University College Message from the Dean

Photo of Constance Relihan.Welcome to University College!

University College is the home of the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, the Focused Inquiry Department, and the Common Book Program. As such, every faculty and staff member of University College is committed to helping students think independently and critically, to pushing students to develop their analytical skills, to strengthening students’ engagement with the campus and the community, and to providing students with the tools they need to succeed at VCU and as lifelong learners.

Our programs emphasize interdisciplinary and innovative teaching in small class settings that engage students with their professors, their fellow students, their campus, and their community. Most students will encounter University College through Focused Inquiry (FI) classes and the Common Book program. Focused Inquiry courses (UNIV 111, 112, & 200), are required for most VCU students. Taught by faculty whose backgrounds include advanced degrees in a wide range of academic disciplines, FI courses give students the opportunity to learn how to think deeply, critically, and analytically about the kinds of large issues they will encounter throughout their academic careers at VCU.

Through the Common Book program, University College brings the entire VCU campus together to consider important social issues that have a significant impact on our campus. The 2020-2021 year book, One Person, No Vote chronicles the trail of legislation that has resulted in more unregistered minority voters and how it has influenced voter turnout in the United States. Carol Anderson, the author, asserts that under the guise of combating voter fraud, lawmakers are instituting restrictive laws and initiatives that have historically negatively impacted African Americans in the registration process. She explains how voter suppression works, from limiting the number of early voting sites to photo identification requirements to essentially instituting a poll tax on college students. In addition to discussing the issues raised by One Person, No Vote in FI classes, University College will sponsor a visit by Carol Anderson and a number of related events in order to engage the campus community. The Common Book program models the complex nature of twenty-first century problems, demonstrating the reasoned, analytical, and interdisciplinary strategies that are needed to address them.

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) program provides undergraduate students the opportunity to focus their academic studies on interdisciplinary problem-solving. Students who select the BIS program as their major work closely with advisors and faculty to develop an individual plan of study that combines upper-level study in two or three different academic areas.

University College is located on the fifth floor of Grace E. Harris Hall. Please stop by and see us!


Constance C. Relihan


Virginia Commonwealth University

University College

Harris Hall, 5th Floor
1015 Floyd Avenue
Box 842015
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2019

Phone: 804-827-0838

Last Updated: June 24, 2019

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