The Jenas give to honor VCU’s impact on their family

Tripti Jena, M.D., and Purusottam “Puru” Jena, Ph.D., credit much of their family’s well-being to the careers and community they found when they joined Virginia Commonwealth University in 1980.
puru and tripti jena on a sunny oceanfront

“We moved here from Chicago when our son was 2 years old,” says Tripti, who joined the faculty of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the VCU School of Medicine that year and worked there until her retirement in 2014. “VCU was a big part of our family life.”

When the couple accepted positions at VCU, each joined a small department where they developed close relationships with their colleagues. Puru, a distinguished professor and 40-year faculty member in the College of Humanities and Sciences Department of Physics, describes their relationships with their colleagues as supportive and close-knit and says that those relationships were critical to the fulfillment they found in their VCU careers.

“Our colleagues were so welcoming,” Puru says. “It was almost familial with an atmosphere of freedom, collegiality and openness.”

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The Jenas have expanded their service to the university in recent years as donors. In 2020, the couple established two endowments in the School of Medicine: the Dr. Tripti B. Jena, M.D. Lectureship, which honors Tripti’s career by funding an annual speaker to focus on diversity, excellence and inclusive practice in the physical medicine and rehabilitation field; and the Dr. Smriti Bardhan Award of Excellence in Genetics Research, which memorializes Tripti’s sister, who died in 2017, by supporting professional development opportunities for doctoral students with demonstrated excellence in genetics research in the health sciences.

The couple hopes to continue their giving to VCU in gratitude for the impact the university has had on their personal and professional lives.

“Whatever we’ve achieved in our lives is because of VCU,” Puru says. “If we had not been able to start our careers and lives here together, our family’s achievements might not have materialized. We owe more to VCU than we could ever give.”

The Black & Gold & You campaign encourages giving of any amount to any fund at VCU or VCU Health. You can also participate by making a gift to the Invest in Me campaign or to a fund in the campus area of your choice.