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Cabiniss Hall Naming Ceremony

Oct. 9, 2013
Sadie Heath Cabaniss Hall, Richmond, Va.

Thank you for that wonderful introduction, Jean. And thank you for truly helping advance VCU and our School of Nursing on the national stage. You’re a visionary leader for our very bright future.

I also want to thank my partner Sheldon Retchin, who’s helping shape VCU’s reputation in Richmond and beyond. We are a unique research university — one that’s focused on human health — and that’s because we have Sheldon as a partner.

You know, this has been a really historically important year for VCU. We’re celebrating the 175th anniversary of our founding, celebrating our roots in medical education and research. From Day 1, our focus has always been about people: helping people live better, healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Our success in doing this, or anything else, occurs only because of the success of our people. Throughout our history, few people have embraced our commitment to help, heal and empower their fellow human beings more than Sadie Heath Cabaniss.

She was, of course, the founding director of what would become VCU’s School of Nursing. I imagine that she had big expectations and even bigger dreams. But I am sure she would be amazed at all we have accomplished because of the success of our people.

By the way, Sadie’s first graduating class had eight nurses. We now have more than 10,000 living alumni! And we all know the many national rankings of the School of Nursing. We’re in the top 10 percent nationally among nursing graduate programs, according to U.S. News and World Report. We’re in the top 25 nationally in terms of NIH funding for research. Our School of Nursing is a critically important part of a nationally premier urban, public research university.

These are all important rankings, and we’re justifiably proud of how the nation views us.

But what really matters most are the things that we cannot measure. The number of lives our nurses have saved and improved. The number of compassionate cures we have delivered. The number of innovations we have fostered.

The greatest mark we can make as nurses, and as a university, is helping people succeed. That certainly includes our students, faculty, staff and alumni in the School of Nursing and across VCU, who will impact their communities in profound ways through their commitments to helping other human beings.

It’s so fitting, then, to honor one of the first champions of this idea at VCU, and someone who personified this commitment so well — Sadie Heath Cabaniss. In doing so, we remember and proudly recognize her contributions by naming the School of Nursing building in her memory.

But the greatest honor we can give her is focusing on the future and continuing her legacy of helping other people for the next 175 years, through research that improves people’s lives quickly, teaching that empowers students to be leaders in their discipline and in their community, service that improves and enlivens every corner of Richmond, and through an unyielding commitment to human health.

I’m so glad that I can count on you to join in this mission, not just in nursing but every field. Thank you for helping us celebrate the wonderful legacy of Sadie Heath Cabaniss by continuing to advance VCU as a research university dedicated to the success of people.