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Alumna's gift moves VCU Libraries much closer to meeting $1 million matching grant

December 19, 2016

Thanks to a generous pledge from an alumna, VCU Libraries is more than three-quarters of the way in an 18-months-long effort to qualify for a $1 million challenge grant from The Cabell Foundation.

In December, Stephanie Lawson Holt (B.S. ‘74/Ed) included a six-figure planned gift in her estate plan to benefit three of her passions: the libraries, the arts and education. Her pledge will be split proportionally among VCU Libraries, the School of Education and the Institute for Contemporary Art at the Markel Center.

“This incredibly generous gift also comes at a pivotal time for us,” says University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider. “This pledge moves us much closer to meeting the challenge of a $1 million matching grant from The Cabell Foundation. Thanks to Stephanie’s far-reaching vision for students, the VCU Libraries now has a final goal of raising $250,000 by June 30, 2017. She has set an inspiring example for everyone who understands the central role of libraries in academic life.”

As of the end of January, VCU Libraries' development office reported raising $760,00 toward the match.

Stephanie Holt timed her gift purposefully. As the president of the board of the Friends of VCU Libraries, she says she felt the call to lead by example. The Cabell challenge inspired her to dig deep, she said, and to arrange a planned gift. “I hope some of my friends and other board members will be similarly moved to make significant gifts to help us meet this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to double our gifts’ value to VCU Libraries.”

In December 2015, The Cabell Foundation awarded the challenge grant to assist VCU Libraries in fully outfitting and equipping the new James Branch Cabell Library, as well as provide funding for future needs. The grant challenged VCU Libraries to raise $1 million in new gifts and pledges by June 30, 2017. When VCU Libraries reaches that goal, the foundation will commit $1 million, bringing the total raised to $2 million for the new library.

Half of the funds raised will support the New Building Fund, which will outfit and equip the new library with the kind of furnishings and equipment not provided by state funds, and will help VCU realize the full promise of this extraordinary new space for students. The other half of the funds will create a permanent Library of the Future Fund, an endowment earmarked to continually update technology in the building and to replace worn, broken and outdated furniture.

The challenge is designed to spur additional philanthropy to support the library. “We need help from the entire VCU community and RVA community to meet this generous challenge grant,” said University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider. “Academic libraries everywhere are in an exciting period of transformation, and no library better illustrates those changes than Cabell Library. We meet users’ needs 24 hours a day. Use of our building and our collections is up. Digital and print collections are growing.”

To learn how you can help meet this challenge, through a pledge, gift or stock or planned gift, contact Kelly J. Gotschalk (B.F.A.’90/A; M.A.’97/A), director of development and major gifts, at 804-827-1163 or

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