A new, endowed scholarship at the VCU School of Business for students majoring in Management and Entrepreneurship, gets its name and its inspiration from one of the school’s biggest fans and a leader in Virginia’s transportation construction industry.
The Phillip P. Tarsovich Scholarship Fund got its start in February 2019, when the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance board of directors first considered what it might do to recognize their former board president for his decades of inspired service. Their thoughts quickly turned to Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Phil’s not just a successful VCU Business grad, he’s also a huge VCU basketball fan. He’s got season tickets, mid-court. His office has a big picture of the Seigel Center,” says Jeff Southard, executive director of VTCA “He’s very proud of his affiliation with VCU and the School of Business.”
The Phillip P. Tarsovich Scholarship will provide support for scholastically outstanding undergraduate students in Management and Entrepreneurship at the School of Business. The Fund is intended to honor and recognize students who exhibit the qualities of Phil Tarsovich: leadership, dedication, professionalism, community service, and strong business acumen.
The amount awarded to the scholarship recipient(s) will be at least $5,000. Recipients must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5. Eligible students can be considered to receive scholarship aid for up to four semesters, but must re-enter the scholarship application process each year.
After sitting down with VCU School of Business Dean Grier and Chief Development Office Shannon Duvall, Southard and other VTCA members identified two objectives for the scholarship in Phil’s name.
“First, we wanted this to go to ‘the best of the best.’ That’s what Phil represents,” says Southard. “So our agreement makes it clear that this scholarship must be awarded every year to someone who exemplifies all the characteristics we love and respect about Phil. This is a man who has been a leader his entire professional life.”
The second objective was that the scholarship be one with permanence. “We decided that, if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right. We set out to raise $130,000 so that we might create an endowed $5,000 scholarship that can be presented every year, in perpetuity.”
Raising funds in Phil Tarsovich’s name turned out to be remarkably easy. VTCA represents more than 300 companies and tens of thousands of employees. According to Southard, the vast majority of them know and admire Tarsovich.
“Phil started his career with Slurry Pavers. He started as a flagman when he was still a student at VCU. Today he is president and part owner the company, and he’s managed it well, enabling it to grow into one of the largest and most respected of its kind.”
Indeed, under Tarsovich’s leadership, Slurry Pavers has seen remarkable growth. When he first started with the company, it had one office and 36 people. Today it boasts more than 800 employees, three offices, six emulsion plants, one asphalt terminal and four transport terminals. In short, Slurry pavers is among the largest leaders of the “Pavement Preservation” industries.
“He’s one of the finest and smartest business people I’ve ever met,” says Southard. “He’s tremendously business savvy and bold. We all respect that. When we started raising funds for his scholarship, so many people saw this as a great way to recognize a true titan in our industry.”
After the scholarship was finalized, it was time to notify Tarsovich. “It was overwhelming to have that scholarship created and funded in my name,” recalls Tarsovich. “They are incredible friends and I’m so grateful for this community of support.”
“The scholarship should be in VTCA’s name” he insists. “They are obviously an incredible group, both the management there and all the industry members. To have such overwhelming support from so many friends in our industries is just unbelievable. I sincerely am blessed to have the support from this amazing community.”
Then, ever the strategist, he adds, “Hopefully all the wonderful students who benefit from this will know what an incredible industry provided them this opportunity so they will have an interest in working in it!”
Tarsovich hopes recipients ultimately will remain connected to and be lifetime supporters of VCU. “The VCU School of Business was an excellent source of education for me. It provided the knowledge I needed to be successful. I am so happy that this scholarship will help a large number of great students going to VCU Business School. I sincerely wish all of them well and success.”
Editor’s note: Phillip Paul “Phil” Tarsovich, a highly regarded Virginia business leader and VCU School of Business alumnus, died Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Tarsovich’s death was announced in an obituary published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article about a scholarship created in Tarsovich’s name originally published on VCU School of Business News on May 8, 2019.