Sharon and Baxter Phillips
Even as technology continues to help people connect from a distance, Sharon and Baxter (B.S.’75; M.B.A.’76) Phillips would like to see Virginia Commonwealth University students pursue opportunities for hands-on, international experiences.
“The world feels like it’s getting smaller and smaller,” Sharon said. “It’s now easier than ever to make connections with people from all over the world. You don’t have to physically be in a place to network or do business, but actually being there can make a big difference.”
Baxter Phillips is the former CEO of Massey Energy and a member of the School of Business Foundation board. He and Sharon developed an appreciation for study-abroad programs after participating as undergraduate students at Ferrum College in southwest Virginia.
Now the couple is devoted to helping the VCU School of Business enrich its study-abroad programs. Both have served as mentors in the school’s six-week International Consulting Program, during which students and mentors work — stateside and abroad — on consulting projects with international businesses.
“The program gives students an inside look at how businesses from other parts of the world operate,” Sharon said. “It helps them enlarge their view of the world and the people in it.”
In 2018, the couple pledged $1 million through their estate to endow the Sharon L. and Baxter F. Phillips Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund in the VCU School of Business. They intend to begin funding the endowment during their lifetime so that they are able to enjoy seeing the benefits of their gifts.
“It’s important to us that we do what we can to help those who might not be able to afford such experiences otherwise,” Sharon said. “We want students to get everything they can get out of their time at VCU. We’re very fortunate to be able to help them do that.”