Accomplishments 2015-16

Dr. Rao Presidential Forum

Last academic year was an important time for VCU in advancing its conversations and work on diversity, equity and inclusion. There is considerable work underway across the university to support our building the inclusive, open and welcoming community to which we aspire. Among highlights from 2015-16 are: 

Our commitment and priority

  • VCU engaged in a series of intentional and focused conversations on issues of diversity and inclusion, including the Presidential Forum and a series of “café” discussions with faculty, staff and students.
  • Campus community engagement is being used to inform the university’s ongoing work, as well as the development of VCU’s new Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, which will be completed by the end of 2016.
  • Community engagement and cultural vitality were among only a handful of key priorities in the Quest for Distinction Strategic Plan updated in July 2016.

New resources across units, across campus

Units across the university enhanced efforts to strengthen recruitment and retention of a talented and diverse faculty and our capacity to support classroom discussions relevant to issues of diversity and inclusion. These activities included:

  • Made available online training resources from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (see link on provost’s professional learning and development resources page).
  • Provided Title IX, unconscious bias, crucial conversation and conflict management workshops for department chairs and other university leaders.
  • Continued implementation of the Recruitment Inclusive Champions program, a nine-month, educational program focused on diverse recruitment efforts among the faculty. Health Sciences Human Resources has also initiated an RIC for HS.
  • Provided the Institute on Inclusive Teaching, a weeklong institute providing faculty “opportunities, strategies and techniques for addressing the inclusiveness of their courses, curricula, programs and services.”
  • Established Crossroads, small group faculty discussions to engage around issues in diversity and inclusive teaching in health sciences.
  • Co-sponsored the second annual symposium on diversity and inclusion in hiring and professional development with the Greater Richmond Society of Human Resource Management.
  • Enhanced diversity and inclusion education in human resources sessions and exercises for new faculty, staff, department chairs and VCU Health System House staff orientations.

Student-focused initiatives

Initiatives to further promote, support and enhance student experiences include:

  • Offering UNIV 291: Learning in Safe Space, a for-credit seminar on issues of inclusion and diversity.
  • William King, university ombudsperson, expanding his role to serve students by offering mediation and conflict resolution services.
  • Pursuing and receiving two Department of Education grants to support student success:
    • The Student Support Services grant will support more than 200 first- generation students and students with financial need to successfully complete college (Division for Health Sciences Diversity and Division for Strategic Enrollment Management).
    • The Education Opportunity Grant (Division for Health Sciences Diversity) will assist adults in returning to college for workforce skills training and enhancement.
  • Opening Lavender House and Mosaic living-learning communities in fall 2016.
  • Continuing robust programming and discussions through the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, including its Courageous conversations, a monthly forum offering structured discussions on race, ethnicity and diversity.
  • Implementing the Student Council for Inclusive Excellence Ambassador Program, including the creation of the SCIE Ambassador Strategic Brief to enhance diversity, and the creation of the SCIE Ambassador website.
  • Conducting the HumanCare cocurricular program for health sciences students and pre-health students to educate them on how microaggressions, socioeconomic issues, gender identity and religious beliefs might affect patients’ health.
  • VCU student-athletes have been deeply involved in the It’s On Us campaign, which seeks to eliminate sexual assault on college campuses.
  • Offering a one-credit module to student-athletes during the fall semester that focused on diversity and inclusion. In addition, VCU Athletics celebrated LBGT History month through a series of “pride games.”

Policies to support our values

Strengthening our institutional policy and capacity to become more inclusive and to respond to and prevent issues of non-equity and non-compliance: 

  • Cornel West, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and Christian practice, Union Theological Seminary
  • Fred Bonner, Ph.D., professor and endowed chair in educational leadership and counseling at Prairie View A&M University and author of “Building on Resilience: Models and Frameworks of Black Male Success Across the P-20 Pipeline”
  • Opal Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter
  • Jennifer Manion, Ph.D., director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, Connecticut College
  • Velma Skantlebury, M.D., the nation’s first black female transplant surgeon
  • Bree Newsome, activist, filmmaker and writer; Chief Alfred Durham, Richmond Police Department; Adria Scharf, Richmond Peace Education Center; Angelique Scott, student, VCU; and Shawn Utsey, Ph.D., VCU, were featured panelists at the Black Lives Matter Symposium at VCU
  • Kimberly N. Brown, Ph.D., VCU; Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr., Ph.D., Washington University; Darnell L. Moore, activist and scholar, Columbia University; and Ravi K. Perry, Ph.D., VCU, were panelists for Black Queer Imaginings: A Dialogue on Masculinities, Movements and Mattering
  • Joshua Aronson, Ph.D., associate professor of applied psychology, New York University, presented on Stereotype Threat

Diversity and Inclusion Priorities, Plans and Highlights for 2016-17

  • The Council for Inclusive Excellence and Equity has completed the first draft of VCU’s new Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. The plan will undergo review by key stakeholder groups as well as the broader university community during fall 2016.
  • Findings from the University Climate Survey (conducted spring 2016) will be presented this fall and will be used to inform our review of strategic priorities.
  • Recognition of the 40th anniversary of the founding of VCU’s first gay student group, including a visit by Billie Jean King on Oct. 27.
  • iCubed (the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation) has identified five core areas for transdisciplinary collaborations addressing challenges that impact urban areas. The university will launch searches for up to 18 faculty members across these transdisciplinary clusters, or cores.
  • Implementing the Building Inclusive Communities program, a train-the-trainer model building our internal capacity to offer cultural competence education for members of the VCU community.
  • Events commemorating 2016 Black History Month included the 14th Annual Black History Month Lecture: They Shoot Black People, Don't They? From Ferguson to NYC, featuring political cartoonist Keith Knight.  the event focused on Police Violence in the United States.
  • Planning for VCU’s 2017 MLK Week of Celebration is well underway and will include a visit by Marc Lamont Hill, a distinguished professor of African American studies at Morehouse College.
  • The Division of Academic Affairs is creating a universitywide faculty mentoring support program, building partnerships and networks with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to support faculty recruitment, and developing online search committee training, which will be mandatory by fall 2017.
  • EAS is developing a centralized approach to campus accessibility aligned with university master planning, with an ADA Master Plan RFP to be released later this year.
  • The VCU/VCU Health - Health Equity Task Force has been launched to finalize a Health Equity Strategic Plan that articulates the commitment to systematically address social determinants of health in its education, research, clinical care and engagement work.
  • The Division for Inclusive Excellence is working to support the coordination of information and services across a range of VCU units, offering programs, education and other services relevant to diversity, inclusion, equity and access. Please access the expanded calendar