rolfe awards

Alexis Crawford, Pharm.D. (left), and Chanda Ambrose received the inaugural Rolfe Awards to honor outstanding faculty and staff at the VCU School of Pharmacy. Photo: Penelope M. Carrington, MCV Foundation

Inaugural Rolfe Awards Celebrate Pharmacy Trailblazer

Bertha Rolfe will always be remembered as one of the most notable graduates and the first woman to serve on the VCU School of Pharmacy’s faculty.

“I think she blazed the trail for women to realize this was a great profession to go into,” recalled her daughter, Robin Partin. “She always believed in education, and she always knew that women were as capable as men.”

bertha rolfe
Bertha Rolfe, R.Ph. (left) inspired an effort led by her friend Kathy Bobbitt, Ed.D., to create and name faculty and staff awards in her honor at the VCU School of Pharmacy. Photo: Eric M. Peters, MCV Foundation

A 1947 alumna, Rolfe became one of very few women pharmacists practicing in Richmond. Two years later, she joined the school’s faculty and was a lab instructor and mentor to generations of future pharmacists. She also served on the MCV Foundation board for 18 years and was active in the MCV Alumni Association.

“Bertha’s teaching career at the school spanned 30 years, and she continued to give back beyond that time through service on various alumni boards and councils,” said K.C. Ogbonna, Pharm.D., dean of the VCU School of Pharmacy. “She leaves behind a wonderful legacy of service, mentorship and work ethic.”

Following Rolfe’s death at 96 in March 2022, her friend Kathy Bobbitt, Ed.D., a VCU School of Nursing alumna, led an effort to honor her legacy with a teaching award at the school. The initiative inspired more than 40 gifts from family, former colleagues, students and friends.

Bertha’s legacy is one that I hope will continue to inspire generations of faculty and staff at the School of Pharmacy.

Kathy Bobbitt, Ed.D., VCU School of Nursing alumna

After soaring past its original goal, the effort’s leaders began discussing the idea of creating two awards to recognize both an outstanding faculty and staff member each year. Rolfe’s family noted how appropriate the second award would be as she always championed the work of staff and their role in keeping the university running.

The School of Pharmacy awarded the inaugural Rolfe Awards during its fall convocation last August. Alexis Crawford, Pharm.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, received the Rolfe Teacher of the Year Award. The school also honored Chanda Ambrose, executive administrative assistant and office manager in the department, with the Rolfe Outstanding Staff Award.

Award recipients are selected by peer faculty and students who review nominations received for the honor. Both awards come with a $1,000 honorarium and a reminder of the inspirational life and career of Rolfe.

“Bertha’s legacy is one that I hope will continue to inspire generations of faculty and staff at the School of Pharmacy,” Dr. Bobbitt said. “Not only did she leave an impact on the pharmacy profession in Virginia, but her devotion to the school and to her students as they practiced their profession are worth celebrating and aspiring to each day.”

If you would like to support the Rolfe Awards at the VCU School of Pharmacy, please contact Louie Correa, the school’s senior director of development, at 804-828-3016 or