Yellow letters that spell \"V-C-U\" with blue wavy lines over them
A nighttime view of the new VCU letters at the corner of Harrison and Main streets. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

What’s new at VCU for 2022-23?

Easier ways to access mental health resources, a more prominent campus “front door,” an influx of “un” words and more.

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The residence halls are full, student organizations are tabling in the Compass and The Commons and the line at the Cabell Library Starbucks is long — all tell-tale signs that the school year has officially begun at Virginia Commonwealth University. Along with thousands of new students, there are new programs, dining options and leaders on this ever-changing campus. Here are a few you should know about as you settle in for the 2022-23 academic year.

More ways to keep your mental health (and general wellness) top-of-mind

Neon letters that spell out \"Y-o-u a-r-e n-o-t a-l-o-n-e.\"
TimelyCare is a 24/7 virtual care service that is now available for free to all students; it will be available to employees later this fall. (Getty Images)

The pandemic had serious negative effects on college students’ mental health and at the same time shone light on their existing mental health issues. In response, VCU is enhancing mental health and well-being resources for students, faculty and staff.

For students, VCU now provides free access to TimelyCare, a 24/7 virtual care service that addresses common concerns that can be diagnosed and treated remotely. Services include 12 free, scheduled counseling sessions for the 2022-23 academic year; 24/7 on-demand access to a mental health professional via TalkNow; and free appointments with health coaches to help start or maintain optimal sleep, nutrition, exercise, weight and stress management for holistic well-being. The university will be rolling out free access to TimelyCare for all employees later this fall, adding to the existing resources offered through health plans for benefits-eligible employees.

Students and employees can find these new resources and many others through RamStrong, a one-stop location that addresses the eight dimensions of well-being: physical, emotional, social, financial, intellectual, occupational, environmental and spiritual. RamStrong provides information on VCU’s newest mental and emotional health resources, as well as frequently requested resources that are already available, including University Student Health Services, Employee Health, Health Advisory information (such as for COVID-19), RecWell programming and work/life programming through VCU Human Resources.

Six new graduate-level academic programs

A woman standing next to a white board. There are three children sitting in front of her.
Along with a new master's in curriculum and instruction, VCU added five new certificate programs this year. (Julia Rendelman, University Marketing)

If you’re looking to continue your education at the graduate level, there are six degree and certificate programs available for the first time this year:

Feel free to get creative

VCU was the first Virginia school to be designated an Adobe Creative Campus back in 2019, which meant students and faculty gained access to special resources, events and workshops designed to foster digital literacy and benefited from discounted rates for Adobe Creative Cloud applications. This summer, the university’s licensing agreement changed to include full access to Adobe Creative Cloud for all students.

Text that read \"Adobe Creative Campus\"
As of this summer, students have full access to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Whether creating their resumes, designing a logo for a product they want to sell at Shift Retail Lab or simply working on a class project, students can let their creativity flow with the help of products such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Portfolio and more. To be eligible, a student must be enrolled in at least one credit-bearing course. Instructions for how to claim your subscription are available on VCU’s Adobe Creative Cloud website.

New LGBTQIA+ liaison officers aim to further connect VCU Police with the community

Two police officers standing next to each other
Officers Briana Jackson (left) and Hakilah Hudson (right) are VCU Police's new LGBTQIA+ liaison officers. (Corey Byers, University Public Affairs)

As an extension of the VCU Police Department’s culture of inclusive community outreach for officers and staff, Chief John Venuti has designated two LGBTQIA+ liaisons. The assignments reflect the department’s top goal for 2022-23: a commitment and departmental focus on community engagement. While the department mandates Safe Zone training for all staff, Officers Hakilah Hudson and Briana Jackson will actively collaborate with offices and groups for outreach and events on both campuses and will be the points of contact for groups on and off campus. 

Hudson has been a police officer with VCU Police for more than a year. She is a VCU alum with a B.S. in criminal justice and is currently enrolled in the homeland security and emergency preparedness master’s program. Jackson has worked for VCU Police for 10 months after previously serving at another agency for seven years. Both are currently serving VCU’s campuses as patrol officers. They can be reached at and, respectively.

Give me a V, give me a C, give me a U!

No, you’re not seeing double — you’re seeing triple. Over the summer, VCU installed its third set of gold VCU letters on campus. The newest letters can be found at the corner of Harrison and Cary streets near the Trani Center for Life Sciences. The other two sets were added in recent years at the corners of Franklin and Shafer streets and Main and Linden streets.

A large, sculptural sign that spells VCU in front of the Trani Building.
The latest set of VCU letters helps define the western edge of the Monroe Park Campus and provides a "front door" to campus. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

In addition to giving students yet another great background location option for graduation pics, the can’t-miss sculptural letters are part of the “Front Doors” project within VCU’s Master Plan — an effort to create more prominent and welcoming entrances to VCU that aid in wayfinding and defining the campus.

An uncommon brand for an uncommon university

A woman standing with her arms crossed in front of a poster that says \"Uncommon\"
VCU's new brand focuses on what sets the university apart from other colleges and universities.

Speaking of letters, two little unassuming letters will soon become very familiar to anyone visiting, studying, working or teaching at VCU. VCU is rolling out a new brand — informally (or dare we say unformally?) called Uncommon VCU — that’s all about showcasing what makes the university a place unlike any other.

You’ll see words starting with “un” popping up all over the place — on T-shirts, buttons, billboards and digital ads, even projected on buildings around campus. Over the coming year and beyond, words like untraditional, unstoppable, understanding, unexpected, unique, unafraid and more will be used to describe and capture how VCU is different from its peers and the typical large public research university. They will be used to convey the stories of the unconventional people, from our students to our VCU Health doctors, who help set VCU apart and inspire others to join a community where they will have unlimited potential.

New leaders take the reins

Two key leadership positions have new hires this semester, and with several dean searches under way, there will likely be other additions by the end of the school year.

A portrait of Naomie Boyd on the left and Aaron Hart on the right
Naomi E. Boyd, Ph.D. (left) and Aaron J. Hart, Ed.D.

Naomi E. Boyd, Ph.D., took over as dean of the School of Business on July 1. She comes to VCU from West Virginia University, where she was the associate dean for innovation, outreach and engagement and chair of the Economic Department in the John Chambers College of Business. Boyd’s research background has focused on structural shifts and innovation in capital markets, and she spent eight years as a financial analyst and consultant to the Office of the Chief Economist at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington. At WVU, Boyd developed the Center for Financial Literacy and Education, which houses programs in wealth management, banking and insurance; creates research opportunities for faculty; and supports community outreach. She also created the WVU Student-Managed Investment Fund, which operates as an investment management firm and provides students with real experience as analysts and portfolio managers.

Aaron J. Hart, Ed.D., will become VCU’s vice president for student affairs on Oct. 25. He currently serves as the vice president for student affairs at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Hart’s student affairs career spans across several universities, such as the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and includes successful strategic planning, alignment of university priorities with student life, leveraging financial expertise in initiatives that improve the student experience and a focus on the needs of diverse learners. Hart replaces Chuck Klink, who will transition from his current position to focus on the critical area of student mental and physical health and wellness, which is where his university career began. 

A convenient spot to grab groceries or a meal

More dining options are always welcome on any college campus, and this year brings a new one to VCU’s already robust lineup on the Monroe Park Campus: Ram City Market. If you’ve walked past Grace Street Center at 912 W. Grace St. in recent days, you’ve seen that the market, located on the ground floor, is beginning to take shape. It’s set to open this fall after the opening was delayed last academic year.

The inside of a convince store
Digital rendering of the inside of Ram City Market, which is set to open this fall on the ground floor of Grace Street Center.

Open to the public, this mini grocery store will offer fresh produce, to-go coffee, made-to-order sandwiches, to-go meals, a variety of dry grocery items and more. Customers can pay with RamBucks, swipes, Dining Dollars, cash or credit. Fun fact: The store’s name and logo were chosen by VCU students who participated in a survey last year.

Recognizing the importance of identity

VCU wants to create an inclusive environment where everyone, be it a student sitting in class or a patient in the hospital, feels safe to be themselves. As part of that effort, this summer VCU Health introduced pronoun pins to be worn by doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. The pins come in four variations — she/her/hers; he/him/his; they/them/theirs and Ask me about my pronouns. The idea for the pins was sparked when a medical student suggested them to Marcelle Davis, Ph.D., VCU Health’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Wearing the pins can help put a transgender member of the community more at ease, serve as a conversation starter about gender identity or be a gentle reminder of the importance of accepting others for who they are.

Two medical professionals standing next to each other
Over the summer, VCU Health introduced pronoun pins to be worn by doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. (Kristy Fowler, VCU Health)

On the university side, while it’s not new this year, the Call Me By My Name initiative recently revamped its website to make it easier to use and understand. The site allows VCU students and employees to add the name they choose to go by (along with their pronoun and gender identity) to eServices; this prompts many systems at VCU to recognize students and employees by their name of use versus their legal name. The site provides a list of considerations to think through before changing your name of use, gives instructions on how to update it in eServices and explains what happens after you change it. There’s also an interactive table that shows which systems recognize your name of use, pronouns and gender identity and which ones still have to use your legal name.