An Enduring Connection
Fred Wayne (B.A. ‘70/H&S, M.S. ‘86/HP)
Every Tuesday, you’ll find Fred Wayne (B.A. ‘70/H&S, M.S. '86/HP) in the dean’s office making thank you calls to donors. Oftentimes, his calls go beyond a simple thank you, resulting in the exchange of a story about a beloved faculty member, a reconnection with a former colleague or talk of shared love for all things VCU. “I volunteer my time because I simply love VCU. I’ve been a student, an employee and a volunteer, and it’s hard to dismiss those links. It just feels like home,” said Fred. “My VCU years opened up opportunities that gave me a life that was rewarding. It enabled me to become a more fully actualized person.”
When Fred arrived to campus as a student in the late 1960s, the U.S. was undergoing great social change—the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and accompanying student protests. “People were becoming more vocal, more verbal. There was an expression ‘do your own thing.’ That was a radical idea.” Even at the time, Fred realized the significance of these movements as they were happening and it had an influence on his decision to earn a degree in history. He took courses from faculty favorites Bill Blake and Thelma Biddle in the department. “I took everything Bill ever taught—he is a remarkable lecturer. And I well remember Thelma Biddle standing at the top of the stairs of one of the Victorian houses on Franklin shouting, ‘As you sleep, your civil liberties are being taken!’ She was telling us to be alert. Pay attention to the world around you.” These unforgettable lessons and connections with faculty had a huge impact on Fred and he committed himself to becoming a true student of the liberal arts. “It was such a time of personal growth. Being a student in liberal arts helped me think critically and try to speak intelligently.”
“I volunteer my time because I simply love VCU. I’ve been a student, an employee, and a volunteer, and it’s hard to dismiss those links. It just feels like home.”
Following graduation, Fred began a position in social work and later returned to VCU for a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling, intending to pursue a career in the field. Though, once again, the gravitational pull of VCU and its mission proved stronger than his plans. Fred returned to VCU, this time in a volunteer role in VCU’s Media Relations office. He focused on writing projects for then university president Ed Ackell. His work in that role led to a full-time position, leadership of the 150th anniversary celebration of the university and ultimately as a special assistant to President Eugene Trani. From that point until his retirement in 2003, Fred had a hand in the largest academic and physical expansion of VCU in its history including a liaison role with VCU’s campus in Qatar and the Qatar Foundation.
Fred remains firmly committed to VCU even in retirement. Besides making thank you calls for the College, Fred has also become a donor with a planned gift. “I want to be part of the continuation of the humanities at VCU. I think the humanities civilize us. They help you to think critically,” said Fred. “To have graduates become thinkers, sharers, contributors—that is just the best gift.”
To make a planned gift to the College of Humanities and Sciences, please contact contact one of our gift officers.