fit teaching
into his life and job at DuPont Teijin Films, where he leads an
organization that develops innovative film products for companies such as 3M Co., Sara Lee Corp. and H.J. Heinz Co.
About the time he was finishing his Ph.D. degree at the
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering, Martin
started teaching through online instruction, as it was something
he could fit into his schedule and do from home.
From there, he launched his own Web-based education company,
TechnologyEd.com, which has grown from a modest three-course
offering at its founding in 2009 to nearly 300 courses and webinars
today focusing on subjects such as polymer science, quality control,
supply chain management, water treatment and innovation, with
programs in business management, information technology, fundamental science and engineering, and quality and regulatory
Courses are geared to accommodate science and engineering
professionals, which Martin was when he started the site, looking
to self-educate at their own pace and advance their careers. Martin
has also used the site to launch a scholarship program for minority
students interested in pursuing careers in technology and
“For me, I wanted to help the next generation of scientists
and engineers reach their education goals,” he says.
Martin’s start in engineering came as a student at the University
of Alabama and then at the University of Tennessee, after which
he went to work in the field for many years before continuing his
education at VCU.
Now, as chief innovation officer for DuPont Teijin Films, Martin
oversees new product and market development for the U.S., and
his team recently was awarded the American Chemical Society
Team Innovation Award for its launch of the Mylar COOK
ovenable pouch. He is also the current president of the VCU
School of Engineering Alumni Board.
“My VCU education was top-notch and exposed me to a diverse
set of classmates, professors and research professionals,” Martin
says. “It also exposed me to cutting-edge research, laboratory facilities and technical writing. I’m very proud of my VCU experience.”
Josephine L. Hargis
1955 Bachelor of Science
School of Nursing
When Josephine L. Hargis was 8 years old, she created a scrapbook that documented her experiences serving and helping people
in need. More than 70 years later, she could fill volumes.
Throughout her life and career, Hargis has distinguished herself
as a scholar and as a tireless advocate for the betterment of nursing
and patient care. Her numerous degrees and 40-year career as a
nurse and director stand as an example established through
steadfastness and a deep sense of purpose.
Hargis attended Virginia Union University from 1949-1951.
She then completed a B.S. in Nursing degree from the St. Philip
School of Nursing at the Medical College of Virginia in 1955
and went on to earn an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling from
Hampton Institute, an M.S. in Adult Psychiatric Nursing from
the University of Maryland and two certificates in nursing administration from the American Nurses Association.
From 1954 to her retirement in 1994, Hargis’ career included
positions from staff nurse to instructor to supervisor. She
was the first African-American clinical nurse specialist at the
Virginia Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.
Her 20-plus years at Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Va.,
stand among her most notable accomplishments. There, as the
first minority director of nursing, she is credited with transforming patient care for geriatric and adult psychiatric patients from
a mode of containment to holistic care. According to her peers,
Hargis did so by spearheading a complete reorganization, improving hiring practices and providing ongoing staff education.
“My career in nursing grew over 40 years of diligent, dedicated
practice and advanced education,” she says. “I have consistently
shared my knowledge in the clinical area and in my community to
help others to improve their skills and/or their health in general.”
Committed to her profession, Hargis held memberships as well
as committee and board positions with numerous organizations
over the years, including as a board member for American Nurses
Association’s Virginia Nurses Association District 10, on the advisory council for American Journal of Nursing and on the board of
directors for American Cancer Society’s Williamsburg unit.
Hargis credits her mother with teaching her the importance
of serving others, an aunt who drew her into nursing and her
immense faith for inspiring her career. In her retirement, she continues to serve through volunteer work.
“My career in nursing
grew over 40 years
of diligent, dedicated
practice and advanced
Tonya S. Mallory
1988 Bachelor of Science • 1989 Master of Science
College of Humanities and Sciences
“The desire to be helpful
in the field of medicine
has been influential
on most of my life.”
Under Tonya S. Mallory’s entrepreneurial guidance, what
was once a small startup company with 11 employees in downtown Richmond, Va., has expanded to more than 750 employees
today and stands at the forefront of diagnostic care.
Mallory, a two-time Virginia Commonwealth University graduate, launched Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. in 2008, in the
Virginia BioTechnology Research Park. The disease-management company began serving patients in November 2009 and
provides diagnostic testing and services that help physicians
improve their patients’ treatment though a personalized health
plan. The company’s tests provide early detection of risk factors
in the areas of cardiovascular disease, heart failure, stroke, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease.
As an undergraduate in the VCU College of Humanities and
Sciences, Mallory fully intended to attend medical school after
graduating, but “made a decision to change that idea the spring
of my senior year,” she says.
Instead, she earned a master’s degree in forensic science in
1989. Mallory attended classes from noon to 10 p.m. (Financing
college herself, she worked from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.) She went on
to a career in diagnostic laboratory science that spanned more
than 20 years.
Before co-founding HDL and becoming its president and
CEO, Mallory worked for in vitro device manufacturer Wako
Diagnostics and gained extensive proficiency as a health care
regulatory consultant for domestic and international companies. It is through watching changes in the laboratory and the
general health care industry that she realized that good outcomes come from participatory, personalized and preventive
medicine. Her knowledge and experience translated into HDL
and cemented the company’s mission to provide early detection of
risk factors for various diseases.
“The desire to be helpful in the field of medicine has been influential on most of my life,” she says.
Mallory, the recipient of numerous accolades and awards —
including the Ernst & Young 2012 National Entrepreneur of the
Year — extends that help beyond the health care field and to her
alma mater. She has served on the boards of the School of Business
Foundation and the MCV Foundation. And in March 2013, HDL
agreed to a $4 million partnership to support the VCU Department
of Intercollegiate Athletics and its future capital projects, including
the HDL Inc. Athletic Village.
“The HDL and VCU partnership goes beyond just the funding of
a premier athletic facility,” Mallory says. “By the promotion of our
company within VCU, it is our hope that we keep math and science
jobs in Virginia — and hopefully here in Richmond at HDL.”
Jesse Vaughan
1980 Bachelor of Science
School of Mass Communications
Jesse Vaughan’s career as an award-winning director spans
back to his freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University,
when he landed a position as a part-time cameraman for a local
TV station. Under the mentorship of Ted White, professor in the
School of Mass Communications, Vaughan then directed a local
news production and his first TV show at the age of 19, before
launching a string of career accomplishments that culminated in
21 Emmy Awards stemming from 36 nominations.
“The School of Mass Communications instilled within me the
idea that knowledge can never be taken away from you and, with
that knowledge, you have the foundation to succeed,” he says.
Following his graduation from VCU in 1980 — and with nine
nationally syndicated educational documentaries under his belt —
NBC picked up on Vaughan in 1981. The network quickly signed
the director to a decade-long commitment to work on programs
including “The Jesse Jackson Show,” the “Today Show,” “Meet
the Press” and President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union
While directing NBC Sports’ coverage of the Summer Olympics
in Barcelona, Spain, and the IAAF World Championships in
Athletics in Tokyo, Vaughan collaborated with premier artists
including Elton John, Tina Turner, Will Smith, Anita Baker
and Rod Stewart. Following his tenure at NBC, he directed
season five of the sketch comedy series “In Living Color,” with
talents such as Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx, before shifting his
efforts toward the realm of music documentaries and videos.
Amid an eight-year stint as a freelancer, he directed videos
for MTV Networks, including groups and artists such as ’N Sync,
Eric Benet, Master P and SWV. In 2002, he directed his first
feature film, “Juwanna Mann,” for Warner Bros./Morgan Creek
Known as a passionate creator who possesses a strong work
ethic and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job
done right, Vaughan credits Martin Luther King Jr.’s “What is
Your Life’s Blueprint” speech and his mother, Rachel Vaughan,
who stressed the importance of higher education, for inspiring
his lifelong successes. He donated his time to film and direct
the VCU “Invest in Me” spot for his alma mater, winning a
regional Emmy Award in 2013 for his efforts. Vaughan is
currently directing the motion picture “The Last Punch,” a
film about Muhammad Ali’s last fight, and serves as special
assistant to the president of Virginia State University in
Petersburg, Va.
“The School of Mass
Communications instilled
within me the idea that
knowledge can never be
taken away from you
and, with that knowledge,
you have the foundation
to succeed.”
Alumni Stars Alumni Stars 1995-2001
Peggy C. Adams
Wyndham Blanton Jr., M.D.*
William C. Bosher Jr., Ed.D.
Sarah Cooke*
Altamont Dickerson Jr., D.Ed.
Paul A. Gross
John Hasty
Mattie S. Jones*
Fitzhugh Mayo, M.D.
French H. Moore Jr., D.D.S.
Tom Robbins
Dana Ward
George Woltz
Richard D. Barnes, D.D.S.
Maurice Beane
Don Beville
James W. Bynum, Ed.D.
Gary D.V. Hankins, M.D.
S. Chris Jones
J.C. McWilliams Jr.
Susan A. Minasian
James A. Rothrock
John Seibert
Beth A. Sharp, Ph.D.
Donald M. Stablein, Ph.D.
Denise Williams
Ronald C. Abernathy
D. Ware Branch, M.D.
Phyllis Cothran
Deborah D’Allesandro
Ginna Dalton
Kathy Kaplan, Ph.D.
Suzanne Laychock, Ph.D.
Elizabeth A. Mason
Michael McMunn, D.D.S.
Martha Moon, Ph.D.
Teresa Mullin
Kenneth F. Smith
Kathy Snowden
Virginia “Penny” H. Anderson
Charles Ben Bissell, Ph.D.
James N. Boyd
Anthony G. Cokes
John C. Doswell II, D.D.S.
James D. Fox
Woody B. Hanes
Richard W. Leatherman, Ph.D.
Diana J. McGinn, Ph.D.
Thomas L. Mountcastle
Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D.
Marie A. Smith, Pharm.D.
Keith N. Van Arsdalen, M.D.
Thomas W. Blekicki
Stephanie Ferguson, Ph.D.
Bill Gaines*
Fred Karnas, Ph.D.
Lynda Mandell, Ph.D.
Karl E. Peace, Ph.D.
Robert Rigsby
James Schroeder, D.D.S.
Jay T. Thompson III
Thelma Bland Watson, Ph.D.
Adyce Waymack*
Sandra Wiltshire
Anne C. Adams, D.D.S.
John O. Beckner
David Lee Cochran, Ph.D.
Regan L. Crump, Ph.D.
Robert J. Grey Jr.
Bruce E. Jarrell, M.D.
M. Kenneth Magill, Ph.D.
Catherine E. Nash*
Robert A. Pratt, Ph.D.
Joseph A. Runk*
David W. Singley Jr.
Roberta Williamson
Ralph L. Anderson, D.D.S.
Susan M. Carlton, Ph.D.
Melissa A. Davis
Carl F. Emswiller Jr.*
John J. Nagelhout, Ph.D.
Cathy N. Pond
Richard T. Robertson
Patricia A. Rowell, Ph.D.
Alice M. Schreiner
Thomas G. Snead Jr.
Jeffrey K. Taubenberger, M.D.
Susan M. Trulove
Sheryl D. Baldwin, Ph.D.
Edward B. Barber
Susan I. Brandt
Catherine S. Casey, M.D.
Eugenio A. Cefali, Ph.D.
Teresita Fernandez
R. Reese Harris
Richard C. Kraus*
Jeffrey Levin, D.D.S.
Carol A. McCoy
Marilyn B. Tavenner
Linda R. Watkins, Ph.D.
Elnora Allen
David Baldacci, J.D.
Gregory Enas, Ph.D.
Earl R. Fox, M.D.*
William M. Ginther
Victor Goines
Jane Moncure
Carmen Nazario
Rita Pickler, Ph.D.
Rebecca Parker Snead
William J. Viglione, D.D.S.
Jo Lynne DeMary, Ed.D.
Rex Ellis, Ph.D.
Milton Ende, M.D.*
and Norman Ende, M.D.
Cynthia Garris
L. Preston Hale
Daniel Jarboe, Ph.D.
Rodney J. Klima, D.D.S.
James Lester
Janice Meck
Susan Morales
Katharine Webb
Lou Oliver Brooks
Barry L. Carter, Pharm.D.
Claire Faith Collins
Jeremy Conway
Richard C. Davis Jr., M.D.
William D. Dietrich III, Ph.D.
Michael A. Evans
David Hunt
Michelle B. Mitchell
Dana Moriconi
A. Carole Pratt, D.D.S.
Joan F. Rexinger
Sydney Sherrod, Ph.D.
John D. Bower, M.D.
Sheila Crowley, Ph.D.
Bevill M. Dean
Nancy K. Durrett
Charlotte G. Fischer
Jay F. Fitzgerald
Russell W. Heath Jr.
James H. Revere Jr., D.D.S.
Sheri A. Reynolds
Mark A. Szalwinski
Tracey S. Welborn
Sandra P. Welch, Ph.D.
Alumni Stars 2003-2011
Christopher C. Colenda, M.D.
Donna M. Dalton
Edward L. Flippen, J.D.
Starrene Foster
Ray C. Goodwin
Daniel A. Herbert*
Kevin L. Holmes, Ph.D.
Brian K. Jackson
Robert B. Lantz*
Bennie L. Marshall, R.N., Ed.D.
James O. Munn
Christopher C. Thurston
and William H. Chapman
James D. Watkins, D.D.S.
Ira C. Colby, D.S.W.
Bradford A. Crosby
Nancy C. Everett
Judith W. Godwin
Stephanie L. Holt
Colleen K. Jackson-Cook, Ph.D.
Anita M. Josey-Herring, J.D.
Hugh D. Keogh
Thomas M. Krummel, M.D.
Margaret Gallagher Lewis
Bruce D. McWhinney, Pharm.D.
Rebecca Perdue
Leah T. Robinson, Ph.D.*
Roger E. Wood, D.D.S.
Golden H. Bethune-Hill
Mark A. Crabtree, D.D.S.
John Cragin
Donwan T. Harrell
Sheila Hill-Christian
Steven Offenbacher, Ph.D.
Mary Perkinson
Jonathan B. Perlin, Ph.D.
Mark Raper
Cathy Saunders
Tom Silvestri
Patricia W. Slattum,
Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Robert J. Wittman, Ph.D.
Patricia Wright, Ed.D.
Edmond F. Bowden, Ph.D.
Glenn A. Davis
Tara Donovan
Dale C. Kalkofen, Ed.D.
Panelpha “Penny” L. Kyler,
Sc.D., OTR/L
Debra E. Lyon, Ph.D.
Paul D. McWhinney
Jonathan C. Roberts
Jason T. Roe
Ronald L. Tankersley, D.D.S.
Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada, M.D.
As the official insurance provider of VCU Alumni,
Nationwide Insurance* is proud to sponsor
the 2013 Alumni Stars and congratulates
the award recipients.
Award design
The Alumni Stars program began in November 1989 and has
recognized 201 alumni since then. The glass star award was
created by the late Kent Ipsen, a professor of craft and material studies
in the School of the Arts. His daughter, Lisa French (B.S. ’94/H&S),
continues the tradition by creating these beautiful works of art.
To find out more about the partnership
between Nationwide and VCU Alumni
visit insurance4VCUalumni.com
Special thanks to our event sponsor
A VCU University Relations publication
an equal opportunity/affirmative action university
Cover details: Fireplace surround from the McAdams House (top)
and decorative grille from the Egyptian Building