A. Marshall Acuff, Jr. ’62, L.H.D. ’07 has made a $5 million commitment to advance shellfish aquaculture research at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science and to help fund the expansion of the Alumni House.
Acuff’s investment in VIMS will help position Virginia as No. 1 worldwide in sustainable shellfish aquaculture. Shellfish science from VIMS underpins the commonwealth’s $32.3 million clam industry on the Eastern Shore and is driving the significant recent growth in the oyster industry.
“Marshall Acuff’s extremely generous gift will help VIMS cement its place at the forefront of marine research,” said President Taylor Reveley, “while also providing an elegant space for alumni to gather at William & Mary’s Alumni House. We are very grateful."
Most of the gift — more than $4 million — will establish an endowed professorship focusing on aquaculture research and also significantly bolster the Oyster Disease Research Fund. The fund was created in honor of Acuff’s father, who was an oyster grower on the Eastern Shore.
Additionally, the gift will allow VIMS to deploy students in rapid-response research for the local aquaculture industry and enhance the institute’s capacity to provide timely scientific advice to the community.
“Historically, VIMS is a hidden gem in terms of the resources it provides to the commonwealth,” Acuff said. “In addition to the advisory services it provides to the state, VIMS is doing real research that makes a difference to citizens of Virginia and the world.”
Senior officials at VIMS have said that in light of the Trump administration’s recent budget proposal — which, if enacted, could result in a reduction of VIMS’ external funding by approximately 25 percent — gifts like Acuff's come at a critical time.
The gift will also support the Alumni House Expansion Project, which will provide additional space for events, programming and staff.
“A larger space is clearly needed,” Acuff said. “We need to have a proper facility that can support a much larger crowd, particularly alumni whose numbers continue to grow. Having a proper gathering place that can accommodate alumni when they return to campus will be good for William & Mary, the Alumni Association and the university’s broader engagement efforts. We need a facility that will make alumni feel proud of visiting their alma mater.”
In recognition of his gift, the reception hall in the new wing will be named for the Acuff family. This space will be the new entrance to the Alumni House and serve as the welcome center for guests to the Alumni House.
“This generous gift provides necessary funding to expand meeting spaces, upgrade existing gathering areas and create much-needed space for large events,” said Cindy Satterwhite Jarboe '77, president of the William & Mary Alumni Association. “As a former president of the WMAA, Marshall understands the importance of our Alumni House as a gathering place and home on campus for our alumni to reconnect. This gift undoubtedly helps fulfill our goal of providing world-class alumni engagement.”
To date, $4.2 million has been raised to support the Alumni House expansion and renovation effort.
Acuff is currently the managing director at Silvercrest Asset Management LLC in Richmond, Virginia. He is chair of the VIMS campaign committee and has served on the William & Mary Business School Foundation, the William & Mary Foundation Board, the Board of Visitors as well as the Richmond regional campaign committee. Acuff was also Rector of the university from 1996 to 2000 and president of the WMAA from 1989 to 1991.
“Marshall’s leadership and his passion for VIMS make him the perfect chair for VIMS’ most ambitious fundraising campaign to date,” said VIMS Dean and Director John Wells. “He has made and continues to make important contributions to VIMS, and his leadership will be integral to the success of this campaign. It is not every day that a former rector agrees to come back to chair a school’s campaign, and I am grateful for Marshall’s confidence in the quality, importance and economic relevance of our work.”