University College News & Events

May 14, 2024

IDS Graduates 64 Students at Spring '24 Commencement

University College’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program graduated 64 students Friday, May 10 for its spring 2024  graduation ceremony held at the Singleton Center for Performing Arts on Virginia Commonwealth University's Monroe Park campus. 

I D S director zach hilpert addresses the sprinf 2024 class of I D S graduates at the commencement ceremony

April 19, 2024

IDS Adviser Receives PACME Award

Christina Davis (center), an adviser in University College's , was awarded a PACME Award, one of VCU's highest honors for faculty and staff.

Christina Davis, I D S adviser, stands with other P A C M E recipients

April 15, 2024

Class of 2024: Joshua Tan renovated his vision for college by crafting a customized degree path

Joshua Tan comes from a family of builders, but his initial blueprint for college wasn’t a foundation for success.

“It was kind of a harrowing time,” he said of his early experience.

Joshua Tan standing under a tree in a forest.

April 1, 2024

Class of 2024: Steeled by the challenges of family and football, George Richardson changed his game plan

Amid the turmoil of his youth – the death of his parents, separation from his siblings – George Richardson had the steady comfort of sports. But the “identity crisis” he faced as a college athlete led to a reckoning – and led him to Virginia Commonwealth University, where his upcoming degree will help him pay forward the life lessons he has learned.

George Richardson works out in the V C U Cary St. gym

March 4, 2024

New IDS Minor Lets VCU Students Explore Mixed and Immersive Realities

A new minor that lets Virginia Commonwealth University students expand their understanding of mixed and immersive realities and technology’s role in life and work will be available starting in the fall semester.

A student sits at a desk with a virtual reality headset on

January 23, 2024

'Memory Wars,' selected as the 2024-25 VCU Common Book

“Memory Wars,” a six-part podcast series that explores how societies confront their difficult histories and sin, has been selected as the 2024-25 VCU Common Book. It is the first podcast selected in the decade-plus history of the Virginia Commonwealth University program, which introduces first-year students to complex social issues through a common text.

A man wearing a black pea coat and a rimmed hat stadning beside a woman in a light brown back and gray shirt. The Richmond skyline is in the background.

December 11, 2023

IDS Graduates 59 at Fall '23 Ceremony

University College’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program graduated 59 students Friday, December 8 at its Fall 2023 graduation ceremony held at the Singleton Center for Performing Arts on Virginia Commonwealth University's Monroe Park campus. 

Students celebrate graduation as black and gold baloons are released into the air.

November 13, 2023

To Help Put Local History Into Focus, Focused Inquiry Students Head Nearly 5,000 Miles Away

How does a city tell its story to residents and visitors? To explore a question that has challenged Richmond like few other American locales, VCU’s Hilary Levinson and her students took a trip … to Italy.

Focused Inquiry students stadning in front of a historic building in Sorrento, Italy.

October 12, 2023

Common Book Author Encourages VCU Students to Make College a Time of Self-Discovery

College can be a lonely time of change, but instead of feeling overwhelmed, students can make it a launching point for who they will become, author Kristen Radtke told a Virginia Commonwealth University audience on Wednesday.

An author photo os Kristen Radke and the cover art for the 2023 Common Book, Seek You

September 25, 2023

IDS Adviser Finds Fulfillment in Helping Students Problem Solve 

Richard Quarshie is the Senior Advisor for the Interdisciplinary Studies Program in University College. He has been with IDS and the College since 2019 where he has helped advise hundreds of IDS students navigate their college careers and earn their Bachelor's of Interdisciplinary Studies. 

A man wearing a black and blue top.

May 22, 2023

University College Donates Hundreds of Previous Common Books to Richmond Public Schools

University College donated more than 350 copies of previous Common Books to several high schools in the City of Richmond, where the texts will be used in courses aimed at teaching critical thinking and writing. 

University College Interim Associate Dean, Stephanie Rizzi, and textbook Coordinator Vicki Pallo pose with students and faculty at George Wythe High School

May 15, 2023

IDS Graduates Largest Class Ever at Spring 2023 Commencement Ceremony

University College’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program graduated its largest class–92 students– to date Friday, Mat 12 at the Singleton Center for Performing Arts on Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park Campus.

I D S graduates sit on stage at the Signleton Center as the alum speaker addresses them

April 26, 2023

Class of 2023: Frustrated on the traditional college path, Kian Thornton pivoted in a direction all his own

Kian Thornton nearly dropped out of Virginia Commonwealth University, but a conversation with faculty members turned everything around.

A picture of Kian Thornton stadning in Monroe Park wearing a blue suit jacket, a light blue shirt and a dark blue tie

April 20, 2023

Focused Inquiry Instructor Receives Presidential Award for Community Multicultural Enrichment

Nikki Fernandes, an instructor in University College’s Department of Focused Inquiry, has received the Presidential Award for Community Multicultural Enrichment for faculty–one of the highest honors bestowed to faculty by the university. 

PACME award recipeitns 2023 pose for a photo with VCU leadership

April 14, 2023

Class of 2023: IDS Student finds path to medical school and a community she can count on at VCU

When Akhila Kunuthuru first came to Virginia Commonwealth University to tour it as a prospective student, the university and the city of Richmond made a strong impression on her. She found a place that was vibrant and exciting, diverse and community oriented.

A woman with black hair and gold necklace stands in front of Cabell Library on V C U's Monroe Park campus

April 11, 2023

Class of 2023: IDS Student Finds Her footing with an Interdisciplinary Approach and a New Interest in Research

In the end, things have a way of working out – that’s one adage that Emma Geisler, a Virginia Commonwealth University Honors College student who will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from University College, knows from experience.

A woman wearing a white top and brown pants stands in front of Cabell Library on V C U's Monroe Park campus

April 10, 2023

Students Receive Award for Comics Created in FI Courses

Two students in University College’s Department of Focused Inquiry have been announced as winners in the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries Jurgen Comics Contest for work created UNIV 200, the last course in the three-semester Focused Inquiry sequence. 

VCU's compass landmark

March 21, 2023

Focused Inquiry Faculty, Embrace, Incorporate ChatGPT Into Curriculum

With every emergence of a new tool can come some anxiety about what change this tool will bring forth, but that has not happened in University College's Department of Focused Inquiry. Some faculty within the deaprtment have already started adapting and integrating the use of ChatGPT–an artificial intelligence chatbot–as well as other artificial intelligence technologies into their classrooms in an attempt to utilize the tools and encourage its use for writing and editing purposes.

A man wearing a brow suit jacket, blue shirt and gold tie

March 1, 2023

FILL Peer Mentor Reflects on Multiple Semesters of Helping Fellow Students

Q Hildebrand-Travis, a long-time Peer Mentor in the University College Focused Inquiry Leaning Lounge, answers some questions about her time as a Peer Mentor, what the role has given her personally and professionally and what's next for her after graduating this spring!

A woman with curly hair stadning in front of a piece of art

January 31, 2023

'Seek You' Selected as 2023 Common Book

“Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness,” a graphic nonfiction book by award-winning author Kristen Radtke that documents the “silent epidemic of loneliness” in American society, has been chosen as the 2023 Virginia Commonwealth University Common Book.

An author photo os Kristen Radke and the cover art for the 2023 Common Book, Seek You

December 12, 2022

IDS Program Confers 64 Degrees at Fall Commencement Ceremony

The Virginia Commonwealth University Interdisciplinary Studies program, which is under the VCU University College, conferred 64 Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (B.I.S.) degrees at the Fall 2022 IDS commencement ceremony, which took place Saturday, December 10 at the Singleton Center for Performing Arts on VCU’s Monroe Park campus. 

Students sit at a VCU commencement ceremony

November 29, 2022

Two Focused Inquiry Professors Introduce, Find Success with Alternative Grading Model for First, Second-Year Students

It can be startling for a student to come into a class and be told there is no grade, per se. It's an unthinkable concept for a lot of students because it is the polar opposite of their classroom experience up to that point.

Two photos: One woman wearing a black dress and glasses and another poto of a woman stadning in front of a bookcase

November 18, 2022

IDS Veteran Couple Embrace Campus Life After Years in Military 

Virginia Commonwealth University juniors Corinne Rapp and Joe Cambria call it kismet that they were stationed at the same U. S. Army base in Germany when they first met via the dating app Tinder.

An IDS Student veteran couple walks through V C U's Compass

October 12, 2022

‘The Organ Thieves’ Author Chip Jones Delivers 2022-23 Common Book Lecture

In writing “The Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South,” author and journalist Chip Jones had one goal: To tell the story of how Bruce Tucker was “ensnared in a deadly web of medical research at the old Medical College in Virginia, only to be discarded into the dustbin of history.”

Chip Jones standing at a podium with the V C U logo delivering the 2022-2023 Common Book keynote

October 10, 2022

Peer Mentor Finds Fulfillment in Helping Her Fellow Students Connect With Curriculum

Katelyn Harlow’s favorite thing is to watch the metaphorical light come on in a student’s head when she is helping them through something. It’s what makes her job satisfying and what makes her believe that her peer-to-peer support position has a lasting and positive impact. 

A woman wearing a black tank top with a necklace.

August 22, 2022

Department of Focused Inquiry Welcomes New Chair

Katy Hanggi, Ph.D., was selected from a national pool of candidates to lead the Department of Focused Inquiry, which was founded in 2007 to help first-year students develop the skills and knowledge needed for collegiate and lifelong success through learning-centered experiences. Hanggi’s appointment as Focused Inquiry’s new chair became official on July 12. 

A woman wearing a teal blouse with a navy blue blazer, glasses and a gold necklace

May 16, 2022

IDS Program Confers 81 Degrees at Spring Commencement Ceremony

University College’s Interdisciplinary Studies program conferred 81 Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (B.I.S.) degrees at the Spring 2022 IDS commencement ceremony, which took place Friday, May 13 in the Harris Hall Auditorium.

Students sit at a VCU commencement ceremony

April 27, 2022

Interdisciplinary Studies Program Helps Student Create Her Own Path

It has always made the most sense to Haya Hamid to find a way to merge her interests and passions — despite their differences — to achieve her goals and help those around her.

Haya Hamid standing in front of a dogwood tree wearing a yellow and gray patterned dress

March 30, 2022

Two Focused Inquiry Faculty Help Lead Research Group That Examines Memory, Historical Narratives

Two Focused Inquiry faculty members are helping lead an interdisciplinary humanities research group that uses memory studies to examine historical and social events around issues of race, power, physical structures both in Richmond and across the world.

A graphic with two headshots imposed on a gold background

February 28, 2022

Focused Inquiry Professor Creates Writing Collective, Book Club for High School Students in Richmond Area

Lindsay Chudzik wants to be, for all of her students, what she needed when she was younger. Chudzik, an associate professor in University College’s Department of Focused Inquiry, wants to help show her students—like she wishes her past teachers would have—that literature does not have to just be a smattering of dead white men.

A woman wearing dark rimmed glasses, necklace and a dress

January 27, 2022

‘The Organ Thieves’ selected as VCU’s 2022 Common Book

The award-winning book by Pulitzer-nominated journalist Chip Jones examines a long legacy of mistreating African Americans, culminating in efforts to win the heart transplant race in the late 1960s.

Author headshot of Chip Jones on the left; Organ Thieves cover on the right

December 13, 2021

IDS Program Confers 67 Degrees at Fall Commencement Ceremony

University College’s Interdisciplinary Studies program conferred 67 Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (B.I.S.) degrees at the Fall 2021 IDS commencement ceremony, which took place Saturday, December 11 in the Harris Hall Auditorium.

Graduates of the IDS program sit in Harris Hall during the fall 2021 commencement ceremony

December 7, 2021

New FILL Peer Mentors Offer Unique, One-on-One Support to Students

Katelyn Harlow knew that after she completed the core Focused Inquiry courses UNIV 111, UNIV 112 and UNIV 200 that she was starting to find herself and that Focused Inquiry was largely responsible for helping her develop as a writer and communicator.

The VCU FILL Logo in a centered blue circle with yellow text

October 28, 2021

Focused Inquiry Professor Writes Educational Video With TED-Ed on Acclaimed Novel

Tanya Boucicaut, an assistant professor in the University College Department of Focused Inquiry, has collaborated with TED-Ed— a youth and education initiative from the TED media organization—to write the script and corresponding lesson for an educational animated video around the acclaimed 1937 novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”

Screen shot of a video that animates the classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God

October 26, 2021

IDS Helps Student Find a Path To Graduation: 'It's Shown Me a Whole New Way of Thinking'

Imanee Martin was exhausted. Every major she tried did not feel like the right fit. She had changed majors six times—going from pre-med her first year to fashion merchandising to creative advertising with others in between. Nothing seemed to gel and she was close to dropping out. 

A woman sits in a hammock

October 11, 2021

Five Students Named Winners in Common Book's Creative Contest

The Common Book Program has named five students as winners in the Cli-Fi Creativity Contest, which asked students to create a piece of art inspired by this year’s Common Book “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore” by Elizabeth Rush.

Visual art depicting a skeelton with various plant life coming out of it.

October 7, 2021

Common Book Keynote Lecture to be held Virtually

Elizabeth Rush, author of "Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore," will deliver a virtual keynote address on Wednesday, October 13. The address was origianlly scheduled to happen at the Siegel Center, but to better align with COVID-19 protocols it was moved to be offered only in a virtual setting.

AN author stands in a grass field. a cover of her book Rising is superimposed beside her

September 29, 2021

New IDS Faculty Member Q&A: Vineeta Singh, Ph.D.

Vineeta Singh, Ph.D. talks about why she is excited to join the IDS program and the VCU community. 

A woman smiling wearing a green blouse with glasses.

September 17, 2021

Longtime Focused Inquiry Faculty Member, Department Chair Reflects on 14 Years of Service

After more than 14 years with the Department of Focused Inquiry, Melissa Johnson, Ph.D. is leaving University College for an exciting new opportunity.

A woman wearing a purple rain jacket with a lush, natural green background

September 10, 2021

Two UC Faculty Members Chosen as Collaboratory Fellows to work with Historic African-American Cemeteries in Richmond's East End

Two University College faculty members, Ywone Edwards-Ingram, Ph.D. and Micahel Rackett, Ph.D., have been selected as Collaboratory Fellows for the East End Cemetery Collaboratory for 2021-2022 to help produce scholarship that “contributes to community dialogue about our collective past.”

Sun shines on a headstone in a Richmond East End Cemetery

Septmber 1, 2021

Common Book Program to Host Speaker Series on Climate Change

The Common Book Program will host a three-part speaker series on the subject of climate change. Discussions will be led by VCU faculty from a variety of disciplines.

AN author stands in a grass field. a cover of her book Rising is superimposed beside her

August 23, 2021

Welcome Back

Read Dean Relihan's Welcome Back message to students.

Aerial photo of students walking through V C U's campus

August 20, 2021

University College Launches New Minor

University College has launched a new minor to help students develop the eight skills employers look for when hiring.

Student raise their hands as a professor asks question.