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VCU's Community Engagement Highlighted at National APLU Conference

APLU ConferenceCathy Howard, VCU vice provost of community engagement, served as a speaker during a closing session at The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) winter meeting, held November 11 to 13 in New Orleans, La. The APLU is the premier gathering of senior administrators from public research and land-grant institutions, working to address the complex challenges facing public universities. This year’s theme was “Resilience,” with sessions focusing on the capacity of universities, their communities and partners to adapt and thrive no matter what stresses or acute shocks they experience.

Howard’s session, “Defining Moments: Public Universities & Race in America,” explored how public universities continue to be at the forefront of both the debate and advancement of race relations in America. Howard was joined by four other speakers: Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University; Havidan Rodriguez, president of the University of Albany; Jeff Vitter, chancellor of the University of Mississippi; and David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. The speakers addressed how university leaders can seize certain events or periods in time as defining opportunities to deal with issues on their campuses and to serve a bigger purpose of advancing race relations.

“Attending this conference and participating in this way was a wonderful chance to showcase the success of VCU’s community engagement and share our best practices with senior leadership from universities across the nation,” Howard said.

The APLU also announced the creation of a new Commission on Economic and Community Engagement (CECE). This group was formed after leadership for the Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO) and the Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) discussed and voted to integrate the two bodies into one unit. Howard had previously served as chair of CEO. The merger will allow the APLU to encourage more campus-based partnerships and increase the visibility of and investment in engagement, with members of both groups now working together on common initiatives.

Watch Howard’s APLU session: