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Since its beginning, VCU has been inextricably intertwined with the Richmond community - physically, socially, and economically. That dynamic interdependence, if leveraged correctly, can help us achieve the vision of Quest 2028. VCU’s website notes, “...our past has made us who we are…” And that past has not always helped maintain our critical relationship with the surrounding community. It is telling that this year’s VCU Common Book is Organ Thieves — a book about VCU’s own Henrietta Lacks story. Research at VCU led to Virginia’s first organ transplants, but there are different stories we can tell about VCU’s historic roads to success. And the stories our community has heard have not always built bridges. We want to change that. We also want to open VCU’s doors to the surrounding community. Many academic institutions are seen as “ivory towers,” but that is not the mission of VCU. We want to pull back the curtain on the impactful, innovative research happening here so that the community better understands what we’re working on. Where and how can we engage the Richmond community with VCU’s research and earn their trust? Richmonders love festivals. They are a part of our shared culture — a place where we can celebrate differences, learn from each other, and enjoy being good neighbors. We propose a VCU Research festival to rebuild the critical relationship between VCU and the community. The VCU Research Festival will build goodwill with the community surrounding VCU by showcasing the impactful and innovative research happening at VCU and the VCU Health System (referred to collectively as “OneVCU”). We envision a oneday event where diverse VCU faculty and student researchers from across disciplines will showcase their work in a single space, emphasizing interactive/hands-on displays that engage attendees. Our goal is for the event to feel like a festival, including art performances, TED Talkstyle presentations, food trucks, etc. The event will be open to the public, helping VCU share its mission with the community, demonstrate its commitment to benefiting humanity at large, and lay the additional groundwork for community-engaged research. Key external stakeholders, including elected officials, donors, and business leaders, would be invited to attend, improving VCU’s local reputation and national prominence. Planning of the event will require the collaborative work of several units at VCU, including the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI), University Relations, the Provost’s office, and the Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness, and Success.
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VCU Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute Publications