MeadWestvaco makes transformative gift to VCU Athletics

RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 25, 2013) -- Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has received the largest gift in its history.

As part of its sustained commitment to a thriving downtown Richmond, MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV), a global leader in packaging and packaging solutions, has pledged $3 million to be paid over 10 years to support the new VCU Basketball Complex project. This new facility will enhance VCU's stature as an athletic powerhouse and economic engine for downtown Richmond.  Part of the university's master site plan, the complex is slated to be built adjacent to the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

"Great research universities have strong partnerships with great corporations," said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. "Virginia Commonwealth University is proud to count MWV among our strongest partners.

"For many years, they have invested in education and research initiatives at VCU, and their latest gift to athletics will further enhance our university's ability to compete on the national stage," Rao said. "Athletics is an important window into VCU for so many people, and MeadWestvaco's latest gift is a game-changer for our athletics program."

The basketball practice facility will provide a greatly enhanced atmosphere for student-athletes and coaches. This new venue will give student-athletes an advantage in their skill development and game preparation. The cutting-edge sports medicine and athletic training area will allow all of VCU's student-athletes access to state-of-the-art treatments and equipment.

"This generous leadership gift provides another example of MWV's continued commitment to VCU," said VCU Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin. "We cannot thank the leadership at MWV enough for seeing the benefit of the sustained success of our basketball programs for the whole university. We look forward to working with them on several community initiatives as the partnership grows."

This gift is the latest instance of MWV's generosity to VCU. Through corporate and foundation gifts, MWV has partnered on numerous occasions with the Schools of Business, Engineering, Government and Public Affairs and Pharmacy, as well as the Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences and the da Vinci Center for Innovation.

"VCU is a vital and vibrant part of our Richmond community," said John A. Luke Jr., chairman and chief executive officer, MWV, who was appointed to the VCU Board of Visitors in 2012. "The success of VCU's basketball team has attracted national attention and raised the university's profile on the court and in the classroom.   MWV is proud to support the continued growth of this world-class university in our community."

The new facility will allow VCU Athletics to centralize nearly all of its basketball activities - strength training, academic advising, video study, individual skill development, team meals and practice - under one roof. Additionally, the practice facility will allow student-athletes 24-hour access to improve themselves on the court.

"Our program is extremely thankful for this tremendous gift," said VCU's head men's basketball coach Shaka Smart. "The new practice facility will mean a great deal to our team. Not only will it enhance the student-athlete experience and provide a competitive advantage, it will also be critical to our ongoing efforts to attract high level student-athletes to VCU.  We are very appreciative of MWV and the partnership we share."

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