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VCU Rice Center Receives Gift from MWV Foundation to Support Environmental Research

Sathya Achia Abraham
VCU Communications and Public Relations

Virginia Commonwealth University has received a $1 million gift from the MeadWestvaco Foundation to develop a laboratory space at the VCU Rice Center dedicated to understanding the science of rivers and the environment.

The donation will help a new laboratory, which will be housed within the newly planned 10,000-square-foot research building at the Rice Center. The new laboratory will also be named for MWV.

Through the new research building, scientists will work with partnering agencies and researchers to study a broad range of water resources issues, including water pollution monitoring and remediation, nutrient and carbon cycles important to the study of climate change, microbial processes and the impacts of sea level rise on rivers and the communities that economically depend on them. The laboratory will offer emerging technologies and sophisticated analytical instruments to conduct this work.

The MeadWestvaco Foundation partners with both national and local organizations in MWV communities. And through the foundation’s purposeful involvement since 2003, these programs have benefited from more than $36 million in strategic grants. In addition, employees have given more than 572,000 hours to more than 3,000 programs.

“This generous gift will help the Rice Center in its continuing mission to further knowledge of the importance of water resources to our society and environment,” said Leonard Smock, Ph.D., director of the VCU Rice Center.

According to Smock, the laboratory will enhance ongoing VCU studies, allow institute researchers to pursue new grants and contracts and open new avenues for collaborative studies with agency and industry personnel.

“Overall, the laboratory will provide a service that will improve environmental quality throughout the region and beyond,” he said.

“The MeadWestvaco Foundation is pleased to support the VCU Rice Center and construction of its new environmental analysis lab,” said Linda V. Schreiner, MWV senior vice president.

“Education, environmental stewardship and sustainability are long-standing MWV core values. With a view of the beautiful James River from our world headquarters in downtown Richmond, we are reminded every day of how essential healthy rivers and robust water resources are not only to MWV’s business, but also to our communities. We hope today’s gift will inspire others to follow suit and help in continuing the important work being done by the VCU Rice Center,” she said.

The new research building is the central focus of Rice Center’s newly launched $10,000,000 capital campaign. The campaign will fund this research building along with an overnight facility to accommodate 25-30 visiting researchers and students. In addition the campaign will provide resources for research equipment and graduate student scholarships.

In 2009, the Walter L. Rice Education building at the Rice Center became the first building in Virginia to be awarded the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED platinum certification, the highest sustainability rating possible. VCU plans for the new research building to be built at the platinum level LEED certification level at a minimum, but expects to reach a Net Zero Energy level, continuing the example of excellence in environmental sustainability.

The Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences is devoted to a broad array of environmental research, teaching and public service. Located on nearly 500 acres along the historic James River, midway between Richmond and Williamsburg, the Rice Center is rich in natural and cultural resources that provide VCU researchers and scientists from other institutions and agencies a unique location to advance the science essential to developing a sustainable balance between the natural environment and human activity.

For more information on the many ways in which the MeadWestvaco Foundation gives back, please visit

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