University seeks nominations for annual PACME awards

Barbara Payton speaking at a lectern with three people on stage.
Barbara Payton, director of development for major gifts in the School of Dentistry, was among the PACME recipients in 2019. (Photo by Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

Virginia Commonwealth University will recognize individuals and groups who have made exemplary contributions to promoting civility, building community, establishing cross-cultural initiatives, advocating equity and nurturing a welcoming and inclusive environment at the annual Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment. Nominations can be submitted through March 6. This year will mark the 26th PACME class.

“Virginia Commonwealth University proudly champions diversity and inclusion as a core value, and engages in initiatives that create and nurture a dynamic and inclusive learning environment in which individuals of differing cultural backgrounds, identities, abilities and life experiences are embraced, engaged and empowered to drive excellence and success,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.

Four awards are given:

  •  Academic and Administrative Leadership Award (includes administrators, directors and university organizations)
  •  Faculty Award (includes teaching, research and adjunct faculty)
  •  Staff Award (includes classified, hourly and part-time staff, and university and academic professionals)
  •  Student Award (includes graduate and undergraduate students, post-docs and student organizations)

Nominations should be submitted electronically. Instructions can be found at

Each winner will receive $500. In addition, one of the four recipients will receive the capstone award – The Riese-Melton. This special award is given for contributions made in advancing cross-cultural relations. The awardee will receive an additional $250 gift.

The Riese-Melton award is named for two pathfinders in VCU’s history who dared to reach across the racial divide during less enlightened times. Walter J. Riese, M.D., served as professor of neurology and psychiatry at the medical center. During his tenure, he championed the rights of African American employees during a time when it was unpopular to take a stand. One of those employees was Herman Melton, who worked at the medical center for more than 50 years.  

The 2020 PACME Celebration will be held at 3 p.m. on April 28 in the Commonwealth Ballroom at the University Student Commons. A list of past award winners is available online.

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