Meet our donors

Our Donors - Virginia Commonwealth University*

Marilyn Biggerstaff, D.S.W.

Marilyn Biggerstaff, D.S.W., began working at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1977. She retired as a professor in 2005, after 28 years in the School of Social Work. Before coming to VCU, she earned her M.S.W. at the University of Kansas and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California.

Biggerstaff has given to the VCU School of Social Work regularly for the past 30 years, and in 2019, established a scholarship fund in the school. The Dr. Marilyn A. Biggerstaff Fund for Doctoral Student Research supports work in the School of Social Work that strives to make a difference in the lives of individuals experiencing poverty.

"There is a whole range of issues impacting people who experience poverty, and studying that should be prioritized," Biggerstaff says. "It’s a vitally important area that funding doesn’t always gravitate toward."

Biggerstaff saw a need from doctoral students, who were incurring significant expenses when they reached the dissertation level of their graduate education. Funds supporting this level of education are few, and many students struggle to work full time while they complete their studies. When she was considering a planned gift, Biggerstaff knew she wanted to grow the scholarship fund so it could continue to help doctoral students.

"When I was getting my degrees, I received federal funding for research in social work," Biggerstaff says. "That has really been retracted in recent years, and today’s graduates end up with tremendous amounts of debt."

Biggerstaff hopes to increase opportunities for students to earn doctoral degrees in social work. By making the dissertation process accessible to more researchers, her scholarship fund will help students in the VCU School of Social Work shape the future.

"I have seen VCU grow so much and develop into a renowned research university," Biggerstaff says. "I would certainly like to see that continue."

Virginia Commonwealth University* Donor Marilyn Biggerstaff, D.S.W.