Celebrating National Philanthropy Day

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In his classic work “Prometheus Bound,” the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus describes his title character as philanthropos tropos, or “humanity loving,” because he gave early humans the gifts of knowledge and hope to save them from destruction.

Centuries later, we still call those who give selflessly to others “philanthropists.” And on National Philanthropy Day, which is Nov. 15, we honor their wisdom, generosity and commitment to creating a better and more equitable world.

Virginia Commonwealth University is better because so many people invest in our mission. More than ever, individuals, corporations, foundations and friends are giving to VCU because they know we are helping change the world. And because they know that philanthropic gifts to VCU really are investments in the future of humanity. Innovations from our laboratories advance human productivity. Creations from our studios stir human emotions. Breakthroughs from our clinics save human lives. Knowledge gained in our classrooms and communities unlocks human potential.

None of this is possible, of course, without the support of thousands of philanthropists whose generosity funds student scholarships and faculty endowments, helps build the facilities in which our people work and learn, supports our patients in need of hope, and inspires others to join them in their wisdom and determination to help us change the world.

I am proud that we recently completed the second-largest fundraising year in our university’s long history. But I am even more proud of the people behind these gifts, and I thank them on National Philanthropy Day and always.

Among those we honor are two of VCU’s own, who I was privileged to help recognize in Central Virginia’s National Philanthropy Day celebration earlier this week. Dr. W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., a 1970 alumnus of our School of Dentistry, was named Volunteer of the Year. A former rector of our Board of Visitors, Baxter has been a leadership donor to VCU for many years, and the Dentistry building is named in his honor.

The Family of Charles and True Luck were honored as Philanthropist of the Year. The Luck Family has generously supported VCU Massey Cancer Center, the VCU Rice Rivers Center, and are leadership donors for the VCU Institute of Contemporary Art.

On National Philanthropy Day — and always — I am grateful to the philanthropists whose investments in VCU make it real and are changing our university to help us change the world.