SOM Students

Addressing Equity through Planned Giving

A. Randolph “Randy” Garnett Jr., M.D., left the MCV Campus in 1989 after 14 years as a medical student, resident, fellow and assistant professor of medicine. He returned to his hometown of Norfolk along with two MCV Campus cardiac surgery colleagues — Drs. Glenn Barnhart and Szabolcs Szentpetery — to practice in a cardiac and pulmonary transplant program in the area.

Thirty years later, having retired in 2020, Dr. Garnett began thinking of ways to give back to the institution that was an important part of his professional and personal life.

As he began to consider his options, it became clear he wanted to help the next generation of physicians through a scholarship.

“Educational opportunities change people’s lives, and if you find the right person and help them obtain an education, it is a positive for everyone,” he said recently. “In these times, it was obvious that diversity was of upmost importance.”

With that being the premise, he decided to make the MCV Foundation the primary beneficiary of some of his retirement vehicles.

The beauty of using a 403(b) or similar account to educate young people or provide other support is that when it’s donated, the entire amount in a given account goes to the charity. That is not the case when a family member is the beneficiary, as that family member must pay substantial income tax.

The process of naming a beneficiary is another appealing aspect of this popular form of giving. An estate attorney isn’t needed, and account holders simply go to their retirement account vendors and fill out a form that names the MCV Foundation as the primary beneficiary.

“So, retirement vehicles like 401(k)s and 403(b)s are one of the most rational ways to give, help people and effect change,” Dr. Garnett said.

The Impact

Donors have an incredible number of great causes from which to choose when giving in support of the MCV Campus. They can support research funds that impact how health care is practiced around the world. They can support patient care programs that help clinicians save and improve lives right here in Central Virginia. Or they can support students, whose potential to impact communities and populations for generations is limitless.

Dr. Garnett chose the students.

For many years before making his charitable beneficiary designation, Dr. Garnett had been aware of his long Virginia family history. He decided that establishing a scholarship that might benefit medical students from disadvantaged communities would be an appropriate way to effect change while supporting the goals of the School of Medicine.

As a result, Dr. Garnett has been working with the school to use his beneficiary designation to fund full tuition for at least one student annually.

Scholarship assistance is a key consideration for applicants deciding which medical school to attend. Top applicants who are underrepresented in medicine choose to study at schools that offer competitive scholarship packages. While the VCU School of Medicine has substantially grown its scholarship resources over the past five years, its scholarship awards remain substantially less than those of peer institutions.

In partnership with donors like Dr. Garnett, the school continues to build its scholarship resources. This includes the school making a $1 million commitment to support the work of building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable community. This commitment has enabled the school to establish the Dean’s Equity Scholarship, addressing one of the most significant barriers to access for students of all backgrounds, cultures and socioeconomic statuses — the ability to afford a medical education.

Training physicians who reflect the diverse populations they serve is essential to the school’s mission to improve the quality of health care for all people. This can be accomplished through initiatives like the Dean’s Equity Scholarship because increased physician diversity is often associated with greater access to care.

For more information about the Dean’s Equity Scholarship, please contact Niles Eggleston, assistant vice president for development at VCU Health and the School of Medicine, at 804-828-2112 or For more information about charitable beneficiary designations or any other planned gift to the MCV Campus, contact Ann Deppman, director of gift planning at the MCV Foundation.