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Novelist David Baldacci and wife, Michelle, give $1.1M to VCU for scholarships, experiential learning

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From left: David Baldacci; Michelle Baldacci; Montse Fuentes, Ph.D., dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences; and VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.

Bestselling novelist and Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus David Baldacci and his wife, Michelle, are making a $1.1 million gift to VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences that will establish a scholarship for political science students and will create a fund to provide students with a variety of experiential learning opportunities.

“Our continuing partnership with VCU is incredibly meaningful to us both,” said David Baldacci. “The endowed fund and endowed scholarship will provide direct support to any university’s most important asset: its students. We look forward to helping VCU students in achieving their full potential as students and in their endeavors after graduation.”

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., said the Baldaccis’ gift is an invaluable contribution in support of VCU students’ education.

I look forward to watching our students learn, discover and flourish as a result of the Baldaccis’ endowed scholarship and fund.

“Michelle and David’s support of the College of Humanities and Sciences beautifully illustrates their belief that our students are committed to contributing to the common good now and in the future,” Rao said. “Along with my colleagues, I look forward to watching our students learn, discover and flourish as a result of the Baldaccis’ endowed scholarship and fund.” 

David Baldacci, who received a bachelor’s degree in political science from VCU in 1983 and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1986, has published 34 novels for adults, all of which have been national and international bestsellers, and several of which have been adapted for film and television. His novels are published in more than 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with more than 130 million worldwide sales. He has also published six novels for younger readers.

As part of the Baldaccis’ gift, $1 million will create the Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund, which will grant academically promising and hardworking students of diverse areas of study and backgrounds with financial support so they can pursue internships, conferences, research, domestic or study abroad, and social entrepreneurship opportunities.

Awards from the Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund will begin in fall 2018 and will be available to applicants who are rising juniors or rising seniors, in good academic standing, and pursuing a degree in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

“The generosity of the Baldacci family brings to the College of Humanities and Sciences the largest gift VCU has received to promote experiential learning,” said Montse Fuentes, Ph.D., dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. “Anchoring the liberal arts mission of the College of Humanities and Sciences, this gift will offer our students opportunities for world-learning experiences.”

“The Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund will allow us to introduce learning through reflection and doing, while also promoting an entrepreneurial spirit to create the tools and means to bring positive sustainable results to our community and society,” she added.

Also as part of the gift, $100,000 will establish the Baldacci Political Science Endowed Scholarship that will provide financial support to an undergraduate student majoring in political science. To qualify, students must be rising juniors or rising seniors, and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The scholarship will be awarded to ambitious students who are engaged as a volunteer in the community and/or working part-time or full-time while attending VCU. The scholarship will launch in fall 2018.

“The faculty, students and alumni of the political science department could not be more honored to receive this incredible gift from the Baldaccis,” said Deirdre Condit, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science. “This scholarship will allow the political science department to recognize future outstanding students who, like David Baldacci, himself a VCU political science alumnus, want to complete their degree but who face enormous challenges, including the cost of their education.”

“In the years to come, the Baldacci Scholarship will allow us to provide critically needed financial support to some of our extraordinary working students who demonstrate a commitment to serving their community — who have shown their eagerness to pay it both backward and forward, as this incredible donor has done today, with this generous and thoughtful gift,” she said.

The Baldacci Political Science Endowed Scholarship is the first for the Department of Political Science and is one of the largest in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

“Hardworking students in the department will now have opportunities to seek financial support while they study and apply that transferable knowledge in their community through volunteerism or work,” Fuentes said.

“It is our vision to offer a transformational education to the distinctive student population we have in the College of Humanities of Sciences and these gifts will allow us to make that a reality,” Fuentes added. “We are most grateful for David’s and Michelle’s support and fortunate to call them our friends.”

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 225 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Seventy-nine of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The VCU Health brand represents the health sciences schools of VCU, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.