Telling Stories: One Room at a Time

The Virginia G. Carson, Ph.D. Group Study Room

The Virginia G. Carson, Ph.D. Group Study Room was named in December 2016 by Dr. Richard Pitts '70 and his wife Colleen Pitts, who wanted to honor the mentorship that Dr. Carson has provided for countless other Chapman University students over the years. Many of Dr. Carson's students have ended up in the scientific and medical fields as a result of her mentorship, which Dr. Pitts was able to witness when he was a frequent guest lecturer in her forensic science and neuroanatomy classes in the early 1980s. Located on the first floor of the Leatherby Libraries in Room 110, the Virginia G. Carson, Ph.D. Group Study Room celebrates the mentorship of Dr. Carson to Chapman University students throughout the years.Dr. Carson joined the Chapman faculty in 1971, teaching biology, forensics, comparative physiology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, and pharmacology and physiology of chemical dependency in the Schmid College of Science and Technology. Since her retirement in 2016 after 45 years of service and teaching at the university, she has continued to serve as Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences, and remains active in the faculty emeritus group.In addition to her years of service as a professor, Dr. Carson also manages the Virginia G. Carson, Ph.D. Endowed Scholarship Award, which provides travel grants to students attending scientific meetings.

The profound effect that Dr. Carson's support has had on decades of Chapman University students can best be understood by reading the list, engraved on a glass plaque in the Study Room, of "Chapman University Science Students Mentored by Dr. Virginia Carson Earning Advanced Science Degrees." This list, which is updated regularly, shows over 200 names of students who, after working with Dr. Carson at Chapman, went on to earn M.D.'s, Ph.D.'s, D.D.S.'s, and more.
In addition to the plaque of names, the Virginia G. Carson, Ph.D. Group Study Room contains photos and memorabilia of Dr. Carson's, including her 1998 Chapman University Meritorious Leadership Award, a certificate of her election as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a 2003 Certificate of Recognition from the Congress of the United States honoring her "Outstanding support of character education for the youth of Orange County." A framed collage of photographs of Dr. Carson also includes a detailed list of her career highlights.
The focal point of the room is a framed photograph of Dr. Carson. Over the photo, lettering spells out for students one of Dr. Carson's most inspiring messages: "When selecting your career, choose what you enjoy doing. In that way you will be sure to succeed. For you will work with enthusiasm." It's very clear, from the names on the wall to the dedication of the room by Dr. Pitts, that Dr. Carson has thoroughly succeeded in her own career, teaching and mentoring students with an abundance of enthusiasm.

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