Dabney and Joseph Cortina

Dabney and Joseph Cortina

Dabney (B.S.’75) and Joseph (B.F.A.’76) Cortina hit it off instantly when a friend introduced them at Virginia Commonwealth University almost 50 years ago. They’ve been married for more than 40 of those years.
“VCU has always played an important role in our lives, from our education to our romance,” Dabney says.

Dabney graduated with a degree in advertising from the School of Mass Communications, now the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, and Joseph graduated from the School of the Arts with a degree in painting and printmaking.

In 2018, they created the Dabney and Joseph Cortina Endowed Scholarship, the first co-scholarship of the Robertson School and School of the Arts. Rising juniors or seniors pursuing a degree in either school with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and demonstrated need are eligible, and preference is given to students who identify as first-generation college students.

“I hope it helps someone who might be struggling financially to follow their passion,” Dabney said. “Maybe this eases the burden a little and allows them to move forward.”

Several years after college, the Cortinas started their own production company. Its clients have included the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the College Football Hall of Fame and seven presidential libraries.

Over the years, the couple have encountered many VCU graduates working in media; those connections helped spur their interest in giving back. Joseph emphasizes the importance of giving to the university to help students learn new technologies in the industry.

The company has had to adapt in recent years, Joseph says, learning to merge art, media and technology — all skills that students need as they develop their careers. “Every day I rely on something I learned at VCU,” Joseph says. “Through this scholarship, I hope to give someone else that extraordinary opportunity.”


In odd-numbered years, the scholarship is awarded to arts students. In even-numbered years, the scholarship is awarded to mass communications students.