You made it real.

One hand dips a brush into dark paint on a white tray; a corner of a painting is visible in the background

The Make It Real Campaign for VCU, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history, closed June 30. Because of your generosity, VCU brought in more than $841 million, shattering the university’s $750 million goal. Within that, VCUarts raised more than $21 million, making it the largest campaign for the school. We’re grateful to everyone that contributed, including alumni, long-time supporters, and a few artists who are new to Richmond.

Your contributions provided the resources to deliver on our commitment to provide a world-class education. The funds raised during this capital campaign will transform and enrich the lives of VCU’s students, alumni, faculty, university professionals, patients, caregivers and researchers for years to come.

Visit to learn more about the campaign and the impact your generosity has had on the university and beyond.

A family affair

By supporting the Make It Real campaign, Charles Harris (B.S. ’81/MC) is following in his parents’ footsteps. His father, Lou, was a long-time supporter of the sciences and the VCU Department of Pharmacology, while his mother, Ruth, focused her attention on the School of Education. Harris’ interests lie with the VCUarts Cinema Program. After graduating from the VCU School of Mass Communication, he earned a graduate degree in cinema and now runs a film production company in Richmond.

Harris initially focused on student scholarships. “It seemed like the most natural thing to do to support students,” he says. “The students are the most important product of the school. They are what give back to the community, and I wanted to give back to them.”

During the campaign, Harris also supported the cinema equipment fund and a professorship.

He’s excited to see his scholarship fund in action, particularly for students participating in the summer intensive when teams write, film, edit and produce a film.

“It’s such a dynamic and exciting part of the program,” he says. “I love watching them.”

The gift of music

Emerson (BME ’65) and Kathy (BME ’65) Hughes met as music education students in the VCUarts Department of Music. Emerson was an instrumentalist, Kathy a pianist.

While both had early careers in music education and performance, they later went on to establish the Holiday Barn pet resort in Richmond. But they never left behind their passion for music.

They established scholarships for the music education and opera programs—and supported the Music Accompanist Fund—knowing many students may follow a similar trajectory. Emerson says they want to help attract the best vocal students, but recognize that only a few will end up at the highest professional levels. They want to have an impact on students who choose to teach on the local level, or find other ways to remain active in Richmond’s music scene.

“We found that music on the local level has enormous power for goodwill in the community,” Emerson says. “It’s wonderful to be able to stand back and to see those we were able to work with have an impact on the community today.”

Elevating the next generation

“The most important human achievements to both Janet [Cooling] and I are artistic and musical,” says Jackie Corlin, about their decision to support VCUarts.

Cooling is a retired professor of art at San Diego State, and was included in the 1984 Venice Biennale. Corlin is a non-professional artist, musician and dancer with interests in jazz and hip-hop.

After Cooling’s retirement, the two moved back to the East Coast and settled in Richmond where they discovered the prominence and reputation of VCUarts.

The move felt fortuitous, as they were also looking for a way to use their legacy to elevate the next generation of artists and musicians.

“We wanted our legacy to go to education. The most powerful force in the world is education,” Cooling says. “We are most excited about supporting and encouraging painting students, jazz and hip-hop students, and original voices in the arts.”

Cooling also says she experienced discrimination as an artist, watching many of her male counterparts receive more attention and follow-through after participating in the same prestigious shows in which she appeared. As a result, Cooling and Corlin are particularly interested in supporting women and students of color.

“They are so underrepresented in every way, shape and form,” Corlin says. “We hope that VCUarts will continue to go forward and keep growing with women and people of color.”

Giving deserving students a boost

As one of the first graduates of the Interior Design program, Larry Horne (BFA ’69) credits his education with launching a 40-plus year career in the field.

“With great teachers like Robert Hester and Maurice Bonds, VCU inspired me to pursue my love of architecture, art and interior design,” Horne says. “My advisor, Theresa Pollak, encouraged me to see the world of possibilities working in design.”

He went on to start a successful interior design career in Washington, D.C., and traveled the world designing homes. He was once featured on the cover Architectural Digest. Horne is now retired in Asheville, North Carolina, with his partner Ron Phillips, who studied art education at William and Mary and worked at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The two want to ensure today’s students have the same opportunities they had when beginning their careers. During the Make It Real campaign, Horne and Phillips made a $4 million planned gift, including $2 million to Interior Design, $1 million to Art Education, and $1 million to the School of Medicine where Phillips’ father graduated.

“It is important to Ron and me that students in Art Education and Interior Design have encouragement and funds when there is a need,” Horne says. “I was the first in my family, from a small town in North Carolina, to attend college with the aid of scholarships. I know what it meant to me and Ron and I want deserving students at VCU to have the same boost.”