President Rao, Community Members Participate in Annual Neighborhood Forum

The annual forum provides an opportunity for VCU officials and community members to exchange information and listen to each other.

Tito Luna

By Jenny Pedraza

On June 10, community members from Virginia Commonwealth University’s surrounding neighborhoods gathered in the ASPiRE building on West Grace Street for an update and open dialogue with Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. Now an annual event hosted by the Division of Community Engagement (DCE), the VCU Neighborhood Forum for the Monroe Park Campus provides an opportunity for VCU officials and community members to exchange information and listen to each other.

This year, 26 community members, representing more than seven neighborhood associations and organizations, attended the event.

“It is important to include our neighbors' voices when it comes to the development of new capital projects, VCU Police initiatives, public programs and any other activities that impact or may be of interest to the surrounding community,” said Tito Luna, VCU neighborhood outreach director. “Dr. Rao's annual talk and his commitment to open dialogue speak volumes of the importance of community engagement at VCU.”

As a full-time staff member in the DCE, Luna’s position is based in the community, signifying VCU’s sustained commitment to building relationships and understanding.

President Rao welcomed the group and provided an update that included university highlights from the year, the latest data on VCU’s success in increasing graduation rates, VCU’s STEAM initiatives and recent capital projects, including the new children’s hospital.

John Venuti, associate vice president for public safety, and other representatives from VCU Police shared data and information, including the department’s expanded jurisdiction and partnership with Richmond Police. Meredith Weiss, vice president for administration, and additional university officials attended to provide details from the One VCU Master Plan and answer questions from attendees, in addition to taking notes for action and follow-up.

For more information, contact Luna at taluna@vcu.edu.

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