Few couples have been as integral to Washington University in St. Louis as Gerry and Bob Virgil. For more than 30 years they have represented the qualities of service and giving exemplified by the Ethic of Service Award, both together and individually. In honor of their years of service and in recognition of Bob’s leadership as chair of the university’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, the award was named the Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award.
The Virgils’ connection with Washington University began when Bob started his graduate work at the John M. Olin School of Business in 1958. He earned master’s and D.B.A. degrees in business administration, and later joined the faculty as professor of accounting. After serving briefly as vice chancellor for student affairs, Bob was named dean of the business school. He led the school from 1977 to 1993 through a period of growth and development. During his tenure the school dramatically increased its endowment, attracted a larger and more talented pool of applicants, and became known as a national leader in business education. In 1992, Bob was named executive vice chancellor for university relations. Bob left in 1993 to embark on a second career as a general partner of Edward Jones, but he has remained a strong leader and committed supporter of Washington University.
Working with Bob, all along the way, has been his wife, Gerry. Her work across campus, building relationships with alumni and faculty, and in the community has created lasting connections. Gerry is a member of the Philanthropic Education Organization, an active supporter of the Kirkwood Meals on Wheels program and the Glendale Presbyterian Church. Bob has been involved in a number of St. Louis organizations, including the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the Magic House, City Academy, Harris Stowe State College, and a citizens’ task force on the Metropolitan Sewer District. Through their work together, the Virgils have exemplified an ethic of service.
And Washington University and the Virgils’ many colleagues and friends have recognized the couple’s involvement. A trustee of the university and president of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society, Bob has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Olin School of Business and the William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s highest award, “The Search.” Bob and Gerry received the Dean’s Medal from the Olin School of Business, and upon Bob’s retirement from the university in 1993, alumni and friends endowed a scholarship in the couple’s name. In 2004, friends and colleagues of Gerry and Bob endowed a professorship at the Olin School of Business in their names.