Venuti promoted to associate vice president for public safety for VCU and VCU Health

Headshot of John Venuti

John Venuti

Virginia Commonwealth University Police Chief John Venuti has been promoted to associate vice president for public safety for VCU and VCU Health.

In his new position, Venuti will provide institutional public safety oversight and strategy for VCU and VCU Health. He also will advise the university and health system leadership and partner with the local community on a wide variety of institutional safety, policy and compliance matters, as well as emergency response and planning.

“Under John’s leadership, VCU Police has become known for its responsiveness and strong community partnerships,” said Meredith Weiss, Ph.D., vice president for administration for VCU. “He transformed VCU Police into a national leader in campus safety.”

In Venuti’s nearly nine years as chief, the VCU Police Department has prioritized partnership, collaboration, customer service and engagement. Since 2010, VCU Police achieved accreditation with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, became the first campus law enforcement agency in Virginia to receive designation as a certified crime prevention campus, was the first in Virginia to implement the “You Have Options” sexual assault survivor program designed to increase reporting of sexual assault, and became the first agency in the Richmond metropolitan area to implement body worn cameras for officers. These and other efforts have resulted in an improved safety culture with more than 95 percent of students, faculty and staff reporting they feel safe or very safe on VCU’s campus and a decrease in officer use of force of more than 66 percent.

Venuti will continue to serve as VCU’s police chief until the position is filled. VCU is conducting a national search to fill the position.

Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU unveils fall 2018 exhibitions including projects by Rashid Johnson, Abbas Akhavan, David Hartt, Jonathas de Andrade, Julianne Swartz and Pascale Marthine Tayou

A man clutches a fish close to his chest.

A video and photo series “O peixe” by Jonathas de Andrade.

This fall, the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University will present two exhibitions featuring leading international contemporary artists, including a major site-specific commission and artist-led performances. Opening simultaneously on Oct. 17, “Provocations: Rashid Johnson”and“Hedges, Edges, Dirt” both explore socially and culturally specific issues in nuanced, conceptual and poetic ways. Through these initiatives, the ICA will continue to present exhibitions that engage audiences with dynamic programming on themes of social relevance and local resonance.

“Building from our inaugural exhibition, ‘Declaration,’ we have continued to ask what the ICA can contribute to our place and time,” said Stephanie Smith, ICA chief curator. “These new projects by an extraordinary group of artists will activate the Markel Center in fresh and beautiful ways and catalyze conversations that reach beyond our walls.”

Read more.

Draft of VCU’s new master plan focuses on unifying campuses, advancing interdisciplinary work

The draft master plan provides the VCU community with a first look at how the Monroe Park and MCV campuses will evolve over the next 12-15 years.

Virginia Commonwealth University officials unveiled a draft of the university’s “ONE VCU” master plan this week at open house events on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses.

The draft, available on the master plan website, provides the VCU community with a first look at how the campuses will evolve over the next 12-15 years, said Jeff Eastman, university planner.

“Feedback is the foundation for any good master plan,” Eastman said. “We met with the community prior to embarking on the planning process to get [preliminary] feedback — what [people] like about campus, where they go to eat, where they study. Now that we’ve actually put buildings on a map, we’re looking to see if this represents the feedback they’ve given.”

The draft is organized around six guiding principles to support new strategic plans for VCU and VCU Health, Eastman said. Notable elements include creating a university welcome center, an academic quad and a new student commons and wellness building on the Monroe Park Campus and consolidating adult outpatient clinics at VCU Health.

Read more.

VCU raises $125.8M in record-setting fundraising year

The Make It Real Campaign for VCU logo.

In total, 29,857 donors made gifts to VCU and VCU Health in fiscal year 2018. VCU received 11 gifts of $1 million or more.

Virginia Commonwealth University had its most successful fundraising year to date in fiscal year 2018, raising $125.8 million.

The university’s previous top year was 2012, when a $45 million bequest from the estate of Arthur and Margaret Glasgow lifted the tally to $120.7 million.

The record-setting year comes amid the largest fundraising effort in the university’s history. The Make It Real Campaign for VCU began with a quiet phase in July 2012 and launched publicly in September 2016. It counts all funds raised through June 30, 2020.

Read more.

VCU awarded $1M to engage more students in science regardless of background

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has selected 33 colleges and universities, including Virginia Commonwealth University, for its 2018 Inclusive Excellence initiative, which aims to help schools find ways to engage more students in science ­­­— especially those from underrepresented groups, such as minorities, first-generation students, and working adults with families.

The 33 selected schools join the 24 selected in 2017, making a total of 57 schools that will each receive $1 million in grant support over five years. The schools will work with the institute and its partner, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, to implement culture change.

Read more.

Bucket Brigade: Office of Sustainability interns design, transform buckets at Monroe Park Campus Learning Garden

Volunteers planting crops in buckets at the Monroe Park Campus Learning Garden.

Volunteers plant crops in buckets at the Monroe Park Campus Learning Garden.

Interns in the Office of Sustainability have decorated more than 125 food-grade buckets to create a colorful border — and more growing space — for the Monroe Park Campus Learning Garden. The garden, located behind the Cary Street Parking Deck, grows food for donation to Virginia Commonwealth University’s RamPantry and the nonprofit Center for Healthy Hearts.

“We are increasing our growing space at a low cost, fostering creative expression through art and ensuring the best portable growing environment for our veggies,” said Erin Stanforth, director of sustainability. “By cultivating an imaginative environment in our garden, we hope it will attract more interested community members to be involved.”Designs vary from simple stripes to an elaborate replica of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album cover — complete with beetles replacing John, Paul, George and Ringo on the crosswalk. Other buckets feature a “give peas a chance” design, ice cream cones and windmills.

Read more.