The 14,000-square-foot research laboratory complex at the Rice Rivers Center will bolster river-related research and provide needed laboratory and office space.

VCU Rice Rivers Center completes fundraising campaign for new research laboratory complex

The 14,000-square-foot facility will bolster river-related research and provide needed laboratory and office space

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The VCU Rice Rivers Center has completed a fundraising campaign that will finance nearly all construction of a $7 million research facility meant to bolster river-related research and the training of environmental scientists.

The 14,000-square-foot facility will bring much-needed laboratory, office and meeting space to Rice Rivers Center, a nearly 500-acre research station on the James River in Charles City County. Scientists and researchers from VCU and collaborating institutions will have access to specialized equipment and work areas.

Fundraising efforts culminated with the completion of a million-dollar challenge grant from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation. Gifts and pledges to meet the match came from more than 200 individuals, corporations and foundations. The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation is a private entity founded in 1988 to support the capital needs of charitable organizations.

“Rice Rivers Center’s staff and stakeholders are grateful for the support of the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation as well as the generosity of so many others in the community,” said Greg Garman, Ph.D., director of the Rice Rivers Center. “These gifts will significantly expand the center’s mission locally and globally.”

The challenge grant represents the foundation’s efforts to support philanthropic purposes fundamental to community needs.

“The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation and our board has a deep respect for VCU, and we have a long history of supporting key VCU capital projects that have a lasting and positive impact on our community,” said Amy Nisenson, executive director of the foundation. “Our contributions have helped build facilities for the Massey Cancer Center, the Institute for Contemporary Art, and now, the Rice Rivers Center, whose new research complex will generate important research to inform environmental policy related to river ecosystems, their watersheds, and the species that inhabit them.”

Fundraising for the research facility, including the challenge grant, was part of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU, which has raised more than $630 million. VCU Life Sciences, of which Rice Rivers Center is part, has raised $10 million as part of the campaign, which also funded construction of the Inger Rice Lodge at the center last year.

VIA design architects has started the design and permitting process for the research facility, and construction is scheduled to begin by fall 2019.