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VCU News for 2021-22 – VCU News

The fall semester is in full swing and the VCU campus is livelier than it has been in quite some time. With over 5,700 students living on campus and roughly two-thirds of classes being entirely in person or with an in-person component, things may not return to their pre-pandemic state, but we are finding creative ways to come together. better.

When you return to campus (or keep an eye on things from afar if you're still working or studying from home), here are some new faces, programs, resources, buildings, and more to check out.

New Years, New Academic Programs to Explore

VCU is adding several new options to its more than 200 degree and certificate programs. Additionally, this fall, VCU launched 20 new fast-track opportunities that allow academically qualified students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years. The new programs for 2021-22 are:

Digital rendering of the interior of Ram City Market.

Have a bite somewhere new

New places to eat are always welcome. On the Monroe Park campus, two new restaurants are expected to open this academic year at University Student Commons: Steak 'n Shake and Za'atar. Steak 'n Shake is a classic American brand famous for its original Steakburger and hand-dipped shakes. Za’atar will feature Mediterranean cuisine flavored with spices from around the world.

Also slated to open in early spring Ram City Market, which will offer fresh produce, groceries, coffee to go, made-to-order sandwiches and more on-site at 912 W. Grace St. formerly occupied by a Walmart campus. Already open in the Engineering Research Building is Au Bon Pain Ram Bytes, a take-out version of the complete Au Bon Pain cafe on West Grace Street.

On the MCV campus, the Gateway building will add a Starbucks to its dining options next month.

Change the way you shop

If you stop at the Shift Retail Lab downtown da Vinci after opening in November, there is no way of knowing what it will find. And that is part of its beauty. The store is conceived as a multifunctional retail space where students and alumni of all disciplines can display their work to gain knowledge and test their products, services and ideas with real customers.

Located across the street from the Siegel Center at Grace and Broad Residence Center 2 at 1235 W. Broad St., the store's construction was made possible through a partnership with Hourigan Group. VCU Brandcenter students created the brand. This new showcase will allow entrepreneurial minded students to present their ideas and products to the public. And it provides the opportunity to buy innovative items that you won't find anywhere else.

Transforming the experience of living and learning

The first cohort of VCU Transform, a living learning program for college sophomores and higher, settled at West Grace Street Student Housing – North last month. Students live together, take classes that are part of a specialized curriculum, and participate in co-curricular activities.

Students in the program will develop as local, national, and global leaders through experiential learning in leadership studies, community engagement, and global competence, and will receive a Certificate of Completion in Leadership Studies and Experiential Learning. Applications for the 2022-23 cohort will open on October 11.

Inside the new engineering research building.

From scratch

If you haven't been on campus much in the last few months, or even a year, you may be realizing and you may be inquiring about some new buildings and construction in progress.

On the Monroe Park campus, the Engineering Research Building at the corner of Cary and Belvidere streets opened in February, but its spaces and labs are finally in full use this semester. The new facility connects the East Hall of the College of Engineering and the Snead Hall of the VCU Business School and features a Collaboration Center, an Innovation Yard, wet and dry research labs, a creation space and more, Not to mention a new place to get something to eat. eat. If you stroll down Franklin Street, you will see that much progress has been made in the new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building of the College of Humanities and Sciences, which replaced the old Franklin Street Gym. Once completed in spring 2023, the six-story building will house classrooms, labs, offices, a Math Exchange, computer labs, a Science Learning Center, and a common space where students from different disciplines can collaborate.

About a mile and a half away on the MCV campus, the 17 floors of the Adult Outpatient Pavilion soar into the sky and are nearing completion, expected in December. The pavilion will offer a wide range of outpatient services, as well as diagnostic tests, medical imaging, a pharmacy, an on-site laboratory, and parking, all in one building. VCU Massey Cancer Center will have its own lobby, elevator and entire floors dedicated to cancer services. The Richmond Children's Hospital is also being built in the VCU inpatient and emergency tower. The state-of-the-art facility for children is scheduled to open in spring 2023.

Further afield, the VCU Rice Rivers Center research facility will open next month, dramatically enhancing the ability of environmental researchers to conduct their work at the site. Adds 14,000 square feet of offices, collaboration / teaching spaces, and research labs for VCU students, faculty, staff, and non-contributors

New online tools for students (and their families)

Finding out finances as a college student can be challenging, but VCU Student Financial Services is committed to providing resources, both in person and online, to ease the way. They have introduced a number of new digital tools, such as a chatbot that will appear when you visit their website (as well as the Registrations and Registration website). This virtual assistant, appropriately named Rambot, scans sites on a daily basis and stores information that can answer user questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If Rambot doesn't know the answer, it redirects users to contact staff by phone or email.

 illustration of a calculator

Another useful tool is the new Net Price Calculator and Financial Aid Estimator. Provides prospective freshmen and their families with an early assessment of educational costs and financial aid opportunities. Whether you have questions about college funding or want help with financial planning, VCU's financial advisors can help. Current and prospective students can schedule individual virtual appointments with their financial advisors Monday through Friday. And if you are on campus and want to meet with staff in person, there is a new tool that makes it more convenient. Join the line and wait where you want with RamQ – you will be notified when it is your turn to come to Harris Hall and meet with a staff member.

We are moving! More… a merger

While units and offices change space quite regularly at VCU, here are two major moves you should be aware of that may have happened since the last time you were on campus . RamTech, VCU's computer and technology store, moved out of its home on Grace Street. It is now located within Barnes and Noble at 1111 W. Broad St. In the meantime, if you are looking to rent a free bike or get help with maintaining your own bike, you can now find RamBikes on the first floor of the Ackell Residence Center at 1106 W. Broad St.

And while it doesn't involve physical movement, there are changes underway for two VCU units vital to daily campus life: This summer, VCU's Center for Wellness and Health Promotion (The Well) and Recreational Sports completed an integration of a semester process to become a department that better serves the health and wellness needs of the VCU community. The new unit, RecWell, will continue to offer the same wide variety of programs and services that support student wellness, such as group exercise, outdoor adventure, intramural sports, personal training, water sports, health outreach, publication from the popular Stall Seat Journal and more.

Leading the way

Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D., became VCU Academic Director on August 1 when he began his role as Chancellor and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

 Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.
Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.

Prior to coming to VCU, Sotiropoulos served as Acting Chancellor and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stony Brook University, where he led the academic affairs response to COVID-19, helped lead the Stony Brook Strategic Budget Initiatives and restructured the Chancellor's Office to add Vice Chancellor positions focused on innovation and curriculum diversity, equity and inclusion. He also served as dean of the Stony Brook College of Engineering and Applied Sciences for the past five years. Sotiropoulos is recognized nationally and internationally for his contributions to research in computational fluid dynamics with applications in wind and tidal energy systems, river hydromechanics, cardiovascular fluid dynamics, and aquatic swimming. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

 Irene Herold, Ph.D
Irene Herold, Ph.D

VCU Libraries also welcomed a new leader on August 1. Irene Herold, Ph.D., who was previously the college librarian at the College of Wooster, is now dean of VCU Libraries and university librarian. Herold led all three Wooster libraries and was instrumental in modernizing library spaces for student success, as well as focusing on staff development through cultural competency work and program participation. immersion and digital scholarship initiatives. She is the author of two books, "Leading Together: Academic Library Consortia and Advocacy" and "Creating Leaders: An Examination of Academic and Research Library Leadership Institutes," as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters.

Tackling health inequities head-on

Fresh off the press, VCU Health Sciences established a new Office of Health Equity this month. This office serves as a hub for connecting talent and expertise in college and the health system with that of community organizations. This work aims to develop and build partnerships focused on addressing inequalities and disparities in health.

Areas of focus include educational programs such as History and Health; increase the quantity and quality of research on equity in health; and expanding university and health system initiatives to address the social determinants of health that impact the communities we serve. Other examples of the work of this office include addressing the equitable distribution of vaccines and responding to inequalities and the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on minority and older populations.

 A sign describing the mask requirements within the Cabell library.
A sign describing the mask requirements within the Cabell library. (File Photo)

Not technically new but…

We would be remiss if we did not remind the VCU community to pay attention to communications that detail the university's response to the pandemic over the next school year. If there's one thing we've learned, it's that change is the only constant when it comes to COVID-19. Students, faculty, and staff receive frequent emails from with updates and details about changes to the VCU guidelines, precautions, and rules. Those communications are posted on along with detailed information, resources, and frequently asked questions. Staying current is part of being responsible together, as we all strive to keep VCU as safe and healthy as possible.