After 48 years, legendary educator Grace Harris retires

February 4, 2016

Grace E. Harris, Ph.D., one of the most highly regarded women in higher education, has retired as a distinguished professor of public policy at the leadership institute that bears her name. Since the formation of the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute, Harris has served as a mentor to countless alumni and colleagues.

“Dr. Harris leaves an impressive legacy that reflects her commitment to education and to serving the community," said Niraj Verma, Ph.D., dean of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, which houses the institute at Virginia Commonwealth University. “It has been an honor to work with such a dedicated educator whose remarkable career is a source of inspiration.”

Harris’ retirement was effective Dec. 25, bringing to an end a noteworthy career at VCU that spanned 48 years and included service as the dean of the VCU School of Social Work, as provost and as acting president. Her tenure was punctuated by a series of historic firsts — most notably a 1993 promotion to the position of provost and vice president of academic affairs, an appointment that made Harris the first African-American woman to serve as the chief academic officer of a four-year public university in Virginia.

In 1999, the VCU Board of Visitors established the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute in recognition of Harris’ extraordinary dedication to affecting positive change within the university and beyond. The institute promotes the development of emerging leaders in academic institutions, other public, private and nonprofit organizations, and communities. Until recently, Harris had served as a consultant and contributing lecturer to the institute.

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'Black Excellence at VCU' student video goes viral

February 18, 2016

Freshmen Johnathan Brooks and twin brothers Terrence and Terry Everett have made headlines in recent weeks with a series of videos titled “#BlackExcellence at VCU,” which have received more than 21 million views.

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First all-black comic book added to VCU Libraries’ Comic Arts Collection

February 4, 2016

VCU Libraries has acquired an extremely rare copy of All-Negro Comics No. 1, the first comic book written and drawn solely by African-American writers and artists.

“It’s one of the holy grails of comics,” said Cindy Jackson, library specialist for comic arts, who oversees VCU Libraries’ Comic Arts Collection, which has roughly 175,000 items, including more than 125,000 comic books. “It is so important to the history of comics. I’ve been in this job for 20 years and I never thought I’d ever hold one of these in my hands. And now we have one in the collection for researchers to use.”

All-Negro Comics No. 1 is a 48-page anthology comic published in June 1947 and remembered not only for being the first comic by African-American creators, but also for its positive portrayal of African-American characters — such as detective Ace Harlem and Lion Man, a college-educated, scientist superhero — in an era in which most African-American comic book characters were racist caricatures.

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VCU recognized for reducing the graduation gaps

December 2, 2015

The Education Trust, a national nonprofit advocacy organization focused on educational justice, especially for students of color and low-income students, released a report today examining six-year graduation rates over the last decade. This report identifies universities that have reduced the graduation gaps between underrepresented minority students and their white peers.


Read more from VCU President Micheal Rao's blog.

Journey to Cultural Competence

January 5, 2016

The Division for Inclusive Excellence, Diversity Education and Retention Initiatives presents workshops and sessions throughout 2016 designed to increase our cultural awareness, challenge biases, and enhance understanding.  Sessions include:

Microaggressions in the Workplace and Classroom: Exploring the Impact of Everyday Slights and Insults:  Session participants will increase their awareness of, and knowledge about, microaggressions and their impact. Participants will also explore ways to address microaggressions in their everyday lives.

Unconscious Bias:  Session participants will explore the impact of, and negative effects of, biases in the workplace.  Participants will utilize the Implicit Association Test to probe their unconscious bias and develop awareness of implicit preferences and stereotypes

Inclusive Excellence:  Making It Real:  Participants in this session will gain a better understanding the concept of Inclusive Excellence and review the value and benefits of a diverse working and learning environment.  Participants will also be made aware of resources and opportunities at VCU to increase awareness, knowledge and skills about self and others.  

To register for any of the above noted sessions go to: and search by sponsor:  Diversity Education and Retention.

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