ůůֱ University (ůůֱ) and Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) hosted a community celebration at Hilton Norfolk The Main on June 7 to commemorate the integration of EVMS into ůůֱ. The celebration is a direct result of a community-inspired and collaboratively led journey to provide increased levels of support and visibility to EVMS and followed a more than two-year extensive planning process that involved hundreds of people from both campuses, as well as key partners, including the Commonwealth of Virginia and Sentara Health.

The integration, effective on July 1, 2024, establishes the Commonwealth of Virginia’s most complex and largest academic health sciences center with 56 academic programs, some of which are unique programs not offered elsewhere in the state. This effort was made possible due to the leadership of Governor Glenn Youngkin and support of the General Assembly, including The Honorable L. Louise Lucas, who serves as the President Pro Tempore of the Senate of Virginia, and The Honorable Barry D. Knight, who serves as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Both Senator Lucas and Delegate Knight served as chief co-patrons of the enabling legislation for the authorization and structure of the ůůֱ-EVMS integration.

During the event, state leaders shared their excitement and support for this transformational initiative.

  • Governor Glenn Youngkin – “Over 50 years ago, EVMS was founded by local leaders in one of the few grassroots created medical schools in the nation. As one of the few independent medical schools remaining in the nation, EVMS will significantly enhance regional health outcomes through its merger with ůůֱ. This significant merger in the Hampton Roads community will help tackle the pressing shortages of nurses and doctors. It will also boost our medical programs, attract top talent, and ultimately provide better healthcare services and outcomes to our entire Commonwealth. Together, we are committed to a healthier future for all. Welcome to the new era of excellence in healthcare and education. Let’s get to work making Virginia the best and healthiest place to live, work, and raise a family.”
  • Speaker Don Scott – “The research that ůůֱ can bring and leverage with EVMS is going to be huge and make us a leader not only in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but in the world. I'm excited to be a part of it and have had a hand in making it happen. And, I'm excited about what we're going to be able to do here in Hampton Roads with EVMS and ůůֱ leading the way and saving lives.”
  • Chairman Luke E. Torian – “This merger is an indication of the vision at ůůֱ to not be stagnant or comfortable, but always operating with a vision and wanting to grow Norfolk, Hampton Roads, and the Commonwealth. This merger in so many ways will help a lot of communities.”
  • Senator L. Louise Lucas – “As a resident of Portsmouth, I am so delighted to see this day come for our region and our people. The integration of EVMS into ůůֱ has been a labor of love for so many and something that I have personally championed with care and commitment, as well as passion and pride. The stark truth is that people in our local communities are dying due to a lack of accessible and available healthcare. With the increased financial investment from the Commonwealth to make this integration a reality, I am confident that more people will get the care that they need and deserve. Without question, today represents a bold step forward for our region and our state.”
  • Delegate Barry D. Knight – “This is going to be good not only for the state, but more especially for our area. We're going to graduate doctors, and we're going to retain these doctors. I can envision five or 10 years from now some earth-shattering medical advances that are going to come out of this. I can just see it happening, and we're all going to make strides together.”

The ůůֱ-EVMS integration also received high praise from members of Virginia’s federal delegation.

  • Senator Mark R. Warner – “I am thrilled to mark the integration of ůůֱ and EVMS. As the largest academic health sciences center in the Commonwealth, ůůֱ and EVMS will provide greater opportunities for students, faculty, and staff while better serving the Hampton Roads community. This merger will catapult education, research, healthcare training, and patient care access throughout the region.”
  • Senator Tim Kaine – “I’m so pleased that historic institutions like EVMS and ůůֱ have come together to offer stronger educational programs to enhance care across the Commonwealth. The exciting collaboration between these two institutions will help us build a stronger, more robust healthcare workforce in Virginia, and I look forward to seeing the new opportunities it will create. Congratulations on your success in bringing these institutions together and thanks for all your valuable work to make this possible.”
  • Congressman Bobby Scott – “Both institutions have provided critical education and workforce development opportunities to Hampton Roads for decades. In this new chapter, ůůֱ and EVMS will build on the success of both institutions and enhance educational research initiatives for Virginia, address workforce gaps, and help combat health disparities facing our community and the entire Commonwealth. Thank you again to everyone who made this integration possible, especially President Hemphill and President Abuhamad for their tireless work and close collaboration. I cannot wait to see all the great work that is going to take place in the years ahead.”
  • Congresswoman Jen Kiggans – “This day has been a long time coming. The next generation of healthcare providers and their patients will benefit from the hard work you have put into establishing the largest academic health sciences center in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This project will be a shining example of collaboration, and I am eager to see the high quality of students you will train and the paths they will take in their provider journeys.”

A powerful partnership with Sentara Health is a cornerstone of the ůůֱ-EVMS integration with a long-term commitment to provide approximately $350 million in dedicated funding over the next decade. President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Matheis stated, “Sentara is committed to healthcare education and training and looks forward to what this merger will bring, particularly since this integrated health sciences center will offer the largest portfolio of health sciences degrees in the Commonwealth training the next generation of clinical talent.”

In front of an audience of nearly 1,000 guests from both campuses and the broader community, a historic announcement was made regarding a generous $20 million gift from Dennis and Jan Ellmer to provide scholarships for students pursuing health sciences degrees at ůůֱ. Students will be eligible for the scholarships if they are enrolled in the EVMS School of Health Professions, the Joint School of Public Health, the ůůֱ College of Health Sciences, or the ůůֱ School of Nursing. With this gift, the Ellmers are proudly paving the way for the next generation of health sciences professionals. A defining characteristic of the Ellmers’ generous contribution is the significant level of support per student through an annual award of $12,000, with $6,000 in the fall and $6,000 in the spring. The awards through the Dennis & Jan Ellmer Health Scholars Program and the Dennis & Jan Ellmer Nursing Scholars Program represent a unique mix of both need- and merit-based criteria. Within a decade of operation, the Dennis & Jan Ellmer Health Scholars Program alone will provide a total of $3.3 million in direct support of 275 total scholarship awards in both new and renewable formats. 

Additionally, the Ellmers’ commitment to Hampton Roads is evident by a requirement for scholarship recipients to remain in the region or state following graduation. In recognition of their leadership in creating opportunities for current and future Monarchs, the University announced the naming of the Ellmer College of Health Sciences and the Ellmer School of Nursing, thereby forever etching the distinguished Ellmer family name as part of the University’s legacy and its promise for this integration.

A feature of this widely attended event was the unveiling of the name and brand of the Commonwealth’s newest academic health sciences center. In recognition of a $20 million gift from Joan Brock, the integrated center will be named Macon & Joan Brock Virginia Health Sciences at ůůֱ University. This entity will serve as the overarching structure for all health sciences programming and operations, including the Ellmer College of Health Sciences, the Ellmer School of Nursing, the EVMS Medical Group, the EVMS School of Health Professions, the EVMS School of Medicine, and the Joint School of Public Health. This naming is a reflection of Joan’s unwavering dedication to creating opportunities across the region. 

Her generous gift to establish and fund the Brock Opportunity Scholarship in the EVMS School of Medicine supports promising students with financial need who live in Virginia, are interested in caring for underserved populations, and plan to practice in Hampton Roads or Virginia upon completion of their residency or fellowship. Joan is also providing support to furthering the arts through the Barry Art Museum expansion project. 

During the event, the visual identity for Macon & Joan Brock Virginia Health Sciences at ůůֱ University was revealed with great fanfare, supported by the ůůֱ Pep Band and Big Blue, donning his first white coat. The logo featuring ůůֱ’s iconic crown, symbolizing a tradition of excellence, seamlessly integrates the Rod of Asclepius, the Greek symbol of medicine and healing. The snake faces east, signifying Eastern Virginia as a preeminent destination for health education, clinical research, and healthcare delivery.

Board of Visitors representatives from both EVMS and ůůֱ shared their support for this groundbreaking partnership. EVMS Rector Bruce D. Waldholtz, MD, said, “As a physician, educator and member of the EVMS and Hampton Roads communities, I am excited that we have come together today to celebrate this momentous event in our shared story — at the heart of that story is people. These connections exist all around our community, because ůůֱ and EVMS have long been part of the same story — a story of a healthier Hampton Roads.”

ůůֱ Vice Rector P. Murry Pitts ’80 added, “This event and the integration are a reflection of the caring and innovative spirit of our institutions, coupled with a shared commitment to continued advancement and increased impact across education, research, and clinical care. For the ůůֱ Board of Visitors, this integration was a no-brainer due to a bold vision and thoughtful plan as a critical linkage to a brighter future and a better region.”

During the community celebration, EVMS President, Provost, and Dean Alfred Abuhamad, MD, highlighted the institution’s rich history, community focus and lasting impact by saying, “EVMS was founded in 1973 by the community for the community. Over the course of the last academic year, we have celebrated this half-century milestone and reflected on what our history means and how it shapes our future. The impact we’ve had on the lives of students, faculty, patients, and the people of Hampton Roads is a credit to many of you in this room today and to the visionaries who came before us. Serving as president of this institution has been a great joy and a privilege. It is an honor and a responsibility I have taken seriously because I understand how much EVMS means to our students, alumni, donors and the community. I am so proud to be part of this moment of transition and transformation. This integration and our new academic health sciences center represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth to build something new and historic for the benefit of our children and grandchildren alongside our partners at ůůֱ.”

ůůֱ President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., said, “Today’s event celebrates a long journey, symbolizes a new beginning, and serves as a preview to our promising future, which is a shared future that would not be possible without individuals who made this their passion and purpose for decades. Hampton Roads has waited for this moment. Our citizens deserve this moment. Our people are worthy of this opportunity.”

In closing, President Hemphill said, “To all those who are here today, we make a pledge. We pledge to fully uphold the overarching vision of this worthwhile effort. We pledge to thoughtfully execute the bold plan that we created. Lastly, we pledge to maintain a sharp focus on education, research, and clinical care!”