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.

Critics are calling ‘Gavagai,’ a film made by two VCU professors, ‘extraordinary’ and one of the best films of the year

Andreas Lust looks out of a window, in a scene from Gavagai.

Andreas Lust, one of the stars of “Gavagai,” in a scene from the film.

When Rob Tregenza and Kirk Kjeldsen, filmmakers and Virginia Commonwealth University cinema professors, submitted their feature “Gavagai” to the top international film festivals, they were disappointed to be turned down. Tregenza’s first two films, “Talking to Strangers” and “The Arc,” had premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and his third, “Inside/Out,” had first appeared at the Cannes Film Festival. However, the film industry had changed in the years since the 1997 release of “Inside/Out,” and the largest festivals had become less likely to select independent films and more likely to latch onto more high-profile movies with boldfaced names attached. “Gavagai,” which was shot in Norway, starred three accomplished performers with acclaimed roles to their credit and each of Tregenza’s three previous films had been praised by critics, but the film lacked box-office cachet.

“Gavagai” eventually was selected to premiere at the Maine International Film Festival, but Tregenza and Kjeldsen worried about finding a distributor and getting their film — one they were proud of — in front of audiences. Then Richard Brody, an influential film critic for The New Yorker, learned through Twitter that Tregenza had a new film completed. Brody had written admirably of Tregenza’s previous works, and he asked to see “Gavagai.” Tregenza and Kjeldsen hoped for a short, positive write-up that might give the film a boost.

An editor sent Kjeldsen a link when the review was posted. As soon as he read it, Kjeldsen, who lives in Germany and teaches online much of the year, knew Tregenza needed to hear it. They connected over Skype and Kjeldsen read it aloud to Tregenza. Together, they savored every word.

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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.”

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